Failures

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
ice, immigrants, reporting, voice



'See Something, Say Something' But For Immigrants Continues To Collect Little But Petty Complaints From Petty Americans

from the 'dangerous-people-out-there,'-I-said,-pointing-towards-the-US dept

The president's new "see something, say something" program isn't about national security, even if he'll claim it is. It's about gathering whatever bits of evidence he can use to shore up his repeated claims about "dangerous" immigrants. The narrative doesn't work without it. Unfortunately, despite the money and manpower being thrown at it, the lack of "bad hombre" data continues to undermine this administration's assertions.

Last year kicked off with a bunch of ICE sweeps. Done in hopes of rustling up enough undocumented hardened criminals, it was a robust failure. Communications obtained from ICE show it inflated the number of "egregious" cases by cannibalizing reports from other jurisdictions, if not travelling back in time to include violators seized during 2016 raids. Even the inflated numbers were underwhelming.

The next step was the VOICE hotline -- a place where citizens could report suspicious individuals they suspected were undocumented and known criminals/immigrants. Calls are fielded 12 hours a day, supported by $1 million in annual funding taken directly from "any and all resources that are currently used to advocate on behalf of illegal aliens."

Data leaked by ICE showed this plan wasn't working either. A majority of the calls received reported aliens of extraterrestrial origin when not showering staffers with obscenities. The more "legitimate" complaints weren't all that legitimate. Many of the calls discussing illegal immigrants were nothing more than estranged spouses, angry parents, and other such upstanding Americans attempting to use ICE as an on-call vigilante force to remove people they didn't like from their lives.

VOICE is still in operation and has finally delivered its first report. As Vera Bergegruen reports for Buzzfeed, there's no success story to be found in its pages.

Since April of last year, six operators sitting at a call center in Laguna Niguel, California, have fielded an astonishing range of calls for 12 hours a day.

One caller asked to make a reservation at a Trump hotel. Another called to report that “a ‘coyote’ stole his cat.” Then there was the one who “requested to report Melania Trump, who is stealing caller’s taxpayer funds.” Another complained that “illegal aliens are going into her yard and taking food from her garden.”

Dozens of callers reported space aliens, some going into the details of what dates they were abducted by UFOs — all dutifully logged by the operators. Hundreds called to denounce ex-spouses, neighbors, and business rivals whom they suspected of being in the country illegally.

A much smaller number called to request information about the immigration status or the custody status of alleged criminals who are undocumented immigrants — the original purpose of the toll-free hotline.

It's more of the same stuff (inadvertently) reported by ICE when it moved an unredacted spreadsheet of call center info to an unprotected space on its document server. And it's more of the same petty misuse of government resources -- both by people trying to deputize ICE to fix their personal problems and prank callers seeking to derail the office's limited usefulness.

What can't be found anywhere in this report [PDF] is a justification for its ongoing existence. $1 million a year was supposed to buy the administration a whole lot of anti-immigrant narrative. Even in terms of this disingenuous effort, it has failed. But it goes beyond that. Even if you cede the argument that hardline immigration enforcement is necessary for the health and the security of this nation, the lack of actionable info makes it a waste of time and money.

[T]he office's first "quarterly report," released just over a week ago, 15 months after the office was officially launched and covering April through September of last year, provides no information on how many of the more than 4,000 calls it received involved crimes by undocumented immigrants. Nor does it say much about the “effects of victimization by criminal aliens” who, in the words of the memo that announced its establishment, "routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents.”

More than half the calls have nothing to do with immigrants, immigration enforcement, or reports of illegal activity. Sure, lots of this can be chalked up to prank callers, but many of these calls are also of the "I saw a Mexican in my neighborhood" variety. It's a vehicle for petty vindictiveness, which adds nothing to the understanding of the supposed immigration "problem," nor aids in the apprehension of actual dangerous criminals.

The report data shows 972 calls reporting crimes, but the underlying data shows many of these calls were reporting nothing more than perceived illegality related to citizenship.

