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ICE’s Citizen Academy has lots of new applicants, but they’re fake

The program designed to teach everyday citizens how to be ICE vigilantes is the new target of digital-age protesters.

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In Chicago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is being bombarded with fake submissions for the agency’s Citizen Academy, a six-week program where ICE plans to teach attendees “defensive tactics” and “firearms familiarization” to arrest undocumented people. 

This protest was organized by the Jewish organization Never Again Action

“The idea is to flood ICE with thousands of fake applications so that they will be so overwhelmed that they won’t be able to find legitimate applications and run the program at all,” Alyssa Rubin, the campaign director told Motherboard

ICE hopes that this initiative will expand nationwide, so immigration activists have been diligent in warning people about it. In  a press release from July, ICE announced that the program will be a “way for participants to become familiar with how and why they carry out their mission.”

As news of this mission began spreading, Never Again Action shared a form on Twitter, inciting people to flood the online application process by sending in fake applications. 

“We need to disrupt ICE at every level of its operations, and we realized that we could harness the power of the internet to materially get in the way of ICE, even in the middle of a pandemic,” said Rubin.

The endeavor follows a recent activism trend of using online platforms to stage protests. Motherboard reported in May that a hacker was able to write a script that allowed people to automatically send junk data to Ohio’s controversial COVID-19 Fraud website. 

Rubin said that they were inspired by Gen-Z Tik Tok users who encouraged each other to buy tickets to Trump’s Oklahoma rally to leave a bunch of empty seats, and the K-pop fans who smothered a police scanner app in Dallas, Texas. 

“People have been using these kinds of creative tactics for a long time,” she said. 

ICE has been criticized for years over its mass-deportation tactics, the forced separation of migrant families and the inhumane conditions of its camps and detention centers. 

For many people across the country, the agency has become the most visible symbol of the aggressive and unnecessary immigration policies put forth by the Trump administration.

That correlation has even made it into the halls of Congress.

Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia of Illinois’ Fourth Congressional District wrote in a tweet, “the idea of setting a program to train people on how to arrest immigrants is always reprehensible and immoral, but to do it in the middle of a pandemic shows a new level of total disregard for people’s lives by the Trump administration.” 

 

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