Inside Deloitte's secret contracts with ICE 

On July 1, Popular Information reported that Deloitte had inked $104 million in contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since Trump took office. The consulting giant also has signed $177 million in contracts with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since January 2017. 

Deloitte is making a lot of money helping implement Trump's draconian immigration policy. But what, exactly, is it doing?

Federal contracting disclosures are frustratingly vague. They only describe the substance of the contracts in general terms: "General Management Consulting Services," "Engineering Services," and, more ominously, "Detention Compliance and Removals."

Deloitte has sought to assure its employees and the public that its work with ICE and CBP is nothing to worry about. Last year, Deloitte employees petitioned management to stop working with ICE and CBP. "We believe that Deloitte must take a stand against the mistreatment of human beings," the employee petition said. 

In response, Deloitte said that the company "does not directly or indirectly support the separation of families" and "[a]ny such work would be inconsistent with our values." 

Deloitte did not elaborate on what it was doing with ICE and CBP. But an internal company email obtained by Popular Information and a LinkedIn profile by an enthusiastic Deloitte employee provide more information. 

Brown spills the beans

Jim Brown worked at ICE for 27 years. Among other things, Brown says he was tasked at ICE with "with the implementation of all [Executive Orders] regarding immigration enforcement."

In February 2018, Brown left ICE and joined Deloitte as a "Specialist Master" in the company's federal practice. Brown details his work for Deloitte in a public LinkedIn page. 

Brown says, at Deloitte, he is responsible for "day to day operations and efforts of teams assigned to immigration enforcement, field operations techniques, detention operations and practices, studies, analysis and project management within ICE Enforcement & Removal Operations (ERO)."

Among Brown's "accomplishments" is working with the "ICE facilities management group" on "detention bed space utilization and optimization processes."

What Deloitte management is telling its staff

Popular Information has obtained an internal email from two Deloitte executives, Mike Canning and Matt Widmer, to staff about the company's controversial ICE contracts. It paints a very different picture of the scope of Deloitte's work with ICE.

The email is apparently in response to Deloitte employees voicing concern about the contracts with ICE. The email "thanks" employees "who have raised your voice on these topics with passion and with professionalism." 

The email was sent on July 2, the day after Popular Information's report on Deloitte's multi-million dollar business with ICE. An excerpt:

Given recent speculation by media and advocacy groups regarding contracts held by a number of consulting firms, ours included, Matt and I wanted to share our perspectives on the portfolio of work performed by our Borders, Trade and Immigration (BTI) account...BTI encompasses Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)...Our BTI team deploys hundreds of practitioners who proudly serve or have served to help facilitate trade, support immigration benefits, assist our clients in preventing and responding swiftly to terrorist incidents, thwart drug smuggling, human trafficking, and transnational organized crime, and launch travel programs that serve the public.  We are proud of the work we do, and equally proud of the manner with which we have selected and will continue to select our projects to be consistent with our firm’s values.  

Canning and Widmer say that Deloitte does "not bid on work that is not aligned with our values."

Notably, the email does not mention Deloitte's work on "detention operation and management," "ICE facilities management," or "detention bed space utilization and optimization." This is all part of Deloitte's engagement with ICE Enforcement & Removal Operations highlighted in Brown's LinkedIn profile.

Deloitte responds

Popular Information contacted Canning and several members of Deloitte's communications staff and asked why Deloitte's work on ICE detention, facilities management, and removals wasn't disclosed to staff. Jonathan Gandal, Deloitte’s Managing Director for Communication, responded. Gandal claimed that Brown’s LinkedIn profile was inaccurate.

The social media profile you are referencing is from an individual who recently joined our Firm after a long career in government service and does not accurately reflect his responsibilities since joining Deloitte.  We have always been, and will continue to be, proactive and deliberate to ensure the work we choose to do is consistent with our firm’s values and brings positive impact to our clients, our people, and our communities.  We stand by our internally distributed email, which is entirely accurate. 

Deloitte did not indicate what was inaccurate about Brown’s LinkedIn page. The company did not deny that it worked with ICE on issues like “facilities management,” “detention bed space utilization,” and “removal.”

What happens at ICE facilities

Brown's LinkedIn page reveals that Deloitte is extensively involved in ICE facilities management. A report released by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General in June reveals that detainees are subject to inhumane and dangerous conditions. 

