ICE postpones controversial ‘Citizens Academy’
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Thursday it was postponing a controversial sixweek “Citizens Academy” that was slated to start this month in Chicago.
Immigration advocates hailed the postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic as a temporary victory.
Advocates associated with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights had sent nearly 1,000 emails to ICE demanding it cancel the academy, now slated for the spring.
“This decision to postpone the academy is definitely a result of the pressure that was put on by many organizations, not just local but across the country,” said Rey Wences, of the Organized Communities Against Deportations.
ICE previously said the academy would be modeled after other law enforcement academies and would include an overview of immigration history, a demonstration of the training immigration officers go through, a tour of a jail housing detainees and information about the division that oversees flights that deport people.
But advocates decried the academy as an example of white supremacy, saying it would lead to more fear among the immigrant community.
Immigration advocates plan to move forward on Sept. 15 with their “people’s academy,” which was meant to counter the start of the ICE academy, Wences said. The advocates have also been hosting weekly webinars, with some drawing more than 100 participants, to inform the public about how ICE operates.
“We believe that this is not a time to slow down,” Wences said. “This is another reassurance that our movement can make an impact.”
ICE said it wouldn’t accept any more applications for the Citizens Academy, and would reach out to people who had applied to see if they were available in the spring.