[M]ore than one in five users used it as a tip line to report people they suspected of being in the country illegally — which the office is not supposed to handle, and has to refer to ICE’s tip line. Call logs show that the bulk of their allegations — marriage fraud, faking signatures, employing undocumented workers — was a far cry from the violent crimes the president cites when he talks about “criminal aliens.”

The decision to give ICE its own "see something, say something" hotline makes no sense. The DHS's hotline -- tied to its multiple "Fusion Center" boondoggles -- has resulted in little more than an expanding collection of non-actionable anecdotes from citizens who treat these call centers as a hotline for the redress of personal grievances where they can turn in neighbors, in-laws, their kids' friends, the sketchy-looking guy at the mall, etc. for simply existing. The fuel being thrown on the rhetorical fire by this administration has still failed to coalesce into a data-driven narrative about dangerous immigrants, but it's not for a lack of trying.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 12:06pm

    How is this "see something say something"?

    A much smaller number called to request information about the immigration status or the custody status of alleged criminals who are undocumented immigrants — the original purpose of the toll-free hotline.

    This would be the exact opposite of "see something say something" wouldn't it? Normally that phrasing implies they want to receive information from callers, not provide it to them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Jul 2018 @ 12:12pm

    I have a question

    How many callers claimed that Trump was an alien. Not that he was from another country, but from another planet? For more amusement, what things did they list as his criminal activities?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 12:20pm

      Re: I have a question

      They're not sending their best.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 12:49pm

        Re: Re: I have a question

        It's presumptuous for us to think the aliens will be explorers, the best of the best. They could just as well be the huddled masses, per our request, or refugees from a planet doomed by industrialization.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 1:13pm

          Re: Re: Re: I have a question

          … the aliens will be explorers, the best of the best.

          The “best of the best”, perhaps like Sir Francis Drake, for a ready example.

          Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540 – 28 January 1596) was an English sea captain, privateer, slave trader, naval officer and explorer of the Elizabethan era. Drake carried out the second circumnavigation of the world . . .

          Drake's exploits made him a hero to the English, but his privateering led the Spanish to brand him a pirate, known to them as El Draque. King Philip II allegedly offered a reward for his capture or death of 20,000 ducats . . .

          “Sea captain, privateer, slave trader, naval officer and explorer.” Well, slave-trader was slightly more respectable back in the day. And pirate—why even today, in some quarters, pirates are heroized, and mythologized.

          Anyhow, the “best of the best” may come with prices on their heads.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 1:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I have a question

            Anyhow, the “best of the best” may come with prices on their heads.

            Including the founders of the USA, who were all wanted for treason by the British.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 6 Jul 2018 @ 1:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: I have a question

          Earth is the Galaxy's Colonial Australia - dumping ground for alien society's refuse.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            carlb, 7 Jul 2018 @ 10:34am

            Re: I have a question

            No, the Thirteen Colonies were the original dumping ground of the refuse of the Empire. Only after conditions there degraded to outright treason did subsequent exiles become sentenced to transportation to Australia instead of that cesspool.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re: I have a question

        >They're not sending their best.

        No. They're sending the ones they want to get rid of.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 6 Jul 2018 @ 12:18pm

    Now I know

    Good to know where I can call for UFO sightings and abductions. In case I see a UFO I'll call them right up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Christenson, 6 Jul 2018 @ 1:35pm

      Re: Now I know

      lol Know I know what to do about those aggressive invasive aliens I have such a hard time killing....Kudzu, zebra mussels, garlic mustard, oriental bittersweet, wooly adelgids, and so on!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    FMHilton, 6 Jul 2018 @ 12:20pm

    Not really a failure

    True, it's a huge waste of time and energy-but it does say alot about this country.

    We haven't turned into a nation of paranoid crazies wanting to turn in our neighbors for being immigrants.

    No, just the aliens we saw in the backyard last night. It's a joke, and an expensive one, but at least we're not taking it seriously. (yet).

