U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Logo.svg
Logo of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Badge of a U.S. Homeland Security Investigations special agent.svg
HSI Special Agent badge
Flag of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.png
Flag of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Abbreviation ICE
Motto "Protecting National Security and Upholding Public Safety"
Agency overview
Formed March 1, 2003; 15 years ago (2003-03-01)
Preceding agencies
Employees 20,000+ (2016)
Annual budget $7.6 billion (2018)[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency United States
Operations jurisdiction United States
Constituting instrument
General natureFederal law enforcement
Headquarters Washington, D.C.

Agency executives
  • Ronald Vitiello, Acting Director of ICE
  • Peter T. Edge, Acting Deputy Director of ICE and Executive Associate Director for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  • Matthew Albence, Executive Associate Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)
Parent agency U.S. Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a law enforcement agency of the Federal government of the United States under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ICE has two primary components: Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). Headquartered in Washington, D.C., ICE is charged with the investigation and enforcement of over 400 federal statutes within the United States and maintains attachés at major U.S. diplomatic missions overseas. ICE does not patrol American borders; rather, that role is performed by the United States Border Patrol, a unit of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is a sister agency of ICE.[2][3][4]

The former acting Director of ICE, Thomas Homan, was replaced by Deputy Director Ronald Vitiello on June 30, 2018.[5]


ICE headquarters building in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was formed pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, following the events of September 11, 2001. With the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, the functions and jurisdictions of several border and revenue enforcement agencies were combined and consolidated into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Consequently, ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and the second largest contributor to the nation's Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The agencies that were either moved entirely or merged in part into ICE included the investigative and intelligence resources of the United States Customs Service, the criminal investigative, detention and deportation resources of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Federal Protective Service. The Federal Protective Service was later transferred from ICE to the National Protection and Programs Directorate effective October 28, 2009. In 2003, Asa Hutchinson moved the Federal Air Marshals Service from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ICE,[6] but Chertoff moved them back to the TSA in 2005.[7]


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is responsible for identifying and eliminating border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security vulnerabilities. There is an estimate of about more than 20,000 ICE employees in approximately over 400 offices within the United States including 46 other countries.[8]

The organization is composed of two law enforcement directorates and several support divisions each headed by a director who reports to an Executive Associate Director.[9] The divisions of ICE provide investigation, interdiction and security services to the public and other law enforcement partners in the federal and local sectors.

The Director of ICE is appointed at the sub-cabinet level by the President of the United States, confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and reports directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security.[10][11]


  • Director (until July 2010 the title has been "Assistant Secretary")[12]
    • Deputy Director
      • Enforcement and Removal Operations
        • Removal Division
        • Secure Communities and Enforcement Division
        • Immigration Health Services Division
        • Mission Support Division
        • Detention Management Division
        • Local Field Offices
      • Homeland Security Investigations
        • Domestic Operations Division
        • Intelligence Division
        • International Operations Division
        • Mission Support
        • National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center
        • National Security Investigations Division
      • Management and Administration

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)[edit]

HSI Special Response Team (SRT) members training using armored vehicle at Fort Benning in Georgia.

HSI special agents investigate a range of issues that threaten the national security of the United States such as human rights violations, human smuggling, art theft, human trafficking, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, document and benefit fraud, the manufacturing and sale of counterfeit immigration and identity documents, transnational gangs, financial crimes including money laundering and bulk cash smuggling, trade-based money laundering (including trade finance and Kimberley Process investigations), computer crimes, including the production and transportation of child pornography via the Internet, import/export enforcement, trafficking of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and other merchandise, and international Cultural Property and Antiquities crimes. HSI agents can be requested to provide security for VIPs, and also augment the U.S. Secret Service during overtaxed times such as special security events and elections.

HSI was formerly known as the ICE Office of Investigations (OI). HSI agents have the statutory authority to enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act (Title 8), U.S. customs laws (Title 19), general federal crimes (Title 18), the Controlled Substances Act (Title 21), as well as Titles 5, 6, 12, 22, 26, 28, 31, 46, 49, and 50 of the U.S. Code. HSI has more than 6,500 special agents, making it the largest investigative entity in the Department of Homeland Security and the second largest in the federal government.


The Office of Intelligence is a subcomponent of HSI that employs a variety of special agents and Intelligence Research Specialists to facilitate HSI's tactical and strategic intelligence demands. Collectively, these intelligence professionals collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence for use by the operational elements of DHS. The Office of Intelligence works closely with the intelligence components of other federal, state, and local agencies. Many HSI field offices assign intelligence analysts to specific groups, such as financial crimes, counter-proliferation, narcotics, or document fraud; or, alternatively, they can be assigned to a residential intelligence unit, known as a Field Intelligence Group (FIG). HSI agents assigned to FIGs generally focus on Human Intelligence (HUMINT) collection.

