High-ranking ICE officials shared and liked social media posts spreading conspiracy theories about immigrants and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), according to a BuzzFeed News report.
One post on LinkedInshared by senior ICE agent Leslie Derewonko and liked by Jerry Templet, the deputy special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in San Franciscowas about Rep. Omar, saying She is a Trojan horse thanks to the refugee outbreak in Minnesota under Obama! The post also included a misleading clip that claims to show Omar talking about taking terrorism classes. The implication of the post is that Omar is planning dangerous subterfuge, and should not be in office.
Derwonko also shared conspiracy theories about the migrant caravan that caused so much controversy in late 2018. According to BuzzFeed News, he shared and commented on several posts that implied that migrant caravans are somehow Election Day false flag operations. Other posts insinuated that the migrant caravan was an invading force somehow related to the U.N.
ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha said to BuzzFeed News, Social media content posted by employees on their personal platforms should not be considered representative of agency policies or positions. However, an anonymous former ICE official told the news site that these posts could be used by defense attorneys as proof of disqualifying bias within ICE; such bias could have negative impacts on the immigrantswho ICE interacts with and who are in their care. Officials at ICE are now reportedly reviewing the online activity to see if it violated any of its policies.
The head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Northern California, Zahra Billoo, called the posts concerning and said to BuzzFeed News, Seeing these posts worries me about [his] abilities to interact with Muslim and other immigration applicants without bias and a commitment to a fair application of the law.
H/T BuzzFeed News