“This information is an important public resource for understanding ICE programs and increasing accountability, especially in light of the extreme actions taken by ICE lately, such as the separation of children and parents at the US border,” WikiLeaks wrote in its description of the data set.
Publication of the information comes amid intensifying anger at U.S. immigration officials and the Trump administration for its “zero tolerance” policy that has separated children from their parents along the border and follows heckling incidents directed at two of the architects of the policy, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen and White House aide Stephen Miller, as well as protests against ICE in Oregon and a rise in abusive social media posts about immigration authorities.
WikiLeaks, the website that published the Hillary Clinton email dump during the 2016 presidential election, is most notorious for its publication of classified or otherwise confidential documents, such as CIA documents detailing hacking techniques. Some have speculated that its founder, Julian Assange, has connections to Russia, since the intelligence community believes Russia stole Clinton’s emails but has not pinpointed how they ended up on WikiLeaks. In another high-profile case, Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst, went to prison for leaking a trove of U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010, including video footage of the U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad.
In this case, WikiLeaks appears to have reproduced a project created by a New York-based artist and programmer named Sam Lavigne, who has taught as an adjunct instructor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts.
Lavigne first attempted to publish the ICE database Tuesday using GitHub, which hosts open-source software development projects. At that time, it contained information about more than 1,500 apparent ICE employees. But GitHub took it down, and the Web page says, “This repository has been disabled.” Lavigne also published a blog post on Medium about the project, but Medium, too, took down his post, titled “Downloading the profiles of everyone on LinkedIn who works for ICE.”
“As ICE continues to ramp up its inhumane surveillance and detention efforts,” he wrote, “I believe it’s important to document what’s happening, and by whom, in any way we can. To that end, I’ve downloaded and made available the profiles of (almost) everyone on LinkedIn who works for ICE, 1595 people total. While I don’t have a precise idea of what should be done with this data set, I leave it here with the hope that researchers, journalists and activists will find it useful.”
On Wednesday, the left-wing website Splinter News published what it claimed was the cellphone number of Miller because of his defense of family separations, saying, “Perhaps you would like to call him about it.” Twitter temporarily suspended users who shared the article.
The same day, the office of Melania Trump complained to the Secret Service after the actor Peter Fonda went on a Twitter rampage saying Barron Trump should be “PUT IN A CAGE WITH PEDOPHILES” and that people should get the addresses of ICE agents and “SURROUND THEIR HOMES IN PROTEST.” Fonda later apologized.
And also on Wednesday, the ICE office in Portland, Ore., shut down because hundreds of protesters set up camp right outside its doors, blocking the entrance. Many of the protesters spent the night in tents for what the Oregonian described as a “round-the-clock-vigil.” They gathered Tuesday afternoon to protest family separations and remained there after President Trump signed an executive order halting the separations, turning to family detention instead.
Employees had to be escorted out of the building.
“ICE operations at this location have been temporarily halted due to security concerns,” a representative said in a statement Wednesday morning, according to the Oregonian.
It closed again Thursday.
“Wherever ICE agents dare to show their faces, they must be challenged and shamed for carrying out this fascist policy,” the organization, OccupyICEPDX, said in a statement on Facebook.
The group said it plans to stay “until concrete meaningful action is taken to reunite these families,” encouraging similar protests at ICE offices across the country.