The US Immigration System's Rich, Vibrant History of Racism

Image via Getty; Badge by Jim Cooke.
Image via Getty; Badge by Jim Cooke.

You would think if we kept making organizations the biggest dicks of the week, we’d eventually run out of dicks. Somehow, we think we’ll be fine.


This past week, when Prachi and I were beginning conversations about who to make our dick of the week for our most recent podcast episode, we were both unable to think of anything more horrifying than the news reports of sweeping raids from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. But we were reluctant to feature ICE agents as our dicks of the week—they aren’t necessarily the guys making the policies. But, luckily for us (just kidding) and unluckily for everyone else, the Department of Homeland Security, at the guidance of the Trump Administration, released a set of new rules intended to enormously increase the number of people eligible for deportation. We had ourselves a dick! And also a national crisis.

In this episode of Big Time Dicks, Prachi and I discuss the new rules, which expand the definition of “criminal alien,” and call for the training of thousands of new ICE agents and detention centers, as well as the history of our thoroughly racist immigration system. (In 1965, Democrats successfully reformed our immigration system to get rid of our hemispheric quotas which, for example, only allowed 100 people from India into the country every year, but their intentions weren’t actually that pure.)

We also speak with Thanu Yakupitiyage of the New York Immigration Coalition, about what rights immigrants have if an ICE agent shows up at your door (You have the right to refuse entry; ask for a lawyer; don’t sign anything!). The NYIC also has “Know Your Rights” materials at in English and Spanish and a text service list—for English, text NYIC to 864237; for Spanish, text VOCES to 864237.

Want to tell us about a Big Time Dick in your life? Send us a voice note to Also, please rate and subscribe to the podcast, and recommend it to your friends, to make sure other’s are able to get their weekly dose of dick. If you need an antidote to this extremely dark (but explained in a fun, relatable way) subject matter, check out our sister pop culture podcast DirtCast.

The podcast is produced by Levi Sharpe with editorial oversight from Deputy Editor Kate Dries. Our Executive Director of Audio is Mandana Mofidi.

Senior Editor, Jezebel



This is slightly unrelated but I have a crazy story about my partner attempting to make his Mexican-born son a US citizen.

My partner is American, born here, with an American passport. Years ago, he spent a brief time in Mexico and casually dated a woman. A week after leaving, she emailed him to say that she was pregnant with his child. He has paid child support and made visits there to see his son since then.

Now, years later, he’s trying to get his child US citizen status so that his son can come live with us.

He has to do this through the US State Department and our embassy in Mexico. Just a few of the things they are asking for:

- Proof that my partner resided in the United States for (I think) 7 years prior to the date of his son’s birth, and he has to deduct from that 7 year period ANY amount of time spent out of the country. He is pulling together tax forms, college transcripts, etc. but there is no clear guidance on what exactly he needs to provide so he’s just hoping it works out. Mind you, HE’S A FUCKING CITIZEN WITH A PASSPORT WHO WAS BORN HERE.

- Proof that my partner and the child’s mother were dating. They are going to bring pictures of them together to the embassy, which thank god she happens to have.

- Proof that the child’s mother was pregnant, and for whatever fucking reason the kid’s BIRTH CERTIFICATE does not count. The embassy recommended that she bring a photo of herself pregnant. What exactly that is supposed to prove, I don’t know.

There’s a whole bunch of other crazy shit too, but IN SUMMARY, I am convinced that this is all a deterrent. You want proof that the kid is my partner’s son? Look at them side by side. They are identical. But they want to make this process hard.