International Operations[edit]
HSI special agents aiding with rescue effort for the 2010 Haiti earthquake

International Operations, formerly known as the Office of International Affairs (OIA), is a subcomponent of HSI with agents stationed in 60 locations around the world. HSI's foreign offices, known as Attaché Offices, work with foreign governments to identify and combat transnational criminal organizations before they threaten the United States. IO also facilitates domestic HSI investigations by providing intelligence from host countries, conducting collateral investigations, and facilitating international investigations conducted by field offices within the United States.

Special Response Teams[edit]

Seventeen HSI field offices maintain a Special Response Team (SRT) that operates as a federal SWAT element for the office's area of responsibility (AOR).[13] SRT was founded under the U.S. Customs Service as the Warrant Entry and Tactical Team (WETT) and were renamed to SRT in 1998.[13] The SRT handle HSI's high-risk arrest and search warrants, barricaded subjects, rural area operations, VIP protection, sniper coverage for high-risk operations, and security for National Security Events. HSI's active SRTs are located in Tampa, Miami, Arizona (Phoenix), New Orleans, Houston, New York, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Juan, Detroit, San Francisco, El Paso, Chicago, San Diego and Washington, D.C. There is also a team of instructors and coordinators stationed full-time in Columbus, Georgia. These teams primarily deploy to handle high-risk operations, but also assist in events such as Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake 2010, and other natural disasters around the globe.

SRT is a collateral duty open to HSI agents assigned to an office with a certified team. To qualify, candidates must pass a physical fitness test, qualify with multiple firearms by shooting 90% or better in full tactical gear, and pass an oral interview process. If a candidate passes these stages and is voted on the local team, they are then designated "Green Team" members and allowed to train with the certified team members. Green Team members are eventually sent to the SRT Initial Certification Course at the Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs, Tactical Operations Unit (OFTP/TOU)Fort Benning, Georgia, where they must pass additional physical fitness, firearms, scenario-based and written assessments.[14] Out of approximately 6,500 special agents, there are currently only approximately 250 certified SRT members nationwide.

HSI SRTs often conduct training exercises with various federal, state and local teams, and also assist other teams during national events or large-scale operations that require multiple high-risk scenarios to be conducted simultaneously. The working relationship between the SRTs and the U.S. Department of Defense's U.S. Special Operations Command has led to SOCOM providing the SRTs with excess Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs), firearms, and other gear designed for the U.S. Tier One groups.

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)[edit]

ICE ERO officers deporting a man to Mexico.

ERO is responsible for enforcing the nation's immigration laws and ensuring the departure of removable immigrants from the United States. ERO uses its deportation officers to identify, arrest, and remove immigrants who violate U.S. immigration law. Deportation officers are responsible for the transportation and detention of immigrants in ICE custody to include the removal of immigrants to their country of origin. Deportation officers prosecute immigrants for violations of U.S. immigration and criminal law, monitor cases during deportation proceedings, supervise released immigrants, and remove immigrants from the United States.[15] Deportation officers operate strategically placed Fugitive Operations Teams whose function is to locate, apprehend, and remove immigrants who have absconded from immigration proceedings and remain in the United States with outstanding warrants for deportation. ERO manages the Secure Communities program which identifies removable immigrants located in jails and prisons. Fingerprints submitted as part of the normal criminal arrest and booking process will automatically check both the Integrated Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division and the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) of the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT Program.

ERO was formerly known as the Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO).

Office of State, Local and Tribal Coordination (OSLTC)[edit]

OSLTC is ICE's primary outreach and communications component for state, local and tribal stakeholders. It is responsible for building and improving relationships, and coordinating activities with state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies and through public engagement. It also fosters and sustains relationships with federal, state and local government officials and coordinates ICE ACCESS programs (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security).

Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA)[edit]

OPLA provides legal advice, training and services to support the ICE mission and defends the interests of the United States in the administrative and federal courts, including representing the government of foreign nationals for the purpose of removal (previously known as "deportation") process.

Office of Professional Responsibility[edit]

OPR is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct involving employees of ICE. OPR preserves the organizational integrity of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by impartially, independently and thoroughly investigating allegations of criminal or serious administrative misconduct by ICE employees worldwide. Additionally, OPR inspects and reviews ICE offices, operations and processes so as to provide executive management with independent reviews of the agency's organizational health. In this role, OPR assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of ICE in carrying out its mission.

