Two businesses based in Northern New Mexico who've worked on contract for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement tell SFR they either intend to cease their relationship with ICE or are considering it.
Wildflower International Ltd., an information technology company based in Santa Fe which sells hardware and software products and services, currently holds at least $248,774.31 in contracts with ICE, according to USASpending.gov. The duration of the contracts range from 2018 through 2020.
"The nature of the orders is for commercial, office administration type hardware and software (scanners, printers, monitors, et cetera) against a contract that is available to all of the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a part," explains Carly Rhodeside, the company's chief of operations, in an email.
In addition, one of the Wildflower contracts is described on USASpending.gov as part of an arrangement wherein an ICE detective in Baltimore received training in hard drive recovery and was then certified as a data recovery expert.
The contracts are active, but Rhodeside says that due to ongoing media reports about family separations and other alleged human rights violations by ICE agents against migrants, the company plans to end its relationship with the agency.
"After the developments of this summer, Wildflower's leadership decided that it would formally cease participation in any contractual activity at ICE, no matter the size, and regardless of the consequence of doing so with the management of the overarching contract," Rhodeside writes.
She did not say whether Wildflower had already informed ICE about its intention to pull out of contract agreements.
Another company that has worked on contract for ICE in Northern New Mexico, Akal Security in Española, is considering dropping its account with ICE, though the company says it has no active contracts with the agency. Akal is currently a subcontractor providing unspecified services for the firm Akima Global Services, which holds a $50 million ICE contract to run an immigrant prison just outside of Miami, Florida.
Akal, the Sikh-founded national security contractor that has received several billion dollars in government contracts since its founding in 1980, has worked with ICE and its predecessor, Immigration and Naturalization Services, for over 20 years, according to company representative Shanti Kaur Khalsa. The contracts were primarily for guards who would "maintain law and order" at immigrant prisons, Khalsa says.
In 2016, Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights released a report documenting ICE contractors who profited from "guaranteed minimums," or contracts that stipulated signing parties would ensure that a minimum number of beds in the detention centers were filled with prisoners.
The report describes Akal Security as having previously partnered with Akima Global Services to operate a detention facility near Buffalo, New York, on a 400-guaranteed minimum agreement in 2015. That same year, it also held another contract with ICE in partnership with the firm Doyon that had a 500-guaranteed minimum agreement for an immigrant prison in El Paso, Texas.
In a statement dated June 26, the company said it had received "many questions recently about Akal's mission and work in light of the global response to a US government immigration policy separating children from their parents."
The company "has had no involvement of any kind in the separation of children from their families under a now rescinded temporary US immigration policy," the statement reads. It acknowledges Akal's ongoing work as a subcontractor at an immigrant prison in Florida.
Khalsa, the Akal representative, says discussions within the company about terminating its account with ICE are ongoing. One factor at play, she tells SFR, is that the company's contractor status gives it access to ICE facilities. Khalsa tells SFR that tomorrow the Sikh Dharma International team, which is supported by Akal, will take "books and prayer books for the Sikh detainees held at the ICE El Paso Detention Center."
Several other companies have done work in Northern New Mexico as part of ongoing contracts with ICE, according to government figures. The public interest journalism website Sludge published an interactive map on July 5 detailing these relationships across the country, using data it scraped from USASpending.gov.
"I think it's important for people to know who the government is paying to operate in their communities, and we focused on ICE because of the recent immigrant crisis caused by the Trump administration," said Alex Kotch, a reporter at Sludge.
In recent weeks, protesters have occupied ICE facilities across the country, and a growing chorus is demanding the agency be dismantled. Three state legislators, including Senators Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque), Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque) and Representative Christine Trujillo (D-Albuquerque), signed an open letter in support of abolishing ICE.
Editor's note: The story has been updated with comment from Akal representative Shanti Kaur Khalsa about the Sikh Dharma International team's trip to El Paso.