US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) is looking for new training structures to simulate the real-life scenarios it believes agents soon will be encountering.
Under the Trump administration, new ICE hires have focused on “civil and criminal immigration enforcement.” This push to “restore the rule of law” has led to increased detentions of people who have never committed a serious crime. It has also meant more arrests in the US interior, many hundreds of miles away from the southern border. At last month’s G20 summit, Trump said ICE would be launching raids to round up undocumented immigrants sometime after July 4. Today (July 10), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) acting director Ken Cuccinelli told reporters that the raids are “absolutely going to happen,” but refused to discuss “operational elements” such as timing.
Law-enforcement officers often practice maneuvers in environments known as “tactical villages,” which look like Hollywood sets without the cameras and lights. The FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia features a fake town called Hogan’s Alley that includes an ersatz bank, post office, hotel, and a movie theater. To train new ICE recruits, the agency’s Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs, located in Fort Benning, Georgia, says it will need mockups of residential buildings one would find in both Arizona and Chicago.
ICE says it wants the structures to “replicate geographic region[s]” chosen by the agency, per a request for information obtained by Quartz.
The portable, modular structures will consist of shipping containers that have been turned into “hyper-realistic” dwellings. They will include, according to the ICE solicitation, “atmospherics/set props found in typical residential buildings including faux drug or IED labs. Furniture, appliances, fixtures, clothing, toys, etc. Faux passports, currency and other type[s] of travel documents as well.”
The windows will be made from polycarbonate, not glass—for safety, and presumably, economic, considerations.
ICE’s Arizona-style home will consist of three 8 ft x 40 ft shipping containers placed side-by-side, creating a structure measuring 960 sq ft. It will include 10 windows, four entrance doors, and a minimum of six interior rooms. One of the containers will serve as a “garage,” complete with roll-up door, as well as an exterior door and window. The garage and the main house will have pitched roofs with shingles, interior electrical outlets, and a fenced-in yard area.
ICE’s Chicago-style home will be twice the size of the Arizona, with six 8 ft x 40 ft shipping containers stacked on top of one another to simulate a two-story apartment building. It will have 22 windows, three exterior doors, and one set each of interior and exterior stairs. There will be a minimum of five rooms on each floor, and a garage identical to the Arizona. Unlike the Arizona, ICE’s Chicago abode will feature an attic with a pull-down ladder and a trap door leading into the home.
A third, generic open-top structure called the “Fish Bowl” will give instructors a bird’s eye view of trainees as they make their way through the interior.
ICE estimates the whole job for creating all of the structures will cost roughly $17.5 million.