ICE backpedals, says it won’t try to enforce subpoena against BuzzFeed News—for now

ICE had issued the subpoena through its Office of Professional Responsibility (of which it possesses neither) earlier this month, apparently pissed off over BuzzFeed News’ excellent reporting on a number of the administration’s immigration policies and demanding it name its sources by Dec. 22. 

In response, BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Mark Schoofs told ICE to shove it, calling the subpoena “an outrageous overreach by the federal government,” and “fundamentally at odds with the US Constitution and will not have any impact on our journalism.” Even an ex-ICE official under the Obama administration, former acting director John Sandweg, was critical. “This is embarrassing for ICE,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I think it is a weak effort to intimidate the press.”

But while ICE has backed down, it’s still keeping the threat of that subpoena dangling as a message to reporters doing their jobs informing the public about what the government is doing with U.S. taxpayer dollars that it’s always watching. “Until ICE withdraws its subpoena completely,” BuzzFeed News spokesperson Matt Mittenthal said in the report, “its stance toward the free press remains the same: anti-American, unconstitutional, and grossly inappropriate.”

ICE should have other things to worry about, like the fact that its refusal to release detained immigrants amid the novel coronavirus pandemic created a completely preventable mass health crisis.

“Taken as a whole, the spread of COVID-19 due to ICE’s negligence was dramatic,” Detention Watch Network said in a shocking new report. “Across the United States, the COVID-19 caseload surged over the summer of 2020. ICE exacerbated the pandemic. Between May and August, our analyses reveal that ICE detention facilities were responsible for over 245,000 COVID-19 cases throughout the country.”

The virus has more recently hit ICE’s migrant family jails, Prism’s Tina Vasquez reported. “Multiple detained families have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 26 of the children slated for deportation are now in quarantine.” That should be ICE’s concern right now. Instead, it chooses to waste time waging a losing battle against the truth as it’s actively responsible for helping worsen a pandemic.

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