From [HERE] The 9/11 attacks gave us the DHS. And from that atrocity came ICE. We used to get by with Customs and a Border Patrol, but no, we needed something additional that tied the homeland's "security" to a new, deeply brutal form of "customs enforcement." Normally, the word "customs" would suggest the rounding up of illegal imported goods or the collection of duty payments from incoming arrivals.
Instead, we were handed an agency that concerns itself mainly with ejecting non-white people from the country in the most aggressive way possible, cheered on by White House officials and a large group of Americans who view our closest southern nation with deep suspicion and a touch of xenophobia. ICE's current activities aren't the fault of the Trump Administration, but this administration has done more than most to take everything that's bad about ICE (which is a lot) and crank it up to 11.
Warrantless raids, misrepresentation of advocacy efforts, deporting critical journalists… these are all part of ICE's playbook. But there's far more to it than this. The official "playbook" for ICE undercover operations basically allow the agency to operate as a criminal operation and engage in illegal activity for the greater good of booting immigrants out of the US.
The guidebook for ICE's undercover operations has been published by Unicorn Riot, which makes no statements about how it obtained this document. Its Twitter account refers to it as a "leak," which suggests this wasn't the result of a FOIA request. Regardless of its origins, it's a harrowing read. Many of the highlights of the 227-page manual [PDF] can be viewed in UR's tweet thread. Other details have been posted at its website, which takes a bullet-pointed trip through the entirety of the document.
What is crystal clear is that ICE undercover operations involve informants who are allowed to engage in criminal activity, including fun stuff like trafficking immigrants, purchasing stolen property, drug dealing, paying bribes, entrapment, and anything else that might be deemed "necessary" to ensure the viability of an investigation.
ICE employees are directed to conceal the “Undercover Operations Handbook” from discovery by defense attorneys for clients prosecuted as a result of DHS activities. The handbook contains the agency’s guidelines for infiltrating religious, political and media organizations, as well as how to pay off informants using stipends and/or commissions. Also included is information on undercover training school programs, and details about how ICE conducts undercover activity outside the United States and on the Internet. The manual also states that officers from “another federal, state, or local law enforcement agency” may voluntarily work undercover in operations directed by ICE. [MORE]
Informants are strongly encouraged not to engage in violent acts or entrapment, but given enough leeway to perform these acts if deemed necessary. The only thing that changes is the number of government officials receiving reports about these departures from policy guidelines.
If these sanctioned illegal acts happen to turn a profit, everyone wins. ICE itself can partake of funds obtained through illegal activity. Some of this is routed back to informants to purchase whatever's needed to continue the investigation. In many cases, this means funneling funds into purchasing supplies needed for further criminal activity. The funds may also be used to fund ICE itself. It's perfectly acceptable for ICE to use funds derived from the criminal activity of its informants to cover ICE agent overtime.
ICE is also authorized to create shell companies as cover for investigations. In ICE terminology, this is "backstopping" -- providing a credible back story for ICE operations should they happen to be investigated by their investigation targets. This ordained creation of shell companies allows ICE operatives to obtain fake SSNs, brokers licenses, medical degrees, pilots certifications, and immigration documents.
The shell companies themselves are made possible/plausible with the assistance of several federal agencies:
Federally-issued undercover identification/backstopping for undercover proprietary businesses and shell companies can be obtained through the Undercover Operations Unit.
Types of available corporate identification/backstopping include, but are not limited to, the following:
A. Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) (Note: All EINs must be obtained through the Undercover Operations Unit in order to avoid tax issues with the Internal Revenue Service);
B. Dun and Bradstreet reports;
C. Department of Transportation/Motor Carrier numbers;
D. Department of Defense Trade Compliance Registration numbers;
E. Office of Foreign Asset Control License;
F. FAA airplane registration number/certificates;
G. U.S. Coast Guard marine identification; and
H. business credit cards.
Then there's the list of personas undercover informants can adopt, which include priests/clergy, lawyers, doctors, therapists, and "news media." Naturally, some of these roles involve the harvesting of privileged communications -- even though the privilege is assumed by the person the informant is conversing with and certainly not extended by those working for ICE. But, as the handbook, points out, this puts informants in the position of overhearing actually privileged communications due to the nature of the charade, which may find them conversing with real lawyers, members of the clergy, doctors, and therapists.
This is referred to as "Sensitive Circumstances" by the DHS, an official designation that means nothing more than a case-by-case review rather than the blanket approval it extends to other undercover activities.
The guidebook, issued in 2008, may have seen some updates in recent months, but it's unlikely anything was added to rein in ICE's condoned criminal activity. Unicorn Riot notes it has confirmation this manual was still in use as of 2016, so it's not a relic of one particular administration. It apparently predates Obama's election and quite possibly extends into Trump's.
This shows how far our government is willing to go to enforce its laws. It will condone the breaking of laws in the name of enforcing them. The handbook may as well be named "End Justifies The Means" -- a 272-page compendium of acceptable means that would be unacceptable if anyone other than the government were engaged in them.