The Anchorage-based Trailboss Enterprises has won plenty of government contracts since its founding in 1994, and one of those includes operating immigration buses for the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.
A photograph of a cage-equipped bus with “TRAILBOSS ENT INC” logo circulated on Twitter last week, which lead to sleuthing and further circulation by the progressive Sleeping Giants social media account. Sleeping Giants directed followers to contact the company and “ask that they cease transporting children apart from their parents.” The tweet has been shared nearly 5,000 times.
The company’s website goes into detail about its government contract with ICE, stating its contract is to “Provide a fleet of vehicles (buses, vans, and sedans), teams of armed transport officers, firearms, restraints, and all equipment needed to safely escort and maintain custody of detainees in transport.” It handles transportation between “detention facilities, transportation points, hospitals, and courts.”
The tweet mentioned above isn’t the only image circulating of the Trailboss-operated buses. The photograph below is from June 17, 2018 of immigrants being dropped off at a bus station in McAllen, Texas. The photo in the banner of this post was also taken in McAllen in August of last year.
The company has reportedly handled contracts with the ICE for seven years, according to a report by KTUU that includes an interview with the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Bob Christe.
“It’s ICE’s mission — we just perform the transportation,” he explained to the station.
Christe said the company has two employees in the San Antonio region working under the transportation contract. No other company officials or the federal government responded to KTUU’s request for comment.
Company founder Joseph Tolliver, however, boasted in a 2008 interview with the Alaska Journal of Commerce that his experience in the Air Force “gives you a lot of influence over things” in a way that has helped his business win so many government contracts.
A recent Trump-backed crackdown on illegal immigration that includes a zero-tolerance policy to prosecuting illegal immigration cases (which are misdemeanors) that have resulted in the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents. The strong backlash has also draw attention to private companies that hold government contracts with border patrol.
Alaska officials reacted strongly to the headlines, calling on the administration to immediately end the practice. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker tweeted, “Frightening children by separating them from their parents in order to deter adult conduct is cruel and counterproductive. This policy should end today. Children belong with their families. Period.”
While many states pulled back National Guard members from helping at the border, Walker told the Midnight Sun in an interview last week that Alaska has no such resources located at the border and has received no such request.
Under heavy public backlash, the Trump administration attempted to scale it back with an executive order last week but with reportedly mixed implementation or success (there’s a court case that limits how long children can be detained with their parents to 20 days). A narrow legislative fix to the problem also appears unlikely to pass the U.S. Senate after attempts to pass immigration legislation in the House were undone by a Trump tweet.