Former units[edit]

The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) was aligned into ICE shortly after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. On October 16, 2005, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff officially approved the transfer of the Federal Air Marshal Service from the Bureau of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the TSA as part of a broader departmental reorganization to align functions consistent with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "Second Stage Review" findings for:

  • consolidating and strengthening aviation law enforcement and security at the Federal level;
  • creating a common approach to stakeholder outreach; and
  • improving the coordination and efficiency of aviation security operations.

As part of this realignment, the Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service also became the Assistant Administrator for the TSA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), which houses nearly all TSA law enforcement services.

The Federal Protective Service (FPS) was moved from the General Services Administration (GSA) to ICE upon the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The FPS was later moved out of ICE to the National Protection Programs Directorate.

Originally a part of the U.S. Customs Service's Office of Investigations, the Office of Air and Marine (then called the Air and Marine Interdiction Division) was transferred to ICE in 2003 during the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, becoming the Office of Air and Marine Operations. Due in part to a 500 million dollar budgetary dispute between CBP and ICE, in 2004 ICE Air and Marine Operations was transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. CBP Air and Marine still works closely with ICE to support the agency's domestic and international law enforcement operations.[16][17][18][19]

The Office of Detention Policy and Planning was responsible developing and maintaining ICE's National Detention Standards, which set out detailed rules for how immigration detainees were to be treated differently than criminal inmates.[20] In April 2017, President Donald Trump decided to close the office and to stop including the standards in new jail contracts.[20]

Assistant Secretaries and Directors[edit]

No. Picture Name Took office Left office President
Assistant Secretary
1 Michael J. Garcia - official portrait.jpg Michael J. Garcia March 2003 September 2005 George W. Bush
John P. Clark
September 2005 January 2006
2 Julie myers lg.jpg Julie Myers January 4, 2006 November 14, 2008
John torres lg.jpg John P. Torres
November 17, 2008 May 12, 2009
Barack Obama
3 John t. morton ice director.jpg John T. Morton May 12, 2009 July 31, 2013 Barack Obama
John Sandweg
August 1, 2013 February 21, 2014
Thomas-winkowski-md.jpg Thomas Winkowski
Acting as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
March 16, 2014 December 23, 2014
4 Saldana.jpg Sarah Saldaña December 23, 2014 January 20, 2017
DanRagsdale1.jpg Daniel Ragsdale
January 20, 2017 January 30, 2017 Donald Trump
Thomas D. Homan.jpg Thomas Homan
January 30, 2017 June 29, 2018
Ronald Vitiello.jpg Ronald Vitiello
June 30, 2018


Newly hired ICE law enforcement personnel receive their training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. To meet division specific academic and practical instruction, the ICE Academy varies in length from 4 to 6 months depending on the position. Furthermore, following graduation, all ICE law enforcement personnel undergo additional post academy training, as well as career-continuous training. Specific course curriculum is kept confidential, but both ERO and HSI new hires undergo training related to basic law enforcement tactics, immigration law, firearms training, emergency response driving, and Constitutional law. HSI agents also receive training regarding U.S. customs law, warrant service, advanced tactics, undercover operations, criminal interrogation, weapons of mass destruction, and other subjects routinely encountered by HSI agents in the field. ERO deportation officers undergo several weeks of intensive Spanish language training prior to graduating.


An Air and Marine Operations (AMO) UH-60 Black Hawk supporting an HSI operation
HSI Special Response Team (SRT) drug raid during Operation Pipeline in Arizona.

HSI special agents and ERO deportation officers are issued the SIG Sauer P320C pistol chambered in the 9mm cartridge, as their primary sidearm. Secondary weapons are on a list of authorized weapons published by the agency to its agents and officers. They also may be assigned the Remington Model 870 shotgun or the Colt M4 carbine. Agents can also be assigned the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.

ICE operates the only nationwide radio communication system in the federal law enforcement community. The system, known as the National Law Enforcement Communications Center (NLECC) is Motorola-based and employs a technology specifically designed for ICE known as COTHEN (Customs Over The Horizon Network). Consequently, HSI special agents, ICE officers, and authorized subscribers are able to communicate with one another across the nation using NLECC's strategically placed repeaters and high-speed data lines. The center, commonly referred to internally as Charlie-100, is based in Orlando, Florida.[21]

Investigative programs[edit]

ICE special agent detaining a suspect

National security[edit]