The report details the results of inspections of four ICE facilities. As of June, ICE operated about 200 facilities across the country, which detain over 50,000 migrants each day. From the report:

[W]e observed immediate risks or egregious violations of detention standards at facilities in Adelanto, CA, and Essex County, NJ, including nooses in detainee cells, overly restrictive segregation, inadequate medical care, unreported security incidents, and significant food safety issues...All four facilities had issues with expired food, which puts detainees at risk for food-borne illnesses. At three facilities, we found that segregation practices violated standards and infringed on detainee rights. Two facilities failed to provide recreation outside detainee housing units. Bathrooms in two facilities’ detainee housing units were dilapidated and moldy. At one facility, detainees were not provided appropriate clothing and hygiene items to ensure

they could properly care for themselves.

Deloitte is making millions of dollars from ICE, in part by managing and "optimizing" these facilities. 

Since Trump took office, at least 24 immigrants have died in ICE custody. 


Zero for Zeros

In June, Popular Information reported on nine companies that received a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) but donated over $1 million to anti-gay members of Congress over the last two years. These are politicians who received a zero on HRC's Congressional Scorecard. 

Now, there is a new campaign targeting all 49 companies that received a 100% rating but donated to anti-gay members of Congress. It's called Zero for Zeros

The group's first online ads launch today.


A vote on impeachment is coming this month

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democratic leaders in the House have opposed starting the impeachment process against Trump. Soon, however, it might not be up to them. 

On Monday, Congressman Al Green (D-TX) announced that "he will force a vote on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump by next week." 

Green was motivated to take action by Trump's racist attacks on four Democratic Congresswomen. "The President of the United States is a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, as well as an invidious prevaricator. To say that Donald John Trump is unfit for the Office of the President of the United States is an understatement," Green said. 

Green forced impeachment votes in 2017 and 2018 following racist comments by Trump. (The first impeachment resolution centered on Trump's comments on Charlotteville and the second on Trump's description of African nations as "shithole countries.") Each time, about 60 Democrats voted in favor of the impeachment. In those cases, most Democrats said Green's impeachment resolution was "premature," in light of the ongoing Mueller investigation. 

This is a different time. Mueller's report has been released an includes extensive evidence that Trump obstructed justice. (Mueller is scheduled to testify before Congress later this month.) Trump was also named as an unindicted co-conspirator in two campaign finance felonies. The racist attacks were against members of Congress. 

This will make it more difficult for Pelosi and the leadership to vote against Green's resolution -- although they are expected to do so. It will also be more challenging for House leadership to convince rank-and-file Democrats to vote against an impeachment resolution. 


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Trump's racist diatribe and the future of the Democrats

Donald Trump woke up on Sunday morning and fired off a racist rant targeting four freshman Congresswomen of color. It was not subtle. Trump's tirade would fit right in on any white nationalist message board. 

So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

The targets of Trump's tweets were Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Trump assumes they are foreign-born because they are not white. But Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York, Pressley was born in Cincinnati, and Tlaib was born in Detroit. Like most Trump tweets, it was inaccurate. Omar was born in Somalia but has been a United States citizen since 2000. Like the other three, Omar was elected to the United States Congress in 2018. 

It is their job to tell "the people of the United States...how our government is to be run" because the people of the United States elected them to do that. 

Trump has a long history of claiming that non-white people are foreign and then attacking them for their supposed foreignness. He rose to political prominence promoting the conspiracy theory that President Obama was secretly born in Africa. 

Now Trump's using his racist rhetoric to insert himself into a feud between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the four freshman Congresswomen. 

Pelosi fires back

Pelosi quickly rejected Trump's bigoted intervention on her behalf. 

When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to “Make America Great Again” has always been about making America white again. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power. I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation. Rather than attack Members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values. Stop the raids - #FamiliesBelongTogether!

While Pelosi and the four Congresswomen all reject Trump's policies and rhetoric, they have different views on how to effectively oppose the president. This is creating fissures within the Democratic Party.

The immigration split

The dispute between the four Congresswomen and Pelosi began in earnest during the recent debate over border funding. The Trump administration said billions of funding was urgently needed to address the humanitarian crisis on the border. 

House leaders, responding to concerns from progressives, crafted a bill that included some restrictions on how the Trump administration could use the money. But Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Tlaib, and Omar voted against the House bill anyway because they believed the Trump administration still couldn't be trusted.

