Things That Matter

ICE Is Using Fake Facebook Accounts To Entrap Migrants Even Though Facebook Has Warned The Government To Stop

Last September, Facebook said it told the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that it must cease using fake profiles on the social media platform to monitor undocumented immigrants. Facebook claims that the company prohibits fake accounts and that DHS was violating its policy. 

“Law enforcement authorities, like everyone else, are required to use their real names on Facebook and we make this policy clear on our public-facing Law Enforcement Guidelines page,” a Facebook representative told The Guardian in April. “Operating fake accounts is not allowed, and we will act on any violating accounts.”

However, ICE and DHS have not stopped creating fake accounts, a tactic they began using in 2015. ICE has gone as far as luring in undocumented immigrants with these profiles and even creating a fake university. 

ICE uses fake Facebook profiles to track undocumented immigrants. 

According to the New York Times, ICE agents began to watch a largely Latinx community in Washington State’s Long Beach Peninsula, to properly identify the undocumented immigrants they created fake Facebook profiles. 

Glady Díaz Tadeo, a mother of three, posted a photo of piñata in the shape of a cupcake her family made, selling it for $20. Tadeo posted the item on a private Facebook group made up only of local residents. A person responded to the ad, the profile had a “Hispanic name” and a picture of a dog. 

Tadeo went to deliver the piñata and when she arrived two ICE agents showed her a printout of her Washington State driver’s license. Tadeo was taken to a private detention center, three weeks later she was deported to Mexico. 

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division created fake universities to lure in migrants. 

The Guardian discovered that over 600 Detroit, Michigan students, nearly all from India, were caught up in an HSI plan where they created multiple Facebook profiles tied to the University of Farmington — a fake college to lure in foreign nationals. 

The fake school had no employees save for undercover agents and described itself as “a nationally accredited institution authorized to enroll international students.”

ICE agents, posed as school officials from Farmington, would register students who had initially come to the U.S. on student visas but had them lapse. The intention, advocates believe, was to convince these migrants to commit crimes by allegedly making them believe they were legally obtaining student visas when they were not. 

Faiza Patel, the co-director of the liberty and national security program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, believes that the students had no idea what they were getting into. 

“Normally, we would like our law enforcement agencies to be investigating crimes that are already occurring as opposed to spending time and resources in creating elaborate sting operations,” said Patel.

However, a 2008 ICE handbook revealed, what would usually be considered entrapment for other law enforcers, is fine. According to The Guardian, the handbook stated that “while undercover agents are advised not to induce people to commit crimes, exceptions can be made and are internally regulated.”

In 2016, ICE did the same university stunt when 1,000 New Jersey students were lured in by fake school staffers who were really ICE agents. In both cases, ICE claims the students knew that they were committing fraud. 

However, workers near the building of Farmington told WXYZ that students regularly came to the building asking when school would open and complained they could not get in touch with school staff. 

“ICE knowing this or DHS knowing this tries to ensnare as many people as possible and get them wound up in an immigration system where they know that the cards are going to be stacked against the immigrant,” said Angelo Guisado, an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. 

Facebook repeatedly condemns ICE’s behavior. 

The Guardian reports that, “Facebook removed the University of Farmington accounts shortly after being contacted by the Guardian and a representative said it contacted the Department of Homeland Security about its policy on fake accounts.” 

Facebook said it would take action against any law enforcement officials impersonating others. However, this was just a few days after the Associated Press reported the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services planned to create fake social media accounts again. 

“An updated Homeland Security Department review of potential privacy issues… essentially reversed a prior ban on officers creating fake profiles,” the AP stated. “A USCIS statement explaining the change says fake accounts and identities will make it easier for investigators to search for potential evidence of fraud or security concerns as they decide whether to allow someone entry into the U.S.” 

While the practice has always violated Facebook’s policy, and the company has consistently condemned it, it still remains clear if ICE will ever stop. 

ICE Might Be Ignoring California’s Ban On Private Immigration Detention Centers

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ICE Might Be Ignoring California’s Ban On Private Immigration Detention Centers

Ronen Tivony / ZUMA

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) posted a request for new private migrant detention centers in California, a mere five days after Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill effectively banning such detention facilities. 

