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Two Nevada senators are calling on the Department of Homeland Security to investigate a privately-run ICE detention center after VICE News exposed that one of its senior employees has white nationalist ties.
Democratic Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto, in their letter to DHS’ inspector general, said that Capt. Travis Frey’s participation on a neo-Nazi website raised questions about the hiring practices of CoreCivic, a private corrections company that operates ICE facilities across the country.
Rosen and Cortez Masto also pointed to other recent incidents, including a detainee’s murder and an employee’s on-site suicide, as evidence that CoreCivic is failing to provide a safe environment at the Nevada Southern Detention Center, located in Pahrump, 62 miles from Las Vegas.
Frey, 31, was placed on administrative leave by CoreCivic last week while they examine some of the information that was brought to light by VICE News — including his five-year stint on the now-defunct neo-Nazi forum Iron March. Frey posted on the site at least a dozen times between 2016 and 2017, and talked about wanting to start a chapter of a white nationalist group in Indiana, where he was working as head of security at a different CoreCivic facility.
The CoreCivic facility where Frey works now has an average daily population of 189, and houses immigrant detainees alongside violent federal inmates, according to the Marshall Project. As of 2018, ICE contracts made up 25% of CoreCivic’s revenue.
“Concerns have been raised in recent days regarding the standards to which the company holds its employees after it was revealed that a captain at a CoreCivic facility was active on a neo-Nazi website,” Rosen and Cortez Masto wrote. “With overwhelming evidence that hate crimes are on the rise in the United States, it is critical our government take concrete steps to combat them.”
They want the Inspector General to assess how CoreCivic screens prospective employees, handles misconduct, and ensures employee safety — and whether the Pahrump facility is in compliance with those standards.
The senators also want to know more about the relationship between ICE and CoreCivic when it comes to ensuring the latter is complying with its contractual obligations, and whether DHS provides nondiscrimination or anti-harassment training to federal contractors.
Cover: Aerial shot of the Nevada Southern Detention Center