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GOP lawmakers seek answers in probe of appointee’s role, background in ICE contract approval process

Newly released memos seek details about ICE awarding authority to approve or terminate new detention facilities ICE-run programs. ICE assigned leadership to an individual who formerly worked for organizations that received funding from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and with groups that have labeled federal immigration enforcement authorities as a "threat to our civil liberties."

Published: November 27, 2023 6:30am

Updated: November 27, 2023 6:31am

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green, R., Tenn., along with two other House Republicans, are demanding that the Biden administration’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provide information on an agency official’s role in approving contracts exposed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

According to a May 12, 2021 memo that the DCNF recently obtained, ICE gave the authority to approve or terminate contracts involving new detention facilities and the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program to two individuals. These were Claire Trickler-McNulty, the ICE assistant director responsible for the Office of Immigration and Program Evaluation and Peter Berg, who was then the ICE deputy executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations.

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<p>Description automatically generatedBefore joining the Biden Administration, Trickler-McNulty worked for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which helps illegal immigrant children fight deportation. KIND has received funding from left-wing megadonor George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and government subcontracts from the Vera Institute of Justice, a group that has advocated against immigration detention and has labeled federal immigration enforcement authorities as a "threat to our civil liberties."

Green, alongside Republican Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina and Clay Higgins of Louisiana, sent a letter on Sept. 26 to ICE Acting Director Patrick J. Lechleitner, asking that he provide documents about Trickler-McNulty’s role and her work with the agency.

"According to a recently published internal memorandum, on May 12, 2021, then-Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson directed that all procurement actions relating to detention or ATD programs be approved by Ms. Trickler-McNulty," the congressmen said in their letter

"Prior to her role in OIPE, Ms. Trickler-McNulty was Deputy Director for Legal Services at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a nonprofit organization which previously demanded that the Department of Homeland Security cease all deportations, and affiliated with an ‘Abolish ICE’ organization during her tenure," they said.

During the Biden Administration, ICE has expanded social services and programs that monitor illegal immigrants who aren’t detained, including its “Alternatives to Detention” (ATD) program, which is used to monitor illegal migrants released into the country.

"The Biden Administration has relegated CBP to managing the border crisis, not ending it. President Biden’s and Secretary Mayorkas’ policies have turned CBP from a law enforcement agency into one focused on processing and releasing historic numbers of illegal aliens into the interior. They’ve also turned ICE into little more than a travel agency, tying the hands of ICE officials who want to do their job and enforce the law," Green said in an exclusive statement to the DCNF.

"Based on what we know so far, Ms. Trickler-McNulty has led this effort. Washington bureaucrats like Trickler-McNulty are furthering their partisan agenda and worsening the border crisis as Americans pay the cost," Green added.

There were roughly 83,000 people in the ATD program at the end of fiscal year 2019 and roughly 85,000 by the end of fiscal year 2020, according to ICE data.

ATD enrollment jumped to more than 136,000 in fiscal year 2021, according to ICE data. In fiscal 2022, it climbed to 322,000.

"Responsibility for administering the U.S. immigration system spans multiple agencies within the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. Policy decisions at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are made with coordination through interagency working groups to ensure ICE is working on behalf of the public and within the confines of the law" an ICE spokesperson told the DCNF.

"ICE continues to facilitate the safe, orderly, and humane management of the U.S. immigration system alongside its federal partners. ICE responds to official congressional correspondence through official channels," the spokesperson added.

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The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

  • According to a May 12, 2021 memo
  • authority to approve or terminate contracts
  • Trickler-McNulty worked for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
  • labeled federal immigration enforcement authorities as a "threat to our civil liberties."
  • sent a letter on Sept. 26
  • according to ICE data