DHS Records Regarding Family Separation and Communications with Anti-Immigration Activists

Records from the Department of Homeland Security regarding family separation and immigration policies including communications between anti-immigration activists and officials such as Ronald Vitiello, Barbara Gonzalez, and Frank Wuco.

In these records: 

Page 7: Ronald Vitiello, then the deputy commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, was emailed by an unidentified individual on June 25, 2018, who said that they met at ICE’s headquarters that month. The individual writes, “if you have time go on FAIRUS.org samples of crimes, Story of Ronald da Silva to see my story.” 

Ronald da Silva is likely the son of Agnes Gibboney, an anti-immigration activist who identifies as an “angel mom” — mothers whose children were killed by undocumented immigrants. Gibboney has appeared on Fox News to talk about family separation and endorsed President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign. 

Pages 724–726: Veronica Venture, an official at the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), sent an email on July 5, 2018, to Nathalie Asher and Tae Johnson at ICE about family separation. Venture recommended creating a cross-component Vulnerable Populations Working Group: “we did get some allegations about children with disabilities being separated from their parents without proper care being in place to take care of them.”

A few hours later, Venture emailed Asher and Johnson again with concerns over providing proper language assistance: “We are just hearing from advocates that in administering its new form on family reunification prior to removal, ICE doesn’t seem to be providing effective language assistance. In particular, we’ve heard reports of Brazilians being given the form in Spanish without Portuguese interpretation, but if that’s happening I have to wonder about the Mayan or other indigenous languages too. Portuguese telephonic interpretation is usually one of the most easy and reliable, so a problem here may indicate that the language line may not be getting used at all.”

Pages 729–731: An unnamed White House official emailed Marguerite Telford of the Center for Immigration Studies on May 11, 2018, with the subject line, “response to Kelly’s comments on illegal immigrants.” Telford responded to the White House official with a link to a National Review article by Mark Krikorian, former CIS executive director. The official replied: “Thanks for the defense!”

Page 732–734: On August 23, 2017, an unnamed “Immigration Reform Activist” emailed Barbara Gonzalez of ICE a series of opinion pieces with the subject line “OPEDs in the Illinois Review on Governor Rauner’s willingness to sign instead of VETO SB 31 Sanctuary Law in the entire State of Illinois.” 

“Four (4) of us Illinois men who have lost family members to illegals […] have repeatedly asked Governor Rauner’s Staff for an [sic] face to face look at the victims side of this issue […] Frank, if you have any connections with the HLS and President’s Staff, we could use some help to get this Republican Governor to VETO this Bill! ICE has the authority to override it anyway, Obama is gone, they have no more protection, and when the Judges are replaced the Sanctuary ‘safe zones’ will be a moot point!”

An unnamed sender sent a second email the same day, writing: “I am asking Frank Wuco, Senior White House Advisor (VOICE) if he can get some help from General Kelly, his old Boss or the President himself on this issue of a Republican Governor encouraging the State to be a Sanctuary by not VETOING SB 31! I would also like to get this out to Brietbart [sic], I’m sure they will see the danger and overwhelming costs to implement this program.”

Wuco replied, copying Gonzalez, ICE Senior adviser Jon Feere, and ICE Assistant Director for Public Affairs Liz Johnson: “My prayers for your continued healing […]. Our Public Affairs staff and VOICE Office are aware of this timely development and are working an appropriate communications and approach plan.”

Wuco has a record of promoting anti-Muslim and birther conspiracy theories. He currently works with the Department of Homeland Security as a senior White House adviser.