Eventually, the House abandoned even those modest restrictions and passed the Senate version of the bill that provided the Trump administration $4.6 billion in funding with essentially no strings attached. Efforts to modify the Senate bill were thwarted by a group of Democratic moderates. The bill passed the House with more votes from Republicans than Democrats.

Pelosi, in an interview with the New York Times' Maureen Dowd, was dismissive of the four Congresswomen who voted against the initial House bill. "All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” Pelosi said

What happened since house Democrats gave Trump billions for the border

Everything that has happened since Congress approved the new funding suggests the Congresswomen's skepticism about how the money would be used was warranted. When Vice President Pence visited a migrant detention facility this week, reporters saw hundreds of men packed into one foul-smelling cell for days with no ability to shower or brush their teeth or even lay down. 

In response, Pence continued to blame Democrats in Congress for the conditions. "[T]he time for action is now and the time for Congress to act to end the flow of families that are coming north from Central America to our border is now," Pence told CNN.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that he had no intention of improving the conditions.

Trump is also touting poor conditions for migrants in campaign ads running on Facebook: "If illegal immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detention centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!"

Over the weekend, the Trump administration said it launched deportation raids in cities across the country. 

The impeachment split

Another source of tension between Pelosi and the four Congresswomen is impeachment. Pelosi argues that impeachment is pointless because the Senate will not remove Trump from office. She also argues that impeachment would motivate Trump's base and turn off independent voters from Democrats. 

Congresswoman Tlaib disagrees.

Her views are shared by at least 82 House Democrats who publicly support impeachment. They argue that Trump should be impeached because he has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors." No one is above the law and that principle, not short-term political calculations, should guide the party. 

Further, impeaching Trump could benefit Democrats on Election Day. It would focus the public on the details of Trump's criminal acts. If the Senate votes against removal, that could motivate the Democratic base to show up at the polls to finish the job. 

The silence of the Republicans

By opposing impeachment unless the Senate will remove Trump, Pelosi is effectively ceding all moral authority to Senate Republicans. Her approach means Trump has only committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" if Senate Republicans agree. The events of Sunday illustrates the perils of that approach. 

Trump told four Congresswomen of color to "go back" where they came from. Forget that three of Trump's targets were born in the United States. This is unambiguous racism.

As of Sunday evening, no Republican members of Congress have condemned Trump's racist tweets. Trump "knows he can say whatever he likes and face no consequences from the party he has conquered." He has unmoored the Republican Party from even the most rudimentary ethical principles. 

But Trump has not conquered the Democratic Party. Many people within the Democratic Party, from elected officials to ordinary voters, want to do anything and everything possible to oppose Trump's lawlessness and bigotry. 

As long as the House leadership choose to artificially limit their power based on the decisions of Republicans there will be conflict and tension within the Democratic Party.  


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How AT&T celebrated Pride Month

Last month, Popular Information exposed nine rainbow flag-waving corporations who have given millions to anti-gay politicians over the last two years. Topping the list was AT&T, which gave $2,755,000 to 193 anti-gay politicians in 2017 and 2018. This money went to members of Congress who scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional scorecard. 

To celebrate Pride Month in June, AT&T swapped in a new rainbow Twitter avatar. 

But it also continued to shower anti-gay politician with cash. During June alone, AT&T gave $144,500 to more than 40 anti-gay politicians and their leadership PACs, a new FEC filing reveals. 

Among the recipients of AT&T's money during Pride Month was Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), who received $1000. In 2017, Hartzler proposed legislation to deny medical treatment to trans members of the military. Hartzler said trans people who served in the military posed a danger to the United States that was similar to "North Korea, and Putin and ISIS." Hartzler's bill was defeated, but the policy was later adopted by the Trump administration. 

Hartzler "made a name for herself as an anti-gay crusader." In 2004, she "drew national and international attention for her work in the campaign for a constitutional amendment in Missouri to ban gay marriage." Mother Jones described her as the "most anti-gay candidate in America." A spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign described Hartzler as someone who wakes up "in the morning thinking about what she can do to harm the LGBT community."

