Blueprint for Terror: How ICE Planned its Largest Immigration Raid in History

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Washington D.C. — Today, Mijente, Just Futures Law and Detention Watch Network released a summary report, “Blueprint for Terror: How ICE Planned its Largest Immigration Raid in History,” exposing the targets, tactics and coordinated practices between federal prosecutors and local police in large scale immigration raids. Through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the FOIA summary report uncovers Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) culture of secrecy by examining the 2017 “Operation MEGA,” a mass detention and deportation operation planned by ICE. 

Billed by ICE as what would have been the “largest raid in U.S. history” in September of 2017, immigrant rights advocates across the country submitted over 200 FOIA requests to obtain information about “Operation MEGA.” After their requests were denied, groups filed a lawsuit to disclose information on the protocols and procedures for the immigration raid and other such mass operations.

“While the documents detail information about raids planned back in 2017, we noted the ‘rinse-and-repeat’ nature of ICE’s operations and what we can expect, as Trump reignites the threat of more raids to come after July 4th,” Jacinta González, Senior Campaign Organizer with Mijente. “We have learned from these documents how the scale of ICE operations accelerate because of technologies provided by Palantir, a company whose software makes it possible to identify, track,  and surveille immigrants. The emphasis on arrest quotas further puts everyone in our community at risk.”

Key findings discussed in the summary report include:

ICE used arrest quotas and anyone suspected of being a noncitizen was a target for deportation 

Although Operation MEGA was the largest raid ICE HQ planned, they  conducted multiple national operations in 2017. ICE recycles the same operations again and again for raids. 

These raids now use powerful tech and databases in the field. The planned raids in Operation MEGA/EPIC/Cross Check integrate the programs and databases of Palantir, a data-mining firm known for providing ICE with “mission-critical services.” They are now part of all enforcement actions by ICE. 

“The ongoing threat of mass raids for mass deportations has made it necessary for us to understand the inner workings of ICE’s mass raid operations,” said Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network. “We’ve confirmed in government documents that ICE operations are politically motivated. Immigration raids are meant to terrorize communities and instill fear.” 

“These documents expose how quota-driven raids feed the mass deportation and detention machine that treats people like numbers and targets, instead of people,” said Paromita Shah from Just Futures Law.

The summary report will later be released as a comprehensive report, but was fast-tracked in response to Trump’s ongoing threats of mass immigration raids.