According to the San Antonio Current, an “unknown group” distributed fake hand cards offering $100 to anyone who reports an undocumented immigrant to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The “official-looking business cards,” which were found outside a San Antonio, Texas Exxon station, offer the cash to anyone who calls the hotline and gets an “undocumented alien …. arrested and deported.” Some of the text on the back of the card seems to promise that Mexico will foot the bill. Why does that sound familiar?
“While the phone number displayed is the correct contact information for ICE’s actual tip line….this is NOT a poster issued by our agency,” wrote Nina Pruneda, a San Antonio spokeswoman for ICE, in an email to the Current. “These fake flyers are similar to the recent rash of false reports involving purported ICE checkpoints and random sweeps; these reports are dangerous and irresponsible.”
In Texas, fliers like these have mostly been found on college campuses. Like the December 2016 poster found on the Texas State University campus informing students how to report undocumented immigrants to ICE. It was also emblazoned with the official ICE seal, and the message: “We are entering an era of law and order in this country. Do your part to make such a change for good!”
Reports of citizens using the threat of ICE to further terrorize undocumented immigrant families aren’t isolated to just Texas, either. This past June, fake ICE flyers featuring instructions on reporting undocumented immigrants to federal immigration agents or risk jail time were posted throughout a Washington, D.C. neighborhood. That same month in San Francisco, a city employee dressed in a fake ICE jacket used his government-issued vehicle to drive to a local church and harass the Spanish-speaking congregants inside. Some real “economic anxiety” with some of these folks.
The fact is that while ICE is denying the authenticity of the numerous flyers posted around the country, the agency has been complicit in this harassment, giving a nod of approval to anti-immigrant activists through the establishment of VOICE, a government office that supposedly tracks crimes allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants, but is instead a smear campaign to further demonize immigrant communities.