ICE Flooded With Thousands of Fake Applications for 'Citizens Academy'

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has been flooded with thousands of bogus applications for a controversial new "Citizens Academy" focused on its Enforcement and Removal Operations unit.

The flood of fake applications was prompted by a call to action from Never Again Action, a Jewish political action group campaigning to abolish ICE that draws its name from the "Never Again" slogan invoked in reference to the Holocaust.

"ICE is asking the public to apply to be part of their armed vigilante 'Citizens Academy,'" Never Again Action said in a tweet.

"Well, let's give them what they asked for: thousands of applications! Except our applications are going to be... a little different. Time to #FloodICE."

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The call to action was prompted after ICE's plans to launch its ERO-focused "Citizens Academy" came to light, with Newsweek reporting on a letter sent out to stakeholders by ICE Chicago Field Office Director Robert Guadian outlining aspects of the program, including "scenario-based training" in "defensive tactics, firearms familiarization and targeted arrests."

Since the letter came to light, ICE has sought to make clear that it will not be teaching participants how to make arrests themselves, but showing how arrests are facilitated by ICE agents.

The agency also said that the program was meant to educate the public and strengthen ties with U.S. communities.

Immigration advocates have not bought that defense, however, questioning why participants would need "scenario-based training" from ICE's ERO unit, which oversees arrests and deportations.

Since calling on followers to "flood ICE" with bogus applications, the Never Again Action group told Newsweek on Wednesday that thousands of fake requests to join the Citizens Academy program had been sent in to ICE.

The applications have been sent in from people from all walks of life, from immigrants in the U.S. to "K-pop stans," the organization said.

Indeed, some faux applicants shared their applications for the ICE Citizens Academy online, with one individual writing: "As a citizen and self-proclaimed academic, I am highly interested in applying to your citizens academy. I am vigilant, strong, intelligent, courageous, smart, and (as my ex-wife likes to say) not afraid to overcompensate."

"Here is an unordered list of the boots I have enjoyed licking," the applicant goes on to say, before listing a variety of types of boots, from "combat boots" to "galoshes."

"As you can see from the above list, I have the necessary experience for this citizen's academy. I look forward to helping you in your anti-anti-fascist efforts," they write.

The letter is then signed, "patriotically" by "Abe Olishise," a name that bears striking similarity to one of Never Again Action's oft-touted slogans: "Abolish ICE."

In another letter signed with the name "Dwight K. Schrute," a character from popular sitcom The Office, a sender writes that "as a volunteer Sheriff's deputy, I possess superior talents for investigative procedures and gathering intelligence."

"I've studied multiple martial arts forms at the advanced level, as well as the combat styles featured on the television show Battlestar Galactica," the writer says.

"I know my way around paper, so, I can handle the bureaucratic aspects of being a vigilante," they say, in a reference Schrute's job at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Inc. "I have a doglike obedience to authority," they add.

Clearly a dedicated viewer of the Office, the applicant then says: "Also, I have unrestricted access to immigrant agricultural workers as the owner of a beet farm."

"So, I have the ability, the motivation, and the opportunity to terrorize any brown people I come across, as soon as you show me how to use deadly weapons," they write, adding: "In closing, please give me this job. I'd walk over hot coals to get it."

In one tweet, a user calls on K-pop fans to "send in ur favorite kpop lyrics" to ICE.

"just used gods menu to apply to the ICE citizen academy and called their institution [flawed] and racially-biased," the Twitter user wrote.

While many fake applicants sent in humorous applications, some struck a more serious tone, with Twitter user Dash Kwiatkowski imploring ICE agents to "please consider the amount of hurt you are inflicting on people who simply need asylum."

"Please consider how your actions will be reflected in history. When history looks back at America and the humans who worked for this country to tear families apart and throw people into cages, consider what side of history you will be remembered as being a part of. You are hurting families. You are destroying lives. It isn't too late to quit. It isn't too late to stop punishing the innocent. You can still quit."

The ICE academy is set to move forward, starting on September 15, with training sessions being held every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. until October 20.

Democratic representatives have sought to prevent ICE from being able to dedicate funding to the program, however, with the House Appropriations Committee adding an amendment to its 2021 Homeland Security spending bill barring ICE from using money for the ERO academy.

"Citizens Academies" are nothing new, however, with Department of Homeland Security agencies, including ICE, having launched such courses in the past, with an ICE Citizens Academy first being launched under the Obama administration.

This would be the first time that a Citizens Academy would be focused specifically on ICE's ERO unit.

Newsweek has contacted ICE for comment.

ICE
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent prepares to arrest undocumented immigrants at Fresh Mark, Salem, June 19, 2018. ICE has faced widespread scrutiny over its 'Citizens Academy' program. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty
ICE Flooded With Thousands of Fake Applications for 'Citizens Academy' | U.S.