A recent investigation by the Intercept has revealed that some of the U.S. president's high-level appointees had been profiting off of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, which has come under severe criticism in recent weeks over Donald Trump's family separation policy that sees children kept in cells alone while their parents are deported.
The report revealed a few of the senior officials placed in law enforcement roles by the Trump administration previously drew their paychecks from companies who have contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal law enforcement agencies.
The top federal prosecutor in Indiana, U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II, was sworn in last year to serve in the Justice Department, previously provided legal services to GEO Group, the flourishing private prison company that contracts with ICE to detain immigrants.
At a recent rally in Montana, the U.S. President Donald Trump, proclaimed: "We protect ICE ... They protect us and we protect them," referring to the law enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security, DHS.
A DHS spokesman told the Intercept about the former lobbyists' roles at DHS. "Pursuant to the Ethics Pledge restrictions on incoming lobbyists, as well as the Standards of Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, no DHS employee has any conflicts of interest. All of them serve, and will continue to serve, DHS and the American people with honor and integrity."
According to the Intercept, "Thomas Blank, the chief of staff at ICE, previously worked as a lobbyist at a firm called Wexler & Walker, where he specialized in helping companies secure security-related contracts before the government. His role there included working for the company now known as Axon, formerly called Taser, which contracts with ICE to supply the once-eponymous stun guns."
Lora Ries, an adviser to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services who has asked to call for an increased "interior enforcement" against undocumented immigrants, earlier worked for many DHS contractors as a lobbyist. And just before joining the Trump administration, Ries worked as an industry strategist for CSRA, a technology firm that provides the controversial "GangNet" database solution which is used by ICE to target gang members.
The Department of Homeland Security has made several such hires, and many of these ICE contractors also work at the Justice Department, too.
Last October, Trump hired Daniel Clayton Mosteller, the U.S. marshal for South Dakota, who previously worked for Forfeiture Support Associates, a private firm that contracts with ICE and other federal agencies which process assets seized by the government.
The report comes just days after a recent investigation led by Reveal News of the Center for Investigative Reporting, has revealed that a major U.S. defense contractor quietly detained dozens of immigrant children inside a vacant Phoenix office building with dark windows, no basic amenities, or kitchen but a few toilets for at least three weeks of the Trump administration’s family separation effort, as part of the "zero tolerance" policy. Per the records, the building was leased in March by MVM, a Virginia-based defense contractor that has received contracts worth up to US$248 million to transport immigrant children since 2014.
The company, which once provided guards for CIA facilities in Iraq, was founded by three former Secret Service agents. One of its vice presidents is a former CIA special agent and former acting director of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Reveal News reported.