Story at a glance
- Ex-Marine Travis Frey was recently fired from the Nevada Southern Detention Center.
- A Vice investigation alleged his active involvement on a neo-Nazi website and attempts to become more involved.
- Two Senators called for the Department of Homeland Security to investigate.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employee who captained a detention center in Nevada has been fired for alleged ties to a neo-Nazi website, according to a Vice investigation.
Travis Frey, 31, is a former Marine who worked at the Nevada Southern Detention Center in Pahrump, near the California border. Frey had a longstanding employment history with CoreCivic, a company that manages private prisons and detention centers across the U.S.
According to USASpending.org, the federal government, primarily the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, has had a total of 1,501 contracts with CoreCivic since 2008. The most recent contract was processed on Jan. 17, 2020.
Frey had first worked at the Georgia Department of Corrections, eventually getting hired by CoreCivic in August 2010, per his deleted LinkedIn page. He steadily rose through the ranks to become the chief of security. He had been working at the Nevada facility since 2018.
A lengthy Vice investigation discovered Frey had joined the white supremacy online forum Iron March in 2013, while employed with CoreCivic. Under the username “In Hoc Signo Vinces,” Frey espoused about 132 posts featuring racist, anti-Semitic and nationalist rhetoric.
It was later alleged that Frey attempted to start a white nationalist chapter in his Indiana community, where he worked at a different CoreCivic facility from 2016 to 2017.
In an emailed statement, a CoreCivic spokesperson told The Hill that “CoreCivic cares deeply about our employees, communities and the individuals in our care, and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” adding, “We take allegations like these very seriously and have thoroughly investigated the matter. After carefully considering the findings of the investigation, the company has taken the appropriate steps to protect the integrity of our workplace and ensure our values are not compromised. Mr. Frey is no longer employed by CoreCivic.”
The investigation prompted Nevada Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen to pen a letter dated Jan. 10 to Inspector General Joseph Cuffari of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In it, the senators asked for Cuffari’s office to investigate conditions at the Nevada Southern Detention Center, where Frey worked, following concerns “regarding the standards to which the company [CoreCivic] holds its employees after it was revealed that a captain...was active on a Neo-Nazi website.”
The senators cited rising hate crimes and two deaths on the premises as reasons for the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the center’s employees and safety conditions.
White nationalists and hate crimes have dominated recent headlines, including increased far-right visitors to concentration camps, anti-Semitic attacks in New Jersey and New York, secret racist Facebook groups operated by Border Patrol Agents, and Nazi salutes from West Virginia corrections cadets.
Speaking about the Frey case, Michael Kagan, University of Nevada Las Vegas’s Immigration Clinic Director at the Boyd Law School, said racism and white supremacy among corrections officers and personnel is likely systemic.
Kagan advocates “a top to bottom review of immigration enforcement to look at its mission and enforcement priorities and any connection its personnel has to white supremacy” to combat issues of racism in detention centers.