Your Immigration Service

|

Here's an update on the good people keeping your border secure:

A top immigration official has apologized after awarding "most original costume" to a Homeland Security Department employee who dressed in prison stripes, dreadlocks and dark makeup for a Halloween gathering at the agency.

Julie Myers, assistant secretary overseeing Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, was part of a three-judge panel that lauded the costume, worn by a white employee, last Wednesday. She also posed for a photo with him.

Yes, an employee who dressed as a jailed black man was deemed to have the "most original costume" by an agency that is detaining record numbers of immigrants. Maybe next time someone will dress up as something really unique, like a sick baby left motherless after an immigration raid.

Myers has yet to be confirmed as ICE chief. (Queen?) Sen. Claire McCaskill has moved to block the confirmation until she finds out why the picture was discarded instead of plastered all over the Internet where it belongs.

NEXT: Note To Artists on College Campuses: Don't Be Controversial or Insensitive, Especially Unintentionally

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I can’t believe my Asian laundry owner costume lost out to that guy!

  2. Oh please. When Reason goes PC over a frikkin’ costume party is when they have finally joined the left. Say it ain’t so.

  3. It was the shiv hidden in his shoe that put him over the top.

  4. ed,

    I went dressed up as your mom, but I lost cause my pasties kept falling off.

  5. ed:
    There’s PC garbage to ignore, and then there are disgusting, vile acts of unadulterated bigotry to get pissed about.
    This falls in the latter camp, methinks.

  6. ed,

    When Reason goes PC over a blackfaced mintrel chaingang costume is when they have finally joined the left.

    There. Fixed.

  7. Maybe he was making a political statement about the war on drugs???

    ??

  8. Yeah, I’m also unsure of how I’m suppose to react here. Am I suppose to be outraged over the resurrected specter of minstrelity? Or is it about “going there” after dressing up as a prisoner to be a black prisoner? Or is it about “awarding” the guy for being most original. Maybe that’s it, it’s offensive to suggest there’s anything original about a black man in prison.

    The whole thing strikes me as borderline tasteless and entirely unnoteworthy.

  9. She obviously lacks the intelligence required for the position. Can her, now!

  10. Insightful commentary from the bedwetting wing of the libertarian party.

  11. What if the winning costume was Bushitler the Chimp, would there be any controvery?

  12. ed,

    It’s all about context. If an executive at Exxon or Citigroup was berated for this, I’d call shenanigans.

    But this is the agency that targets people depicted by the costume (unfairly, many will argue) for arrest and detainment.

    It’s not really a big deal, but this show what kind of mindset one has to work in the ICE.

    Dare I say the people at ICE are pretty cold?

    *ducks*

  13. How can someone get most creative costume for dressing up as a prisoner? Either that was a really lame costume party or the dude got the votes because the blackface tickled the funnybones of the “It’s funny because it’s true!” peckerwood vote.

  14. Ok, Kerry, we get it — you don’t like immigration control. What pisses me off isn’t the PC nature of some of these blog posts, but the complete logical non sequitirs. This kind of emotional appeal I would expect from other media sources, but it used to disappoint me here. Now I guess it’s just kind of the norm for some of reason’s writers.

  15. OKAY FRED, WE GET IT. YOUR TOUPEE BLEW AWAY THIS MORNING.

  16. Shiv?

    He’s got a razor in his shoe.

    Straight razor.

  17. “…the complete logical non sequitirs….Now I guess it’s just kind of the norm for some of reason’s writers.”

    Indeed – for a magazine called Reason….

    Wheeeeee!!!!

  18. yeah the comment about the sick baby left motherless stinks of leftist demagoguery, but its still worth making.

    In any case She apologized. I thought in our culture you can do whatever the hell you want so long as you apologize? I’d feel better if she agreed to attend sensativity training but I’ll take the sign of compassion for the plight of the minority class in america. Whats the story here???

  19. Blackface == bad.

    Killface, on the other hand…

    Seriously though, guy shouldn’t be fired for what is clearly protected speech. He probably should be fired from ICE, but I’m not sure this costume is the reason.

    Who should be fired is whatever braindead asshat thought that was ‘most original costume’. On grounds of demonstrably impaired sense of basic understanding.