The National Security Division monitors the conduct of field enforcement operations in the investigation, detection, interdiction, prosecution, and removal of foreign-born terrorists, terrorist supporters, and hostile foreign intelligence agents located within the United States. This branch also has operational oversight of all HSI special agents assigned to the 103 Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF), provides continuous support to all counter-terrorism investigations and HSI field offices supporting those counter-terrorism efforts and provides actionable proactive counter-terrorism lead information, in furtherance of preventing and disrupting terrorist cells made up of foreigners domestically and abroad.[21]

Transnational gangs[edit]

In February 2005, ICE began Operation Community Shield, a national law enforcement initiative that targets violent transnational street gangs through the use of ICE's broad law enforcement powers, including the unique and powerful authority to remove criminal immigrants, including illegal immigrants and legal permanent residents.[22] Under Operation Community Shield, ICE:

  • Partners with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, in the United States and abroad, to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach in conducting criminal investigations and other law enforcement operations against violent street gangs and others who pose a threat to public safety.
  • Identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements.
  • Deters, disrupts and dismantles gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.
  • Seeks prosecution and/or removal of immigrant gang members from the United States.
  • Works closely with our attaché offices throughout Latin America and foreign law enforcement counterparts in gathering intelligence, sharing information and conducting coordinated enforcement operations.
  • Conducts outreach efforts to increase public awareness about the fight against violent street gangs.

Drug trafficking[edit]

HSI agents share concurrent jurisdiction with the FBI and DEA in the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act. HSI agents investigate drug trafficking organizations who import their products across the U.S. air, land and water borders, as well as their smuggling methods, which include the use of high-speed vessels, cargo containers, aircraft, commercial trucking, commercial vessel and human carriers. HSI agents enforce a wide range of federal drug statutes, and unlike DEA and FBI, can also use Title 19 of the U.S. Code to prosecute drug smugglers for the importation of drugs.

HSI drug trafficking investigations are often worked under the auspices of HSI-led Border Enforcement Security Taskforces (BEST), High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) groups, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Through Memorandum of Understanding agreements, HSI's primary focus is the importation and subsequent trafficking of illegal drugs, while domestic production and sale is the focus of the DEA.

Cyber crimes[edit]

The Cyber Crimes Center (C3) Child Exploitation Section (CES) investigates the trans-border dimension of large-scale producers and distributors of images of child abuse, as well as individuals who travel in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in sex with minors. The CES employs the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups, and peer-to-peer trading. These investigative activities are organized under Operation Predator, a program managed by the CES. The CES also conducts clandestine operations throughout the world to identify and apprehend violators. The CES assists the field offices and routinely coordinates major investigations. The CES works closely with law enforcement agencies from around the world because the exploitation of children is a matter of global importance.[23]

C3 brings the full range of ICE computer and forensic assets together in a single location to combat such Internet-related crimes as:

  • Possession, manufacture and distribution of images of child abuse.
  • International money laundering and illegal cyber-banking.
  • Illegal arms trafficking and illegal export of strategic/controlled commodities.
  • Drug trafficking (including prohibited pharmaceuticals).
  • General Smuggling (including the trafficking in stolen art and antiquities; violations of the Endangered Species Act etc.)
  • Intellectual property rights violations (including music and software).
  • Immigration violations; identity and benefit fraud

C3 consists of four sections, three of which provide cyber technical and investigative services, the Cyber Crimes Section (CCS), the Child Exploitation Section (CES), and the Digital Forensic Section (DFS). The fourth section, the Information Technology and Administrative Section (ITAS), provides the technical and *operational infrastructure services necessary to support the other three C3 sections. The center is a co-location of special agents, intelligence research specialists, administrative support, and contractors, all of which are instrumental in operational and technical continuity. Within each section, there are various program managers assigned to certain programmatic areas. These program managers are responsible for supporting ICE Internet investigations through the generation and the dissemination of viable leads. Program managers are available to provide guidance and training to field agents as well as to other law enforcement (foreign and domestic) upon request.[23] Strategically located HSI Field Offices have their own Cyber Forensics Laboratories staffed by Computer Forensics Agents (CFAs). These CFA's are HSI special agents who have been extensively trained in cyber investigative techniques and protocols.