When Popular Information's previous reporting on AT&T was picked up by the New York Times, the company defended its donations to anti-gay officials. "We support candidates on both sides of the aisle who are addressing the issues that impact our business, our employees and our customers. That doesn’t mean we support their views on every issue," Michael Balmoris, an AT&T spokesman said. 

But isn't LGBTQ rights an issue that impacts AT&T's business, employees, and customers? The company's Twitter account sure makes it seem that way. 


Acosta is not sorry

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is under scrutiny for the sweetheart deal he struck with accused pedophile and child rapist Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 when Acosta was a federal prosecutor. President Trump encouraged Acosta to hold a press conference to quiet the controversy. It did not go well. 

Acosta repeated a message to victims: "Come forward."

The implication was that Acosta cut the best deal that he could in 2008 because many Epstein's victims were not willing to talk to prosecutors or testify publicly. In other words, Acosta argues that the behavior of the victims forced him to give Epstein a favorable deal. It's victim blaming, wrapped in slightly more respectable language. 

It also ignores that many of Epstein's victims did come forward during the investigation that ended in the 2008 plea deal. Their allegations were contained in a 53-page draft federal indictment. Acosta, according to a federal judge, broke the law by failing to inform those victims about the plea deal. 

Acosta also attempted to blame the state prosecutor, Barry Krischer, who Acosta says was "ready to let [Epstein] walk." By Acosta's telling, it was only his heroic intervention that sent Epstein to jail. “I wanted to help them. That is why we intervened. And that’s what the prosecutors of my office did — they insisted that he go to jail and put the world on notice that he was and is a sexual predator,” Acosta said.

Krischer, however, said Acosta was "completely wrong."

Acosta let Epstein plead guilty to two state counts of soliciting prostitution. (In the press conference, Acosta admitted that Epstein's victims were not prostitutes.) Epstein ended up serving a 13-month sentence, spending 12 hours every day in a nearby luxury office on "work release." 

Acosta noted that he was not responsible for the terms of Epstein's incarceration. That's true, but only because Acosta agreed to let Epstein plea to state charges. 

Acosta accused his critics of holding him to an unfair standard, saying "[w]e live in a very different world. Today's world treats victims very, very differently." But Acosta's plea deal with Epstein was heavily criticized at the time. That's why Acosta penned an open letter in 2011 defending his role in the Epstein plea. The arguments that Acosta presented in Wednesday's press conference were nearly identical to his 2011 letter. 

Reporters asked Acosta several times if he would apologize to Epstein's victims. Acosta did not. 

The primary audience for the press conference was not Epstein's victims, but Trump. "My relationship with the president is outstanding. He has very publicly made clear that I’ve got his support,” Acosta said.

Acosta is hoping that an unapologetic show of strength will allow him to keep his job. 

Acosta proposed a massive cut in funds that protect children from sex trafficking

As Secretary of Labor, Acosta is in charge of overseeing much of the federal government's efforts to combat child sex trafficking. Acosta's proposed 2020 budget contains an 80% funding cut for the section of the Labor Department that fights "against the sexual exploitation of children." That section, known as the International Labor Affairs Bureau, would see its funding reduced from $68 million to $18.5 million. 

Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) called the proposed cuts "reckless" and "amoral." Kathleen Kim, a law professor at Loyola Law School, said the proposed cuts are "bound to expose children to more risk of sexual trafficking" and "will undoubtedly eliminate many of the US government’s anti-human trafficking efforts that have been critical in encouraging action by law enforcement."

Asked about the proposed cuts at his press conference, Acosta didn't have much of an answer. He said that those kinds of grants could be cut and restored later. 

What's next

For now, Trump is sticking by Acosta. But the scrutiny of his deal with Epstein isn't over. 

On Wednesday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent Acosta a letter, asking him to appear before the committee on July 23. "The hearing will examine your actions as United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida in authorizing a non-prosecution agreement for Jeffrey Epstein, as well as the finding by a federal court that you violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act by keeping this non-prosecution agreement secret from the victims of Mr. Epstein's crimes," Cummings wrote. 

Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) went a step further and called for Acosta to be impeached and removed from office.

At the press conference, Acosta did not say whether he would voluntarily appear before the committee.


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Ask Judd anything

On July 11 at 10 AM Eastern, I'll be answering questions from readers for about an hour. Ask me about corporate power, Alex Acosta, the 2020 campaign, or whatever is on your mind.

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