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ICE postpones training for citizens to spy on and report undocumented neighbors

Organizations and activists consider the program to be an “invitation to vigilante activity”

Democratic lawmakers had already blocked funding for the program.

Photo: John Moore / Getty Images

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement service (ICE, for its acronym in English) announced this Thursday that it would postpone the start of the controversial Chicago Citizen Academy, a program with which the federal agency intended train citizens to become “vigilantes” spy on and report undocumented neighbors.

Organizations and activists that defend the rights of immigrants celebrated the decision that -as a consequence of the coronaviruswill not allow the six week training begin next September 15, some of these groups said in a statement.

ICE spokeswoman in Chicago, Nicole Alberico, told Efe that the program would be delayed until spring 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a new date has not yet been advanced.

The Registration to said academy is already closed and will not be reopened. The agency invited representatives of community groups, state and local leaders, congressional officials, foreign consuls and even business and religious leaders to participate in the training, according to the aforementioned news agency.

According to the schedule, the participants would go to class on Tuesdays and also visit detention centers where they will carry out training in “defensive tactics, familiarization with firearms and arrests“. ICIRR, an Illinois organization, considered the program an “invitation to the activity of vigilantes“.

Lawrence Benito, executive director of ICIRR, considers that “this is a great victory for our community and against the fear and racism embodied by ICE, which wants to train vigilantes in our backyard ”. Democratic lawmakers blocked in July allocating federal funds to the program for similar reasons.