    It also proves that ICE should be abolished.

    However, we still have people calling cops on others for being alive and black. That's a real problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MikeC (profile), 6 Jul 2018 @ 1:28pm

    Let see - a voluntary process being derailed intentionally

    Let's see, I get from the article that the system is useless because aside from the crazies(to be expected) it's being intentionally undermined by the folks who don't like it's intended function therefore it's a bad idea. Personally I too am against it but it's a bit of a bad logic here. It's ineffective because it's being attacked by callers who want it to fail, therefore it's a bad idea.

    Basically we are saying ICE is bad because it tries to enforce laws passed by politicians who don't want those laws to be enforced even though the voted for them? There is plenty of video evidence of obama, clinton(s), democrats, etc.. and republicans too all saying we have to stop illegal immigration for security and a number of other reasons. But those same folks want to abolish ICE and hate Trump because they are enforcing the same laws those politicians passed.

    I would love to see true immigration reform with a true path to citizenship that is not almost impossible to get through. I would like a fast lane for those already in the system - ahead of those who are here illegally (yes not undocumented but "illegally") ... a path for those who jumped the line that doesn't require them to go back. But first you have to stop increasing the second set. That means enforcing the laws on the books or repealing those laws up front. But no one has the balls to deal with the problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 2:03pm

      Re: Let see - a voluntary process being derailed intentionally

      One way to stop separating families at the border, as well as reduce illegal immigration into the country, would be to gain practical control of our southern border.

      The easiest way to do this would be a wall. Would it be 100% effective? No. But nothing is 100% effective. This way, those families don't have the option to illegally cross, and are forced to enter through a legal port of entry. As asylum seekers are supposed to do, anyway. But we all know most of these aren't true asylum seekers. They're just taking advantage of our systems, coached to say the correct things.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Madd the Sane (profile), 6 Jul 2018 @ 2:16pm

        Re: Re: Let see - a voluntary process being derailed intentionally

        […] coached to say the correct things.

        Coached by whom? Coaching implies planning and organization. I can't imagine the hundreds (not an actual number, just an example) crossing the Mexican border taking lessons on how to act to game a system. Maybe a few, but not the majority.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Jul 2018 @ 3:32pm

        Re: Re: Let see - a voluntary process being derailed intentionally

        Another way would be to help the economies of those countries whose people feel the need to leave home, for a better life.

        There are other difficulties, like the threat of death from authoritarian governments, those who should be seeking asylum. The problem here is that we are seriously inept at 'fixing' foreign governments.

        The wall? Roughly 2000 miles long, no way Trump can find a way to pay for it, and whatever is left is where people will look to cross, though, I suspect they will find ways to cross where the wall exists, where we will likely stop looking for them.

        The better way to deal with the illegal emigration from the south is two fold. One, find ways to allow them in (think about the people who pick our crops), a job few 'Americans' want, and there are others (also think about their contributions to say, Social Security, which needs shoring up and we don't have the population contributing to do it, and the taxes they pay as well as other contributions to our economy). And two, spend some money (maybe what they would spend on a useless wall) to create jobs in those countries they come from.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 4:13pm

          Re: Re: Re: Let see - a voluntary process being derailed intentionally

          "The wall? Roughly 2000 miles long, no way Trump can find a way to pay for it, "

          he could tax the rich ..... hahahaha

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 3:55pm

        Re: Re: Let see - a voluntary process being derailed intentionally

        Were you just trying to cram as many unsupported assumptions into one paragraph as possible?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          MikeC (profile), 6 Jul 2018 @ 8:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: Let see - a voluntary process being derailed intentionally

          >>Were you just trying to cram as many unsupported >>assumptions into one paragraph as possible?

          Note you aren't willing to post your name or back your comment up with refuting evidence. I can however produce video of both clintons, obama, and pelosi all saying how we need to control the boarder and stop illegal immigration. They all talk it, no one does anything.

