Contractor Says ICE Misled States on Optional Enforcement Program, Fuels Federal Investigation

A letter from a former ICE regional coordinator, who was let go for his role in the opt-out confusion, provides more details on the strategy behind the implementation of the Secure Communities program.

It was included in a series of letters sent by California Rep. Zoe Lofgren to Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General as evidence for an immediate investigation into the misconduct of immigration officials.

ICE contractor Dan Cadman sent a letter to California Rep. Zoe Lofgren hoping to set the record straight following his termination with the agency after a New York Times article revealed that immigration officials launched an aggressive campaign to obtain participation from counties refusing to join, and questioned Rahm Emmanuel’s involvement with that campaign.

“Mr. Morton would have you believe that the government never indicated that the program was voluntary, and this impression only gained currency because of me,” wrote Cadman to Lofgren. “That is ironic and untrue.”

Cadman’s letter to Lofgren was prompted after ICE head John Morton sent a letter to Lofgren expressing his regret over the confusion and that the agency was taking steps to address the issue including the termination of a contractor for authoring several unacceptable e-mails.

“It comes down to this: ICE painted itself into a corner and needed someone to blame,” Cadman wrote. “While my views over the nature of voluntary participation in the program may not accord with yours, I think you will agree after reading my letter that confusion over opting out of Secure Communities has arisen not because of me, but because of the government’s own vacillation, policy shifts, and inconsistent public stances.”

Moreover, Cadman attached a separate letter to Lofgren that he sent to Secure Communities Acting Assistant Director Marc Rapp, regarding his work on opt out policies and the expansion of the program, including activation in politically sensitive states. It also reveals a network of government contractors.

Cadman had worked on the program since December 2008 and became a regional coordinator in April 2010 overseeing activation in 30 of 50 states including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, until two more coordinators were hired, one in Sept. 2010 and the other in mid-January 2011. He was let go on March 25.

Cadman’s letter further fuels concerns about the Secure Communities program, which relies on local police to enter arrest data into a joint FBI and Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) database. In recent months, local officials have voiced concerns that the program is identifying too many non-criminals and straying from its mandate of targeting dangerous criminal offenders at the expense of public safety.

Lofgren’s letter to DHS OIG is the second within a month. Lofgren first requested an investigation in late April after internal documents documented ICE’s public relations campaign to implement Secure Communities in resisting counties in California. DHS OIG Charles Edwards informed Lofgren that the OIG has planned to review the program in the first quarter of FY2012.

“Mr. Cadman’s makes it clear that further investigation is needed to determine whether other DHS and ICE personnel or contract staff were responsible for any misleading statements that were made,” Lofgren wrote  Edwards.

At the same time, advocates continue to circulate a petition calling for a moratorium on the Secure Communities expansion following inquiries from Lofgren, Illinois Senator Menendez, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“ICE’s behavior is looking dangerously more like Arizona’s Sheriff Arpaio which perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by since its Arizona’s former governor leading the agency,” said B. Loewe, spokesperson for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “Cadman’s explosive accusations are just one more layer of deceit making an immediate investigation all the more urgent and a moratorium on the program all the more necessary.”