  20. Of all agencies connected in any way to law enforcement I probably dislike the Border Patrol, and by extension, Homeland Security the most. The term Despicable comes immediately to mind. My feelings are intense and I can only sit through a BP checkpoint and keep my mouth shut because I know those guys have guns and they’re assholes. Plus Mrs TWC will put my on the couch for a week.

    But I’m having a little trouble getting worked up over a stupid Halloween costume.

    Maybe if the costume was a serape,sombrero, pint of Mescal in a pants pocket, a Pancho Villa mustache, with a piece of barbed wire stuck in his hair AND, he drove a 63 Chevy Impala short to work………

  21. How can someone get most creative costume for dressing up as a prisoner? Either that was a really lame costume party or the dude got the votes because the blackface tickled the funnybones of the “It’s funny because it’s true!” peckerwood vote.

    Important point. We can have no opinion without data on the other costumes. Perhaps everybody else were in Mardi Gras masks. Perhaps they cut holes in bed sheets and came as ghosts.

  22. I thought in our culture you can do whatever the hell you want so long as you apologize?

    No, you also have to admit you have a drinking problem. Then it’s okay.

  23. I’d say this is a step up from a party that took place 12 years ago for another wonderful government agency, though…

  24. Outrageous….that Homeland Security is wasting time and money having a Halloween party instead of attending to their business.
    Or was this an after-hours unofficial function?

  25. He was not wearing blackface but makeup that was a darker color than his skin, Nantel said.

    Sounds like we have a Sideshow Bob costume here.

    For a magazine called Reason, etc.

  26. What if the winning costume was Bushitler the Chimp, would there be any controvery?

    That said, I doubt if this would be very controversial either. That said, it’s a hell of a lot more creative.

    Also was wondering why nobody at the party was offended enough to belt the costume wearer.

  27. I didn’t really mean to say THAT SAID two times in two sentences. Dam It.

  28. @Taktix?

    But this is the agency that targets people depicted by the costume (unfairly, many will argue) for arrest and detainment.

    Uh, how many blacks do you know of that have been detained for being in the country illegally?

    @Kerry Howley

    Yes, an employee who dressed as a jailed black man was deemed to have the “most original costume” by an agency that is detaining record numbers of immigrants.

    Ok, what does one have to do with the other? What would your position be if this occurred at a party at a libertarian think-tank?

  29. I don’t have the source, but someone from the department, in “defense” of the costume made the point of saying along the lines of :it wasn’t black face — it was just some makeup to make the costumer wearers skin tone look more tan/darker.

    So maybe it was original if the costume was reallt supposed to be an Illegal Rasta-Mexican, or an Illegal Mexican pretending to be a Rasta to not get deported?

  30. Sounds like we have a Sideshow Bob costume here.

    That would also require massive shoes.

  31. ed,

    How’d you know about that?! I thought that I’d already burned those sheets!

  32. I should have read the linked article, because it was in there :

    The employee who wore the costume was not identified, but ICE spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said he was counseled by his supervisor. He was not wearing blackface but makeup that was a darker color than his skin, Nantel said.

  33. Uh, how many blacks do you know of that have been detained for being in the country illegally?

    Are we to believe that this person only potentially holds racist beliefs towards black people, but Mexicans and Muslims and other foreigners are A-OK ?

  34. Are we to believe that this person only potentially holds racist beliefs towards black people, but Mexicans and Muslims and other foreigners are A-OK ?

    Actually, I’ve known plenty of people who felt exactly that way, but that wasn’t the point. Truthfully, I’m not sure what the point of this post was in the first place. That there are people who hold racist opinions or enjoy tasteless jokes? That some of them (*gasp*) are on ICE’s payroll? And that distinguishes ICE’s payroll from anyone else’s payroll – how?

  35. Uh, how many blacks do you know of that have been detained for being in the country illegally?
    I dunno, but I suppose there a few Haitians I could ask. Perhaps some Dominicans and Cubans (many are black, you know), Jamaicans. OH, and there are those from African nations.

  36. Uh, how many blacks do you know of that have been detained for being in the country illegally?

    Plenty. Let me spell it out for you. There’s this country called Haiti, see. And it’s run by a tyrannical regime, ok.

    So, these people, or Haitians, leave and come here to seek freedom from oppression. It’s actually a pretty common reason to come to the U.S.

  37. So maybe it was original if the costume was reallt supposed to be an Illegal Rasta-Mexican, or an Illegal Mexican pretending to be a Rasta to not get deported?