          Don't see what unsupported assumption is there. It's illegal to cross the boarder outside of a port of entry. The entire Rio Grande is not a port of entry. Everyone talked about how they would control illegal immigration, no one ever did it until Trump. ICE is simply enforcing the law. If you commit a crime in the US often you are separated from your children -- ask a lot of White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.. mothers in jails today. Don't believe it's a good idea, but why aren't you against separating mothers from children when the commit a crime if they not an illegal alien?

          https://thefederalist.com/2018/06/16/thousands-of-american-children-are-separated-from-parents -put-in-prison-every-year/

          If you are found in the company of a child that you can't prove it's yours when enter Canada - guess what you might get that child removed from your care.. same here.

          "The are committing a crime by entering illegally - not through a Port of Entry" it's that simple. It's against the law and congress has not changed the law. ICE is simply enforcing it. If politicians don't want it to happen - change the laws. It's really that simple.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 9:23am

        Re: Re: Let see - a voluntary process being derailed intentionally

        The easiest way to do this would be a wall.

        As soon as Mexico sends over the check.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 6 Jul 2018 @ 10:39pm

    Existential Crisis In Immigration Via Physics

    Schrödinger’s immigrant: simultaneously stealing your job and too lazy to work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 7 Jul 2018 @ 6:08am

    The folks crossing US borders without permission are Illegal Invaders, not undocumented immigrants. Try taking your family with small children south into Mexico without proper documentation and bypassing the normal entry points and see what happens.

    See something say something CAN work if there is proper triage on the calls and proper followup on those found useful. More then one potential school shooter has been picked up after reports were followed up on.

    BTW - coyotes taking cats and small dogs is a somewhat frequent occurrence in my state.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 7 Jul 2018 @ 7:14am

      Re:

      See something say something CAN work if there is proper triage on the calls and proper followup on those found useful.

      Let's see if I have this straight: Your solution is to spend another $1 million annually to create a pre-VOICE call center to screen the calls and eliminate the junk before passing it on to VOICE?

      Okay, I can see the political value. Now VOICE would get 100% good phone calls... well, except for those undreminers who managed to scam their way through pre-VOICE. Would feed nicely into the anti-immigration argument.

      But it wouldn't increase the volume of relevant calls to VOICE. Basically, it would just mean that we are spending $2 million dollars a year, the second million of which is a political stunt, to game what is already a political stunt.

      I don't know about everyone else, but I hate political stunts, and this would be just a real loser in my view.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SGOR, 7 Jul 2018 @ 10:16am

    fuel/fire/fear/foe

    Tim Cushing, of Techdirt.com is a genius. This bears repeating, Mr.Trump:

    ~The decision to give ICE its own "see something, say something" hotline makes no sense. The DHS's hotline -- tied to its multiple "Fusion Center" boondoggles -- has resulted in little more than an expanding collection of non-actionable anecdotes from citizens who treat these call centers as a hotline for the redress of personal grievances where they can turn in neighbors, in-laws, their kids' friends, the sketchy-looking guy at the mall, etc. for simply existing...~


    Google Duke Emmet Flood, for a direct call to the president.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2018 @ 3:06am

    "It's about gathering whatever bits of evidence he can use to shore up his repeated claims about "dangerous" immigrants. The narrative doesn't work without it."

    I think you're underestimating the reality distortion field surrounding the current administration. If they don't have evidence to back their claims they repeatedly ignore calls to produce it (FCC), or they manufacture it (DHS & DOJ).

    The supporters for strict immigration controls and/or full bans on immigration aren't going to care there's no evidence to support their position that immigrants are dangerous criminals waiting to happen. The opposite is just as true, no evidence to support claims that immigrants are less likely to be criminal than the general populace will not change people's belief that it must be true because *hand waves* "science proves it!" (The reality is there's no reliable statistics on the topic one way or the other thanks to lack of uniform relevant statistics reporting from LEOs.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    thebosz, 8 Jul 2018 @ 11:49am

    Good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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