Crimes against humanity at the border: Hold people responsible
In this July 8, 2019, file photo, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer looks on during an operation in Escondido, Calif. | Gregory Bull / AP

The horrors being carried out against children by ICE agents and officers at detention centers must be stopped by every legal, nonviolent, and public action necessary.

It is time that these employees of the federal government consider refusing to follow questionable orders given by their superiors, without fear of losing their jobs. Their superiors are ordering activity and policy obligating employees to overstep the bounds of human decency, morality by anyone’s moral code, and accepted civil and legal behavior.

Employees of our federal government should not be required to follow such illegal mandates.  Those ICE officers and agents who commit such crimes should be called out in public and they should be asked why they continue to carry out and participate in the horrendous, reprehensible detention and maltreatment of children who are illegally and forcibly separated from their parents and adult guardians. Responsibility for crimes against humanity must be accepted, and the following of orders of superior officers cannot be used as an excuse to behave illegally, indecently, or immorally toward children who bear no responsibility for conditions which have put them in harm’s way.

As a member of a civilian committee of trade unionists in Los Angeles, I call on all morally and ethically raised and educated ICE employees having anything to do with this offensive assault on our nation’s legal fiber to question their own conscience. They must not only cease acting so damagingly toward the children under their command, but they must also help bring to light the wrongdoing of their superiors in issuing orders that are so degrading to human beings in general and to children specifically.

The Nuremberg Trials taught us that “just following orders” could not be a legitimate defense for crimes against humanity. It is high time to learn this lesson.


Ismael Parra
Ismael Parra

Ismael Parra is the Southern California Chair of the National Writers Union, a musician, and writer. Ismael Parra es el presidente de la Unión Nacional de Escritores del Sur de California, músico y escritor.