California is the first state to ban privately-run, for-profit immigration detention centers popular with the Trump administration. The new law will also ban private prisons and put a stop on new contracts after January 1, 2020, along with phasing out existing detention centers by 2028, according to the LA Times

However, on October 16, ICE posted a request for offers on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website to open up at least four new for-profit detention centers. Legislators and advocates believe ICE is attempting tp circumvent the law before the new year’s deadline by rushing new contracts through. 

Senator Kamala Harris calls out ICE’s controversial tactic.

“Let’s be clear: By rushing through new contracts before California’s ban takes effect, ICE is violating the spirit of California law and risks wasting taxpayer dollars in an attempt to lock away even more human beings,” said California Senator Kamala Harris. “We need to fight back.” 

In ICE’s request, according to Mother Jones’ review of FBO documents, they’re looking for “turnkey ready” detention centers in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles for “the exclusive use of ICE and the ICE detainee population.” ICE wants approximately 6,750 beds spread across the four facilities with contracts that would last five to 15 years. 

“The facilities shall be turnkey ready at the beginning of contract performance and able to provide housing, medical care, transportation, guard services, meals, and the day to day needs for ICE detainees,” the FBO solicitation says. “Due to mission needs, proposals for new construction will not be accepted for this solicitation.”

ICE already has four privately-run detention centers in California. 

“I’m not prepared to allow ICE to improperly violate AB 32 and hurt Californians,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta who wrote the bill. 

ICE has tried to undermine’s California’s status as a sanctuary city before.

“ICE is doing everything they can to circumvent California law,” Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network, told the Desert Sun. “It’s not surprising that ICE is doing this.”

It may not come as a surprise to Shah because ICE has used unscrupulous tactics before. Adelanto, the second-largest detention center in the country, was independently owned by GEO Group. When the city terminated its contract with ICE and GEO, the very next day ICE organized a deal directly with GEO, last June.

According to Desert Sun, “A September 2018 report from Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General found significant health and safety risks at Adelanto, including the issue of detainees hanging nooses made from bedsheets. At least three inmates have died at the facility since 2015 and seven inmates attempted suicide between December 2016 and October 2017.”

ICE criticizes California’s new law. 

ICE spokesperson Lori Haley claimed the only people that will suffer from the ban are California residents. 

“If this law takes effect, ICE would simply have to transfer individuals a greater distance from their arrest location to other facilities outside the state,” the agency said. “Thus, the impact would be felt by residents of California who would be forced to travel greater distances to visit friends and family in custody, and not by ICE.”

Advocates might say that convenience isn’t the issue at hand when it comes to for-profit detention centers. Nevertheless, Hamid Yazdan Panah, an immigration lawyer in the Bay Area claims that the rush to push through contracts might be evidence ICE has realized it won’t be too easy to transport migrants states and that they would actually have to detain fewer people, according to the LA Times. 

“They pick people up at certain points, have to process them and get them to a detention facility usually by evening,” he said. “The reality is they have a lot of protocols they have to go through and manpower considerations they have to deal with.”

For-profit immigration centers have got to go according to advocates. 

Over 70 percent of detained migrants are held in privately owned facilities, like GEO Group and CoreCivic. The Hill found that both organizations donated to Trump’s presidential campaign in 2017, then received $985 million in contracts with ICE. 

The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General found food safety issues, nooses, restrictive segregation practices, and unreported security incidents ran rampant at private detention centers, who are known to cut corners because they are businesses. Instead of holding the owners or managers of these facilities responsible with the usual financial penalties, the IG suggested ICE waived such fees and allowed the conditions to continue. 

“These twisted somersaults to push and bend federal protocols are a sign of desperation,” Bonta said. “It’s what you’d expect from a dying industry.”