    Awesome. I think you win the thread.

    On a serious note. For all you lighter-skinned people; if were attending a party, and you knew there’d be real, live black people there, would you wear blackface?

  38. I’m with Ed on this one. Whether one approves or abhors current immigration law and enforcement is a separate issue from an ICE employee dressing up as a convict at a Halloween party.

  39. On a serious note. For all you lighter-skinned people; if were attending a party, and you knew there’d be real, live black people there, would you wear blackface?

    Ted Danson would.

  40. “Perhaps they cut holes in bed sheets and came as ghosts.”

    Nope. Can’t wear white sheets with holes. People assume you’re in the Klan. Grounds for dismissal, apologies required, wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth, cats sleeping with dogs, the end of days, oh my.

    CB

  41. OK, Miss Howley has firmly established herself as Reason’s leftiest writer. But who is the rightiest? My vote goes to Bailey, with Sullum a close second. All the others seem to have defected.

  42. Reminds me of the time my little brother (at the time about 5 years old) won a “most original costume” contest at a kids’ party on an Army base in Germany. He came as a chimney sweep, with rented black outfit, top hat, and ladder.

    The ironic part was his having to split the prize with the other kid who came as a chimney sweep in an identical rented costume.

    OK, Miss Howley has firmly established herself as Reason’s leftiest writer. But who is the rightiest? My vote goes to Bailey, with Sullum a close second. All the others seem to have defected.

    Maybe they’re libertarian, which isn’t on the current U.S. left-right political scale.

  43. Why was the costume offensive Kerry? I didn’t see the costume but when I see a guy in prison strips I don’t really notice if he is black. Why do you? Why are such a racist? Or is that you are a guilty elite white girl which is really the same thing?

    Julie Myers is not the world’s greatest public servent but this seems to be a pretty cheap shot. What is the significance of this? It is the kind of snarky cheap shots that Reason loves to take at the Right. I wouldn’t mind them so much (hey who doens’t love a little snark?) except that they never take these kinds of shots at the left. Never.

  44. I didn’t see the costume but when I see a guy in prison strips I don’t really notice if he is black. Why do you? Why are such a racist? Or is that you are a guilty elite white girl which is really the same thing?

    You noticed the part where the guy wore blackface right (or if you believe the spokesman, skin darkener) ? It does make it hard to NOT notice (unless you are being purposely obtuse) the race of the “character” or think that the race of the character is of some importance to the costume.

    I would imagine that if the employee merely wore a prison jumpsuit no one would have flinched. The fact that he decided to be a black prisoner seems to add something to the costume, no?

  45. It is the kind of snarky cheap shots that Reason loves to take at the Right. I wouldn’t mind them so much (hey who doens’t love a little snark?) except that they never take these kinds of shots at the left. Never.

    John,

    You may want to scroll down to the post directly under this one.

  46. “The fact that he decided to be a black prisoner seems to add something to the costume, no?”

    Only if you think that a prisoner ought to be black.

  47. De stijl,

    They will snark at colleges true enough. But that is about it.

  48. Let me get this straight. In a free country a person can’t dress up in a fashion that parodies black folk? And if not, then how come suburban white teens get to do it 24/7?

  49. The costume was offensive because the white guy wearing it thought an integral part of his portrayal of a criminal would require him to inculde makeup to make his skin appear darker than normal. I guess the guy with the hook nosed Jew cosutme must have called in sick, he would have been a shoo-in.

  50. “Or is it about “going there” after dressing up as a prisoner to be a black prisoner? ”

    Apparently politically correct and statistically correct aren’t on in the same…

  51. Maybe he was Manny Ramirez without a BlowSox uniform or his passport, and he had to sneak back into the US after an exhibition game in Mexico.

    As stated already, the blackface convict is not original. That’s about the only thing I find offensive about it.

  52. I’d be willing to bet that if the same guy had dressed as a southern redneck, complete with overalls, filthy baseball cap, a lip full of chew and a jug of ‘shine, no one would have blinked. So it really is all about political correctness, and how some blacks still consider themselves a persecuted tribe. Shame on them, and shame on their white apologists. They are the truly offensive actors in this little charade.

  53. But who is the rightiest?

    I don’t know, but clearly you’re bucking for most asshole-ish.

