Cartoon: New Recruits’ Vow

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I’m not sure that I’ve ever done a cartoon about ICE before, and I’ve really wanted to, but it’s been hard for me to think one up.

ICE is genuinely one of the most evil branches of the U.S. government; they’re needlessly martial, needlessly cruel, and far overfunded. If you pay attention to ICE in your newsreading, you’ll hear of outrages virtually every week. It’s one of those topics that gets me so enraged that I just see red and then it’s really hard to make up a cartoon, and so I end up doing a cartoon about something else.

(But what would we do without ICE, you might ask? Remember that ICE is a relatively new agency, created in the panic following 9/11. Before that we had the INS, and as bad as the INS was, its culture didn’t seem as combative or as dismissive of the humanity of the immigrants it dealt with.)

(“Not as bad as ICE” is, admittedly, not a high bar.)

I think the art for this one is decent. I’m definitely leaning hard into the “bighead figures” drawing this year. It’s not necessarily the most fun style for me to draw, but something about the contrast between the horrible things my cartoons are about, and the extreme cuteness of the drawing style, adds an extra punch to the cartoons. Or that’s the theory I’m working from for now. :-)

Transcript of Cartoon

This is a four-panel cartoon.

PANEL ONE shows two women, one wearing a long open-front sweater and a polka dot skirt, the other wearing pants and a long-sleeved v neck shirt. The woman with the polka dot skirt is reading aloud from something on her smartphone. The woman in the v-neck shirt is listening, hand on her chin.

DOTS: Listen to the vow this group makes new recruits take! “I swear I will have no mercy for brown people…”

A close-up of Dots as she continues reading from her phone. She looks a bit angry.

DOTS: “I will throw them into prison without due process. I will pull their crying children from their arms.”

A shot of the two of them. Dots continues to read from her phone. V-Neck interrupts, looking horrified, her eyes wide and her hands on her cheeks.

DOTS: “I will spread fear and desperation. I will…”
V-NECK: What nightmare group is this? The Klan? The Nazis?

A middle-aged man with a mustache and wearing a suit, stands behind a podium, talking to a crowd of people. The front of the podium has the Department of Homeland Security seal, and the word “ICE.”

MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to ICE!

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Immigration, Migrant Rights, etc, Institutionalized Racism. Bookmark the permalink. 

7 Responses to Cartoon: New Recruits’ Vow

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    I’m curious as to what document or statement the vow that the young woman is quoting comes from.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    It’s a completely made-up vow. With all due respect, I think it’s over-the-top enough to be obviously fake.

  3. 3
    Tpar says:

    “It’s a completely made-up vow.”

    I’ve seen this enough in your cartoons to be able to say that it’s a habit on your part.

    I don’t think you’d like it if someone on the “other political side” did this kind of thing. Essentially asserting a made-up argument to the other side – that they may not even be thinking – and then self-righteously hammering it down to the cheers of the like-minded on your side.

    Why do you even do that? What’s the point? You are not refuting arguments of the “other side”, you are just doing … something … that allows your followers to feel victory in some weird way.

  4. 4
    LimitsOfLanguage says:


    1. Do you believe that ICE doesn’t deport any whites?
    2. Do you believe that ICE distinguishes between white and non-white Hispanics?

  5. 5
    Celeste says:

    There is a type of criticism of Ampersand’s cartoons that can be boiled down to “I am pretending that I have never encountered a political cartoon before, and I’m going to criticize it as though it were factual reporting.”

    The interesting thing about this type of criticism is that I don’t think anyone involved – not the author, not the readers, not Ampersand – believes for a moment that it’s sincere. I certainly don’t.

    I mean: “In Benjamin Franklin’s Join or Die, he portrays the 13 colonies as though they were a snake that had been sliced into pieces and must be rejoined. This despite the fact that the colonies are not a snake and indeed are not a living creature at all! ”

    Of course there’s not a literal vow, any more than the colonies were literally a snake. Ampersand was accurately describing the actions ICE takes. That’s not inventing a made-up argument. That’s holding up a mirror.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    LimitsOfLanguage: No, and probably yes, but as unwritten discrimination, not as official policy.

    Celeste: Thanks! I entirely agree.

  7. 7
    LimitsOfLanguage says:


    Is that your impression or do you have have solid evidence for that claim? Also, is it correct that your actual belief is that ICE has less mercy for ‘brown people’ than for others, not that they have mercy for white immigrants, which your cartoon implies?

    Note that the Trump administration seems to have greatly increased deportations of Europeans as well (who are presumably usually white). I would argue that the way in which Denis Davydov was treated, according to the article, fits what you described in panel 2 (“I will throw them into prison without due process”)?

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