South Park returned to Comedy Central this week with the premiere of its 23rd season, and the episode puts the spotlight on ICE and the treatment of immigrants in the United States. Because of the highly controversial practice of placing immigrants in "detention centers" which are eerily reminiscent of concentration camps, ICE and the Trump Administration have come under a lot of fire from the American public. The issue is a primary source of the great political divide that has taken place in the United States, as those opposing the practice find it completely unacceptable for others to support it. Using humor to highlight just how awful the situation has become, South Park tackles it head-on in the episode "Mexican Joker" by placing one of its own main characters in the middle of an ICE detention center.
In the episode, Kyle and his family are all detained when Cartman calls in an anonymous tip to ICE. Once there, Kyle discovers the place to be much more like a prison, shocked to see immigrants and their families detained with deplorable conditions for no good reason. For South Park, the situation is awful, but it does open the door to take some swipes at President Donald Trump. "I'm just here because of some fat intolerant asshole," Kyle mutters, prompting other children to respond, "Me too." These little moments are humorous, though watching the episode can still be uncomfortable to watch, as the inhumane treatment of immigrants at these camps is very real.
The new episode is called "Mexican Joker," with the idea that ruining childrens' lives at their young age is only going to make them grow up to detest the United States. "What you're doing here is creating the Mexican Joker," Kyle explains in the episode, comparing the practice of locking up children to a supervillain origin story. I don't believe South Park is suggesting that every person who endures this process will become a violent criminal in the future, but more simply stressing the point that this kind of behavior only makes foreigners come to hate the United States more - with a certain portion of them turning radical. In any case, there's no good to come out of treating human beings this way.
Certainly, while President Trump does have his supporters, the backlash against ICE based on their treatment of immigrant families and children continues to increase. Even asylum seekers and legal migrants are placed in these detention centers indefinitely as they await a hearing that will determine if they're legally allowed to stay in the country. The average wait time for these immigrants is four weeks, though The Guardian reports some remain incarcerated for years. Children are routinely separated from their parents, leading to countless horror stories of them never being seen by their families again. Regardless where one stands on the subject of immigration, there's no denying that the treatment of these people is terribly inhumane.
Nobody tackles controversy quite like South Park, so it's not necessarily shocking to see the animated series venturing into this territory. In addition to the ICE storyline, a subplot in the episode focuses on Randy battling home-grown marijuana. In other words, the South Park gang is clearly back and haven't skipped a beat. You can watch the episode yourself over at the Comedy Central official website.