His Family Begged ICE To Keep Him On Life Support Until They Could Say Goodbye But The Agency Didn’t Listen

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His Family Begged ICE To Keep Him On Life Support Until They Could Say Goodbye But The Agency Didn’t Listen

CoreCivic

Though much of the nation’s attention has focused on the plight of migrants crammed into overcrowded Customs and Border Protection facilities along the southern border, Abienwi’s case highlights concerns over the immigration detention system in the interior of the U.S.

ICE detains more than 52,000 migrants a day in a sprawling network of 225 detention centers and jails spread throughout the country. Government watchdogs have highlighted problems in those facilities, including nooses found in cells, detainees on hunger strikes and substandard medical care.

Abienwi is the ninth migrant to die in ICE custody over the past year, according to ICE data. His family and supporters said they want to know how that could’ve happened to a healthy man who had no medical problems before his confinement in the USA

An asylum-seeking migrant detained by ICE was pulled off life support after his relatives said they requested that doctors continue the lifesaving measures.

ICE said Nebane Abienwi, a father of six, died Oct. 1 after being detained at San Diego’s Otay Mesa Detention Center following a “medical emergency.” Since then, his relatives have reportedly been unable to obtain all the information about his death they have requested and his brother has twice been denied a visa to travel overseas to identify the body and bring it home.

His relatives say the move transpired despite their requests that life support be continued, according to USA Today.

“We did not approve” Abienwi’s removal from a ventilator, his brother Akongnwi, who requested he be identified only by his last name, told USA Today. “One hundred percent, we did not.”

More than a month later, the man’s body remains in the USA.

His relatives said they have been given little information about his death, and his brother has twice been denied a visa to travel to the USA to identify the body and accompany it back home to Cameroon.

Ever since, Abienwi’s youngest brother said he has been scrambling between U.S. embassies in South Africa and Cameroon, pleading for a visa to travel to California to get some answers.

He said he wants to make sure it’s really his brother’s body and to perform cultural rites on the body before the casket is sealed. He wants to know why doctors removed the ventilator that kept his brother breathing after he asked them to keep it in place until a relative could arrive.

Abienwi died after becoming critically ill while in ICE custody and was placed on a ventilator.

Akongnwi, speaking from a hotel room in Cameroon on Monday, said he spoke by phone with ICE officials several times Sept. 30, when they first called to say his brother had become critically ill and was on a ventilator. He said the ICE officials passed the phone to Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center officials, who explained that his brother was bleeding profusely in his brain and a ventilator was the only thing keeping him breathing.

Akongnwi said he shared the information with his brother’s wife and others in the family, and they all agreed Abienwi should be maintained on life support until a relative could be by his side.

“The family spoke and said, ‘We believe in miracles. It has happened to other families, why not ours?’ ” Akongnwi said. During the next call with ICE, “I made clear that he should remain like that and the family would decide if we want to take him off that machine or not.”

report released by ICE detailed what happened next.

On Oct. 1, at 12:05 p.m., two doctors analyzed Abienwi’s examination results, concluding they “were consistent with brain death and pronounced him dead.” Thirty minutes later, Abienwi’s family was notified, according to the report. Two hours later, hospital staff “discontinued Mr. Abienwi’s ventilator support,” the report said.

Akongnwi, who was in the process of submitting his passport information to U.S. officials and planning to fly to California, said he was never informed that his brother was taken off life support. He said he learned of that decision only when contacted by a reporter who shared ICE’s summary of the case.

“They said, ‘It’s very unfortunate, but your brother didn’t make it,’ ” he said. 

Sadly, this isn’t the first time this migrant detention center has been accused of substandard care.

The Otay Mesa facility, which is owned and operated by the private company CoreCivic, has been accused of not adequately addressing detainees’ health issues in the past. In February, more than 70 detainees in the facility signed a letter saying they had experienced racism and medical neglect at the facility.

The internal ICE report regarding Abienwi’s death shows that Abienwi, who’d already suffered from hypertension before being put in ICE custody, fell off his bunk bed on Sept. 26. After the fall, he appeared to be confused and sweating, and had difficulty moving his left arm and leg, the report says. Doctors initially concluded that he was fine, aside from having elevated blood pressure, but a subsequent exam found that he was suffering from internal bleeding.