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ICE Beefs Up Security With ‘Operation Frozen Shield’: Leaked Memo

Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence testifies July 25 at a House subcommittee hearing.


(Image: Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images.)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has quietly authorized enhanced security measures to protect against threats like active shooters, according to an internal ICE memo obtained exclusively by The Young Turks.

The Oct. 11 memo announces Operation Frozen Shield, a “targeted operation” designed to beef up ICE’s security with an “enhanced set of protection activities,” including increased Federal Protective Services (FPS) activities at ICE facilities. The memo also makes reference to an earlier memo from the then-head of ICE’s parent agency, DHS, alleging a “trend of violence against our ICE officers and agents.” This follows a request by ICE for a contractor to perform up to $3.4 million in “threat mitigation” services.

The memo states: “On September 12, 2019, Acting Secretary [Kevin] McAleenan distributed the ‘ICE Support Memo’ in response to recent assaults and threats against ICE facilities and personnel. Accordingly, effective as of October 11, 2019, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) is implementing Operation Frozen Shield, which is a detailed plan to further enhance the protection of 396 ICE facilities under FPS’s purview. This new targeted operation will include an enhanced set of protection activities focused on increasing FPS activity at ICE facilities and coordination of FPS identified vulnerabilities with the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and ICE leadership to prioritize and implement previously identified countermeasures recommendations.”

“FPS field representatives will coordinate with Federal Executive Boards, Designated Officials, General Services Administration Property Managers, and Facility Security Committees to review, update as necessary, and rehearse Occupant Emergency Plans and Active Shooter Plans. More specific information will be provided at the field/office level to implement the full scope of Operation Frozen Shield.”

The memo does not go into further detail. Asked to explain what security measures Operation Frozen Shield will entail, an ICE spokesperson told TYT: “ICE will not discuss anything to do with force protection.”

“More specific information will be provided at the field/office level to implement the full scope of Operation Frozen Shield,” the memo states.

The memo, signed by ICE’s Acting Director Matthew Albence, is dated October 11 — the same day as the resignation of McAleenan, then Acting Secretary of DHS. Neither ICE nor DHS responded to a query from TYT asking if McAleenan’s resignation had anything to do with Operation Frozen Shield.

McAleenan’s resignation was a surprise to many. Last month, TYT reported that McAleenan had sent an upbeat agency-wide email celebrating a 2% increase in employee morale.

“It definitely came as a shock to those of us in DHS,” a DHS contractor told TYT. “What’s even stranger is that we never even received a resignation email. Normally when a DHS secretary/undersecretary/component leader leaves we get an email explaining why they’re leaving, that it’s been an honor to serve, and so on. We didn’t get anything of the sort.”

“It’s like they’re trying to sneak him out,” the contractor added.

A second source, an ICE official, confirmed to TYT that they did not receive a resignation email.

The October 11 memo references an earlier memo issued by McAleenan. That memo, dated September 12, warns of a “trend of violence against our ICE officers and agents.” The memo cites two examples: armed attacks on an ICE facility in Tacoma, WA, and one in San Antonio, TX. No ICE employees were harmed in either incident.

“This is not just a threat to the law enforcement professions within DHS but an affront to the rule of law itself,” the memo stated.

DHS’ outgoing acting secretary would not be the only Trump administration official with acute concerns about safety. Last year, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt hired a 20-person personal security detail, costing around $3 million.

The EPA Inspector General later issued a report concluding that the security detail had been unnecessary. Pruitt resigned in July of last year, following a battery of alleged ethics violations.

Earlier this month, The Daily Beast reported that ICE sought a contract worth as much as $3.4 million for “threat mitigation” services. According to the federal filing, the contract will focus on threats to ICE leadership and their families.

In a separate filing also reported by The Daily Beast, DHS awarded a nearly $2 million contract to provide Customs and Border Protection with access to “World-Check Risk Intelligence,” as well as social media data.

Asked if these contracts were related to Operation Frozen Shield, ICE referred TYT to CBP, which did not respond. ICE did not respond to a query from TYT asking if these contracts were related to Operation Frozen Shield.

Ken Klippenstein is a senior investigative reporter for TYT. He can be reached securely via Signal at 202-510-1268, on Twitter @kenklippenstein or via email: [email protected].

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