  54. On a serious note. For all you lighter-skinned people; if were attending a party, and you knew there’d be real, live black people there, would you wear blackface?

    I’ve worn “blackface” once, by accident:

    A friend was having an African-themed costume party (She had just returned from Zambia), and I decided to go as a diamond miner, for which I needed some form of particulate dust on my face, used artist’s charcoal. It turned out to look more like blackface than I meant to. However, the pickaxe, coveralls, and fake diamonds explained that away.

    Went fine, no real problems.

    That being said, in relation to the actual story: Whether or not this guy is safe under protected speech or not, he was acting in a completely tactless manner – so an apology & sensitivity training (or the counseling given) is the correct thing to do. He should be censured, not censored.

  55. Geezus folks. It’s not the costume that’s the point of this post. It’s the fact that government agency leaders are rewarding it.

  56. yeah, what ed said.

    While there are 1000 things to hate about the ICE, and the Kafkaesque system we’ve got for immigration enforcement (or lack thereof)… it might make sense to avoid the trivial/PC-style complaints, because to some degree it ends up undermining the larger points, which is that the group is a big shitpile, whether they dress up in “racist” costumes or not. I know it’s hard to resist kicking them in the nuts at every possible opportunity, but better to hit them where it counts than jump on every single potential opportunity to show what fuckheads they are in general.

  57. ed,

    Shame on them, and shame on their white apologists. They are the truly offensive actors in this little charade.

    Just like an oppressed white guy to play the victim card. How typical!

  58. Shame on them, and shame on their white apologists

    If you’ve followed my work, and I don’t blame you if you haven’t as my work is pretty obscure, you’d know that I am not obsessed with political correctness. However, given the history of minstrel shows and so forth, the use of blackface gives many people pause.
    Sometimes people seem to try to be so obtusely anti-PC, they seem as clueless as the excessively PC (see frat boy scene in “Borat”).

  59. I’d be willing to bet that if the same guy had dressed as a southern redneck, complete with overalls, filthy baseball cap, a lip full of chew and a jug of ‘shine, no one would have blinked.

    If the guy’s job was to round up rednecks in overalls and ship them back to Kentucky, your analogy might have merit…

  60. On a serious note. For all you lighter-skinned people; if were attending a party, and you knew there’d be real, live black people there, would you wear blackface?

    What? There’s no black folks working for Homeland Security? Which reminds me of my original question about offense. If the costume was THAT offensive, why didn’t someone slap the wearer upside the head?

  61. OK, Miss Howley has firmly established herself as Reason’s leftiest writer.

    Ahem. I don’t think so.

  62. Who is more to the left here than Kerry?
    OK, maybe Wiegel. I’m not saying he’s Stalin, though he does have nice hair.

  63. given the history of minstrel shows and so forth, the use of blackface gives many people pause

    Hard to be certain, as no video or pictures are available, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t wearing traditional blackface doing a song and dance minstrel show. The rush to judgement by some has added this fiction to the storyline.

  64. Y’know, Ed, I’m kind of curious about that. If this is such a non-event, why did they immediately delete the image? Why aren’t they waving it around, saying “See how inoffensive this guy’s costume is?” Who knows, maybe they deleted it for “national security” reasons.

  65. I think the true explanation that ed et al. are looking for is that the employee came dressed as a white, but sunburned, trustafarian college kid who got busted on his way back from spring break.

    See! No racism here. Move along. Nothing to see here, folks.

  66. Absent photos, if a white ICE employee turned up at a party dressed as a prisoner wearing makeup “darker than his skin” I’d presume he was going for hispanic, not black.

  67. LarryA,

    That doesn’t explain the dreads. I’m going with the trustafarian college kid myself. It all hinges on whether there was a hacky sack involved somehow.

  68. “OK, maybe Wiegel. I’m not saying he’s Stalin, though he does have nice hair.”

    He still writes here?

  69. I would like to know why the employee is on leave but the three judges who deemed this appropriate and original are still collecting their big fat paychecks? Why the the hearings only put on hold and not canceled. She should be fired. If if happened anyplace other than the government, she would have been long gone for allowing something like that, let alone praising it.

  70. It was just a costume. Get over it.

  71. why did they immediately delete the image?

    I can only guess: In this era of hypersensitivity, just the whiff of a scandal triggers CYAS (Cover Your Ass Syndrome).

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.