Members of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency—who spend most of their time tearing families apart—are busy this week focused on another project: sharing pictures of themselves at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis ahead of the Super Bowl this Sunday. ICE even has a special Super Bowl hashtag, #ICEatSB52.
It’s all part of an annual promotional blitz which takes advantage of the huge Super Bowl audience to brand the agency as a group of patriots protecting fans from everything from terrorists to fake NFL jerseys. There’s everything from Twitter and Facebook posts to multiple videos on YouTube.
A 2017 ICE memo shows how ICE officials use Super Bowl enthusiasm to “maximize exposure” and “increase public awareness” of the agency’s intellectual property rights unit. (The memo was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Special Projects Desk, the investigative unit at Gizmodo Media Group.)
Super Bowl fans searching through the hashtag #ICEatSB52 won’t see ICE tweeting about the agency targeting three New Jersey fathers taking their kids to school, or how the head of ICE has terrorized immigrant communities with threats of street and home arrests. They will, however, see plenty of material about ICE agents protecting us from the scourge of counterfeit jerseys, as well as minute-by-minute updates about ICE security sweeps.
ICE declined to provide comment for this story. Instead, the agency directed us to its website, where there is a flashy section devoted entirely to its work at the Super Bowl. The page directs visitors to follow its “efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr.”
The 2017 memo shows that last year, the agency had a team shooting and editing footage of the agents at the Super Bowl to provide to news agencies at no cost. Another two staffers were in charge of posting updates on Facebook and Twitter. Another person was in charge of live streaming press conferences. And an ICE speechwriter based in Washington, DC, drafted the remarks an official read at press conferences.
The memo also shows the agency inviting local reporters on “ride-along opportunities” to join them as they arrest street vendors.
The media blitz consistently yields results. News outlets can be relied upon to write stories about ICE’s Super Bowl heroics, year after year after year. Sometimes they even put ICE’s own videos in their posts.
Another ICE success story! Take a look at the full 2017 memo below.