Jennie Taer on September 22, 2023
The Biden Administration’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) handed the authority to approve or terminate certain contracts to an agency office headed by Claire Trickler-McNulty, an appointee who previously worked for a group seeking to shield migrant children from deportation, according to an internal agency memo exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Requests for contract approvals involving new detention facilities and the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program or a decision to terminate contracts regarding the aforementioned needed to have the approval of Trickler-McNulty, as well as then-ICE Deputy Executive Associate Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations Peter Berg, according to the May 12, 2021 memo. Before joining the Biden Administration, Trickler-McNulty worked for Kids in Need of Defense, which helps illegal immigrant children fight deportation, a recent Daily Caller News Foundation review of her bio and previous work found. (RELATED: Feds Don’t Have The Ability To Track All Illegal Immigrants Released Into The US, Watchdog Finds)
“Moving forward, the Office of Acquisition Management will not accept any ATD or detention procurement packages without the attached completed and signed form,” the memo states. “This approval process is effective immediately.”
The bottom of the form includes a section entitled, “Approvers.” It provides for the signatures of two individuals. The first is: “Peter Berg/Deputy Executive Associate Director (or higher level)/Enforcement and Removal Operations.” The second is: “Claire Trickler-McNulty, or designee/Assistant Director/Office of Immigration Program Evaluation.”
KIND, where Trickler-McNulty previously worked, has received funding from left-wing megadonor George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and government subcontracts from the Vera Institute of Justice, which advocates against immigration detention and has labeled federal immigration enforcement authorities as a “threat to our civil liberties.”
“This is unnecessary bureaucracy specifically designed to remove the ICE director from the decision-making process on detention matters, and give a Biden appointee veto power. It also makes the process to expand or change detention more cumbersome, effectively discouraging officers from doing anything to improve efficiency in carrying out the agency’s mission,” former ICE Chief of Staff Jon Feere, who served during the Trump Administration, told the DCNF about the memo.
ICE has been expanding its “Alternatives to Detention” (ATD) program, which is used to monitor illegal migrants released into the country. There were roughly 83,000 in the ATD program by the end of fiscal year 2019 and roughly 85,000 by the end of fiscal year 2020, according to ICE data.
After President Joe Biden took office, ATD enrollment jumped to more than 136,000 in fiscal year 2021, according to ICE data. In fiscal 2022, it climbed to 322,000. As of late August, there were roughly 195,000 individuals enrolled in the program.
During the Trump Administration, such contract proposals would go to the ICE director with financial and contract details provided by the agency’s Management and Administration (M&A) division, according to Feere, who now serves as director of investigations at the Center for Immigration Studies.
“Any political appointee would be free to play a role during this process, of course, and directors themselves are usually political appointees,” Feere said.
“So the Biden Administration could simply make Trickler-McNulty ICE director and she’d have total control over detention and every other issue, without the need to create new bureaucracy. But they haven’t done this, and are instead maintaining a career law enforcement official in the director’s seat while quietly stripping away his responsibilities and oversight,” Feere added.
ICE didn’t respond to requests for comment regarding the memo.