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As the Trump administration has rolled out inhumane immigration policies the last few years, the news organization Reuters has consistently and aggressively covered the crisis, repeatedly publishing extensive reports on ICE's various human rights abuses.
But quietly, the company at large, Thomson Reuters, has also made more than $15 million in 2019 working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement through its subsidiaries West Publisher, a legal records publishing business, and Thomson Reuters Special Services (TRSS), a management consulting business. West Publisher has brought in $7.4 million from ICE this year, while TRSS has received $8 million from the agency in 2019.
Thomson Reuters currently provides ICE with access to a number of databases, including license plate scanning data and a “continuous monitoring and alert service that provides real-time jail booking data to support the identification and location of aliens,” according to ICE’s statement of work with TRSS.
Amid growing public animosity toward ICE, TRSS additionally agreed to a new $3.4 million contract in October to help the law enforcement agency protect its officers and officials through “threat mitigation services.”
The company’s ties with ICE run deeper than business contracts. The CEO of TRSS, Stephen Rubley, serves on the board of the ICE Foundation, a nonprofit that works to “support the men and women of ICE.”
In a statement to VICE, a Thomson Reuters spokesperson downplayed the company’s association with the federal agency.
“The services provided to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency by Thomson Reuters are explicitly in support of its work on active criminal investigations and priority cases involving threats to national security or public safety,” the spokesperson said.
Shortly after the Trump administration announced its family separation policy last year, the watchdog group Privacy International wrote Thomson Reuters a letter demanding that it cut ties with ICE because of the agency’s treatment of immigrants, particularly children. The company refused to stop doing business with ICE, arguing that it was not engaging in any illegal activities.
Asked whether or not the company believes that its work with ICE presents Thomson Reuters with a conflict of interest, a spokesperson responded, “The editorial integrity and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of Reuters news is completely independent of the business’s commercial relationships.”
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