Abolish ICE? It’s Protecting Women and Girls from FGM in America’s Largest Airports

***News Release***

Abolish ICE? It’s Protecting Women and Girls from FGM in America’s Largest Airports

#EndFGMToday Applauds ICE’s Efforts to Protect 200 Million Girls and Women Worldwide Who Are Subjected to This Brutal—and Illegal—Practice

WASHINGTON, D.C.Many are calling for the abolishment of ICE—U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—in the midst of the ongoing immigration debate, but the agency is working diligently to combat the global and domestic scourge of female genital mutilation (FGM) by offering awareness programs at the nation’s largest and busiest airports.

The national #EndFGMToday initiative and its leader, international child advocate and attorney Elizabeth Yore, is applauding ICE’s commitment to awareness and training events at seven of the nation’s largest and busiest airports, including Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Washington’s Dulles International Airport, Newark International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. The initiative kicked off at New York’s JFK airport in 2017.

“The grizzled, worn-out Saul Alinsky tactics are alive and well with the Left flooding the streets and airwaves with demonizing chants of ‘Abolish ICE,’” Yore wrote in a recent editorial for Townhall.com. “The political strategy originates from Alinsky Rule 13: ‘Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy.’ Pick the boogey-man (ICE) and pummel it into submission and oblivion. This tactic is so obviously strategic and employed to whip up the crowd into a frenzy, eliminating any thoughtful debate, discussion of the issues or rational solutions.

“Time to push back,” Yore continued. “Let’s pick the target, ICE, and highlight its importance and innovation to protect the human rights of little girls. The fastest-growing import into the United States is not a product or technology, rather it is a barbaric practice called female genital mutilation, which the CDC estimates over 500,000 women and girls in the U.S. are at risk for. The massive influx of refugees from FGM practicing countries is causing a massive uptick in this brutal procedure inflicted on little girls from ages 3 to 12. With little fanfare, but with a phalanx of cooperating federal agencies, the often-scorned ICE and HSI are proactively addressing this federal crime by populating a pilot project called Operation Limelight in major international airport hubs to educate and alert the public that FGM is a crime, whether performed in the U.S. or traveling out of the country for the procedure commonly called ‘FGM vacation cutting.’”

The ICE FGM events have the goal to bring awareness to the illegal practice of female genital mutilation and to educate people about the serious penalties that exist under U.S. law for engaging in this horrific practice.

The outreach efforts at the airports were an extension of Operation Limelight USA, a pilot program designed by Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center to bring awareness to FGM and deter its practice. The program is a U.S.-based version of the United Kingdom’s Operation Limelight at Heathrow Airport. HSI aims to continue expanding outreach at additional international departure points to areas where FGM is commonly practiced to ensure travelers are aware that it is a crime under U.S. law.

As part of Operation Limelight USA, special agents who complete FGM-related training speak to passengers flying to or from high-risk countries, offer informational brochures and identify potential victims and violators of FGM. These discussions both educate passengers on the consequences of involvement in FGM and provide passengers with a means to refer cases or receive victim assistance.

ICE reports that FGM provides no health benefits and, in fact, can cause severe health effects—significant bleeding and acute pain, as well as life-long consequences of chronic infection, childbirth complications, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and even death. The airport events were held at the beginning of summer vacation when girls may be sent from the United States to other countries to undergo FGM, or “vacation cutting,” as Yore also noted.

ICE asks that anyone with information about victims or perpetrators of female genital mutilation call the toll-free ICE tip line at (866) 347-2423 or complete the ICE online tip form.

According to a 2016 estimation by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), around 200 million women living today have undergone this procedure. Yore added that FGM is recognized by both the World Health Organization and the U.N. as a human rights violation, and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 513,000 girls and women are at risk of FGM in the United States.

Learn more about FGM at www.EndFGMToday.com or on social media at #EndFGMToday.