Tags: George Floyd Protests | Immigration | Law Enforcement | Trump Administration | ICE | federal agents | dhs

ICE Moved Detainees to Use Flight Service to Transport Feds to Protests

federal agents and police stand in a line at night at a protest
Security officials form a line across a street in Portland, Oregon early July 26, 2020, as protests continued across the United States following the death of George Floyd. (Ankur Dholakia/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 11 September 2020 02:34 PM

In order to get federal agents to Washington, D.C., to help stop ongoing protests taking place earlier this summer, Immigration and Customs Enforcement used a flight charter service meant to move just detainees, according to a report.

The Washington Post reports that the flight charter service known as "ICE Air" is reserved solely for the transportation of detainees. To get tactical teams to the capital, ICE transported immigration detainees from Arizona and Florida to an immigration jail in Farmville, Virginia.

Current and former officials told the newspaper that the transfer of detainees was booked to skirt the rules that ban the flights from being used to relocate agents. 

According to a report obtained by the publication, the transfer of detainees contributed to a coronavirus outbreak in the facility. More than 300 detainees were infected with the virus and one person died, per the report.

Henry Lucero, the executive associate director of Enforcement and Removal Operations, said in a statement that the transfers were booked in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

“ICE transfers detainees due to the operational demands of the detention network. The June 2 transfer of detainees to Farmville was made as part of a national effort to spread detainees across the detention network to facilitate social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

But according to ICE numbers, detention centers weren’t at high capacity-levels. The center in Arizona, CCA Florence, was only 35% full, while Farmville was at 57% capacity, according to the newspaper.

According to the Post, Washington field office officials reportedly were against the move but were overruled by headquarters, who ordered the transfer to take place.

“They needed to justify the movement of SRT [special response team],” a DHS official told the Post about the flight.

Last month, Jeffrey Crawford, director of the company that runs Farmville, told town council members his staff was informed the transfers did not have the virus. He said his staff was told that local officials' opposition to the transfers was overruled by DHS headquarters, according to the Post.

"We were told that one of the facilities where the detainees were coming from had no instances of COVID-19. In hindsight, we believe we’ve discovered information that that is not accurate. But that is what we were told at the time," Crawford said.

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In order to get federal agents to Washington, D.C., to help stop ongoing protests taking place earlier this summer, Immigration and Customs Enforcement used a flight charter service meant to move just detainees, according to a report. The Washington Post reports that the...
ICE, federal agents, dhs, detainees, protests
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2020-34-11
Friday, 11 September 2020 02:34 PM
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