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By Jonah Bennett
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spent tens of thousands of dollars to send its officials to a “tolerance seminar” put on by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a group known for opposing immigration control efforts.
Documents provided by ICE to the Immigration Reform Law Institute in response to a FOIA request indicate that several dozen ICE officials attended a Simon Wiesenthal Center seminar in Los Angeles. The documents state that the training cost about $1,500 for each official.
The powerpoint presentation officials viewed at the three-day “Tools for Tolerance” seminar discusses ICE’s own goals regarding “workplace demographics” and the agency’s “diversity and inclusion strategic plan.”
And yet, the documents also show that ICE’s workforce, comprised of more than 200,000 employees, is already in full alignment with American racial demographics. What’s more, in some areas, ICE even far exceeds diversity requirements. More than 50 percent of Border Patrol agents are Hispanic.
The training was intended to develop “greater cultural awareness” and designed for agents to “recognize their own inherent cultural biases,” as The Daily Caller News Foundation exclusively reported in August 2016.
At the time, ICE refused to divulge information on how much of taxpayer funds it spent on the training.
The Simon Wiesenthal seminar is known for opposing immigration control efforts and has expressed dismay that former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill making it a crime on a state-level to be in the country illegally.
“This isn’t about immigration, it’s about discrimination,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center in a statement. “We should not forget that we’re a nation of immigrants. This law makes no sense– it guarantees and stigmatizes people of color as second-class citizens and exposes them to intimidation and the use of racial profiling as a weapon of bias.”
USA Spending shows that the Simon Wiesenthal Center already receives quite a few federal grants. For example, the Department of Homeland Security paid the center more than $100,000 in 2016.
In a statement to TheDCNF, ICE maintained that the training was a valuable investment.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is one of many law enforcement agencies that partner with The Museum of Tolerance to provide job-related training for its employees,” Virginia Kice, western regional communications director for ICE, told TheDCNF. “The customized training program developed by the Museum of Tolerance specifically for ICE was designed to enhance participants’ ability to address challenges and conflicts involving both the agency’s workforce and its interactions with external contacts. The primary goal is to foster a respectful workplace environment. To that end, ICE believes the funding for this training represents a valuable investment.”