Abolish ICE?

What does it mean and what is at stake?

Conference hosted by:
Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School
September 21-23, 2021

What is at stake when people call to transform the immigration enforcement system? In recent years, immigration enforcement has gained increasing attention from the media, policy-makers, scholars, and the general public. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the fundamental machinery within the Department of Homeland Security in charge of enforcing immigration laws in the interior of the country and investigating international criminal operations and organizations. However, ICE has been faced with accusations of human rights abuses in detention centers, inhumane arrest practices, separating undocumented workers from their families with resultant deportation racial profiling, a lack of accountability and oversight, and the waste and mismanagement of its resources. The impact has been the characterization of ICE as the toxic face of the immigration system; and the serious challenges to its actions have produced a wide range of proposals to transform the agency, including its abolition.

Calls to reform, defund, and abolish ICE gained popularity during the Trump-Pence administration. The Biden-Harris administration has sought to redirect the actions and priorities of the agency, but ICE remains embedded in an immigration enforcement system with long-standing problems. The current system may fairly be described as fundamentally broken. 

To better understand the role that ICE continues to play in the immigration enforcement system and to explore avenues for reform, the Zolberg Institute for Migration and Mobility is hosting an online conference for migrants, migrant activists, academics, artists, and policy-makers. Our aim is to generate new ideas for a meaningful transformation of immigration enforcement in the US.

The conference will feature three roundtables and three panels. Roundtables will put in conversation distinguished scholars, immigrant rights activists, public figures, and government officials. The panels will include short interventions followed by a dynamic discussion. 

September 21, 2021
Panel 1

Meaningful Transformation of the Immigration Enforcement System



Mizue Aizeki

Immigrant Defense Project

Beth Hallowell

American Friends Service Comittee

Kari E. Hong

The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project

Alexandra Délano Alonso

The New School

Hiroshi Motomura

UCLA School of Law

Dora Schriro

Career Public Servant

September 22, 2021
Panel 2

Imagining a Post-ICE Immigration Enforcement System



Peter L. Markowitz

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Doris Meissner

Migration Policy Institute

Dora Schriro

Career Public Servant

Alex Aleinikoff

Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility

September 23, 2021
Panel 3

Up-Ending Enforcement to Impact Immigration System Reform




Ohio State University College of Law

Sophia Elena Gurulé

The Bronx Defenders


Vox Media


Career Public Servant


The New School

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