Not just for conspiracy theorists, anymore: Jay Johnson-Castro and Operation ENDGAME.
I think moonhowler Alex Jones owes 'em some moolah for the name...
It sounds like Lou Dobbs' wet dream -- assuming the dyspeptic geezer's still capable of one: Operation Endgame, a comprehensive plan by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of Detention and Removal to "remove all removable aliens" by the magical year of 2012. Released in June 2003, this ambitious and oft-times chilling document has surfaced on several lefty Web sites, and is sometimes offered as proof that a sinister conspiracy to enslave the nation is afoot, using corporate-run concentration camps that might one day be used to hold political activists instead of undocumented foreigners.
Despite the occasional references to the humane treatment of detainees, and a meek, brief discussion of alternatives to incarceration, the plan seems perfectly suited to the paranoid mental playgrounds of left-wing tinfoil-hat types. But the document itself is all too real. And even if the conspiracy theories it has spawned are straight from planet woo, this post-9/11 detention and removal strategy still has a creepy, Orwellian feel to it.
"As the title implies, DRO [Office of Detention and Removal] provides the endgame to immigration enforcement," wrote then DRO Director Anthony Tangeman in his cheery introduction to Endgame. "And that is the removal of all removable aliens. This is also the essence of our mission statement and the `golden measure' of our success. We must endeavor to maintain the integrity of the immigration process and protect our homeland by ensuring that every alien who is ordered removed, and can be, departs the Unites States as quickly as possible and as effectively as practicable. We must strive for 100 percent removal rate."
I'll be honest, when I first was alerted to this document by Phoenix activist Rick Romero and self-described border ambassador Jay Johnson-Castro, I felt that familiar Spidey tingle I get when confronted with 9/11 conspiracy kooks. No offense meant to Romero or Johnson-Castro. They're the ones who organized the recent Citizens Walk for Human Dignity, wherein Johnson-Castro and others made a 10-day trek via foot from Tucson to Phoenix to highlight the abuses of our immigration system, and the ongoing persecution of the undocumented. The walk concluded at the Arizona capitol May 11, though I spoke to both men in Guadalupe the day before, where the walk had diverted itself to demonstrate solidarity with the resistance that occurred during Sheriff Joe Arpaio's anti-immigrant sweep at the beginning of April.
Jay Johnson-Castro: This man only looks crazy...
"Endgame is the blueprint for what’s happening," the tall, tanned Texas-based Johnson-Castro told me. "Arpaio actually fits in perfectly to what they want to do nationally. They want our whole nation to morph into Maricopa County – stopping everybody for every little pretext violating everything that we’ve ever been taught as Americans."
In many ways, I agree with that. Arpaio has 160 ICE-trained officers, the largest local force of 287g gendarmes in the country. And I have no doubt that Homeland Security views Arpaio's 287g-men as a test case for the nation. That's why ICE continues to say that Arpaio's use of his federal powers is consistent with the Memorandum of Agreement he has with ICE. This, in spite of all the controversy Arpaio's provoked.
Yet, after reading Endgame, I still had my doubts that it was legitimate. Might some activist have concocted this wack-ass white paper to convince others that a government conspiracy was afoot? 'Fraid not, Jethro. Looking at the Department of Homeland Security's site, and doing a simple search for the word "Endgame," I found a handful of documents that made reference to Endgame, the most recent of which was dated March 2007.
If you hit Ctrl-F after opening the doc, titled An Assessment of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Fugitive Operations Teams, you'll read what seems to be an admission that Endgame was too hopeful in its goals by far:
"In its Strategic Plan, Endgame, dated June 2003, the Office of Detention and Removal Operations indicated that the National Fugitive Operations Program’s goal was to eliminate the backlog of fugitive aliens by the end of 2012 and acknowledged that the initial allocation of 40 positions to fugitive operations would not be enough to reach that goal."
I called Vinnie Picard, ICE's PIO in Phoenix, and he conceded that Endgame was an ICE plan at one time, but he asserted that it was no longer. At least not as written in 2003.
"It was a plan formulated under prior ICE leadership," he explained. "It has since been replaced by a more comprehensive strategy under DHS that includes the border and interior immigration enforcement. Basically, there are some components from operation Endgame that have been folded into our current operational structure. Fugitive operations, for instance, is one element. This is something that existed right at the beginning at 2003, and it has been replaced by a more comprehensive strategy."
More comprehensive than having all the auslanders booted out by 2012? Well, for one thing, according to Picard, they've dropped the deadline.
"I would characterize it by saying that we’re focusing our priorities not so much on dates but on other kinds of goals, said Picard. "Like reducing the percentage of foreign-born criminals in the state jails here in Arizona. I’m not aware of any current ICE operational data that provides a target date for removing all illegal aliens. Certainly some components of operation Endgame have carried on and were folded into parts of our strategy. But certainly that’s not one of them."
Yep, someone along the line probably stopped sniffing the gas pipe and realized that there's no way ICE is going to deport 12- to 20-million people back to their country of origin. ICE doesn't have the manpower. Which may explain ICE pimping the 287g agreements. If all local law enforcement entities had 287g officers, and were further empowered to arrest and detain every illegal potato-peeler in the U.S., then the ethnic cleansing could begin in earnest.
No wonder CCA, the Corrections Corporation of America, is building prison facilities to house undocumented men, women, and children like there's no tomorrow. CCA is the publicly traded company that runs prisons like those at Eloy and Florence, as well as Texas' T. Don Hutto facility, where illegal immigrant kids are detained. The Endgame for CCA is the almighty dollar. Or to be more specific, dividends and stock splits. Making bank off the incarceration of others. It doesn't get more American than that. Or more Arizonan; e.g., former Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini now sits on CCA's board of directors.
Last year, the ACLU of Massachusetts insisted that the Endgame file was once available on ICE's site, but that ICE deleted the doc shortly after an op-ed by two of ACLUM's directors. Probably a smart PR move on ICE's part. The plan's language at times is a little too wonkishly enthusiastic, and veers into the sort of bureaucratese that recalls one of history's more notorious mass deportations. Needless to say, the comparison's not a kind one
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.