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The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is set to launch a six-week “Citizens Academy” course on immigration enforcement, which will include training for citizens on how to arrest undocumented immigrants.

A letter published online by The St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA) appears to show ICE Chicago Field Office Director Robert Guadian inviting those interested to participate in the course, which includes six days of training over a six-week period starting in September.

“You have been identified as a valued member of the community who may have interest in participating in the inaugural class of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Chicago Citizens Academy,” the letter states.

Noting that the program is “the first of its kind,” Guadian states that the program will “serve as a pilot for nationwide implementation.”

In a statement sent to Newsweek, ICE spokesperson Nicole Alberico said the academy was “an extension of the community relations work ICE is already doing in the community.”

“The goal is to build bridges with the community by offering a day-in-the-life perspective of a federal law enforcement agency,” she said.

Alberico said the programming was modeled after other academies including those run by the Homeland Security Investigations unit, as well as by the FBI and local police departments “all with the goal of directly engaging and educating the public.”

In an official statement on the program, ICE further said: “The Citizen’s Academy is an opportunity for the community to get a transparent, insider’s view of ICE’s immigration enforcement operations.”

“ICE is inviting interested participants from a variety of stakeholder backgrounds including: Community groups, state/local elected leaders, Congressional staff, consular officials and business and religious leaders,” the agency said.

While Guadian’s letter did not mention these aspects of the academy’s curriculum, the ICE statement said it would “include, but is not limited to, classroom instruction, visiting an immigration detention center, learning more about the health care ICE provides to those in its custody, and examining ICE’s role in an immigration case from start to finish.”

“All federally-trained law enforcement officers go through such training and the Academy wants to show the community what this training looks like.

“Additionally, ICE wants to show the humanitarian efforts and due process that is behind every targeted immigration arrest.”

Alberico told Newsweek that ICE’s stance is that “the misunderstanding, anger and confusion of what the agency does on a daily basis is exactly why the Academy is needed.”

According to Guadian’s letter, the training would be held every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at ICE’s Chicago Field Office starting on September 15. The training sessions would culminate on October 20.

Following completion of the training session, a graduation ceremony is expected to be held on Friday, October 23, with graduates being awarded a certificate and a commemorative coin.


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