The CCS is responsible for developing and coordinating investigations where the Internet is used to facilitate the criminal act. These investigations include fraud, theft of intellectual property rights, money laundering, identity and benefit fraud, the sale and distribution of narcotics and other controlled substances, illegal arms trafficking and the illegal export of strategic/controlled commodities and the smuggling and sale of other prohibited items such as art and cultural property. The CCS is involved in the development of Internet undercover law enforcement investigative methodology, and new laws and regulations to strengthen U.S. Cyber-Border Security. C3 supports the ICE Office of Investigation’s (OI) domestic field offices, along with ICE foreign attachés offices with cyber technical, and covert online investigative support.[23]

  • Operation Apothecary: The CCS, the HSI Commercial Fraud Section and the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center have partnered together and launched a comprehensive Internet pharmaceutical initiative designed to target, arrest and prosecute individuals and organizations that are involved in the smuggling of counterfeit pharmaceuticals of a controlled and non-controlled nature as well as scheduled narcotics via the Internet. The focus is also on the affiliates of the rogue pharmacies that are typically operated by criminal enterprises whose sole purpose is to generate large sums of money, with no regard to the health and welfare of the public.
  • Intellectual Property Rights: The CCS has encountered thousands of web sites based in the United States, as well as foreign that are engaged in the sale of counterfeit merchandise (including music and software) via the Internet. The CCS continues to work closely with the National IPR Coordination Center, the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) at the DOJ, and industry representatives to identify web sites responsible for the sale of the counterfeit items.
  • Arms and Strategic Technology: The CCS works to prevent proliferate countries, terrorists, trans-national criminals from obtaining strategic materials, funds and support and to protect the American public from the introduction weapons of mass destruction and other instruments of terror from entering the United States.
  • Identify Fraud Initiative: The availability and use of fraudulent identification documents has always been a concern to the law enforcement community. While traditionally available from street sources, fraudulent identification and travel documents, of all types, are also readily available for sale via the Internet. In the post 9/11 world, fraudulent identity and travel documents are of an even greater concern to ICE because of the alarming threat they pose to ICE's primary mission of protecting the United States, and its citizens, from threats arising from the movement of people and goods into and out of the country. With addressing these documents and their threat in mind, the CCS has sought to identify sources for fraudulent identity and immigration documents on the Internet.

Child exploitation[edit]

ICE arrests child predators in Operation iGuardian (Tampa, Florida)

The C3 CES investigates large-scale producers and distributors of images of child abuse as well as individuals who travel in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in sex with minors. The CES employs the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups and peer-to-peer trading. The CES also conducts clandestine operations throughout the world to identify and apprehend violators. The CES assists the field offices and routinely coordinates major investigations. The CES works closely with law enforcement agencies from around the world because the exploitation of children is a matter of global importance.

  • Operation Falcon: A joint international images of child abuse investigation initiated by ICE that identified 39 websites distributing child pornography. Further investigation led to the arrest of 1,200 international downloader’s and more than 300 U.S. customers. Nine individuals from the United States and Belarus were identified and charged as the principals in this investigation. All principals were convicted on various charges related to money laundering, structuring and the production and distribution of images of child abuse.
  • Operation Mango: An extensive investigation that closed down a beachside resort owned by U.S. citizens in Acapulco, Mexico, which offered children to sexual predators. The resort was a haven for pedophiles that traveled to the facility for the sole purpose of engaging in sex with minors. The proprietor of the business was convicted. As a result of this investigation and others, Mexico's federal government recently created a task force to address crimes against children in the country.
  • Operation Save Our Children[24] inadvertently shut down 84,000 legal subdomains of adult pornographic websites in an excessive seizure which led to criticism of the DOJ's ex parte warrant process and potential abuse.[25]
  • Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force: Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice Programs, ICAC Task Force comprises 45 task forces. The task forces were created in cooperation with the DOJ ICAC to provide reporting, a means to provide a virtual pointer system for Child Exploitation and images of child abuse cases and secure collaboration for various Federal, State, and Local law enforcement organizations, task forces, and affiliated groups around the world. DHS/ICE strongly supports the efforts of the ICAC task forces as demonstrated by ICE special agents being active members of the ICACs throughout the United States. The Northern Virginia/Metro DC ICAC is housed at the DHS/ICE C3.[23]
  • Operation Predator: ICE developed Operation Predator in 2003 to identify, investigate and arrest child predators and sexual offenders. Operation Predator draws on ICE's unique investigative and enforcement authorities to safeguard children. Coordinated nationally and internationally, Operation Predator brings together an array of ICE disciplines and resources to target these child sex abusers.

As part of the effort, ICE has created a National Child Victim Identification System in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Justice, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces and other agencies.

Arms trafficking[edit]

As the primary U.S. agency in export/import investigations, HSI combats illegal trafficking of firearms, ammunition and explosives that fuels violence both domestically and internationally. HSI arms trafficking investigations often focus on preventing the procurement of munitions by drug cartels, terrorists, human rights violators, foreign adversaries, and other transnational criminal organizations. HSI’s investigative strategy includes the identification and prosecution of criminal networks and individuals responsible for the acquisition and movement of firearms and other dangerous weapons from the United States, as well as the seizure and forfeiture of money and valuable property derived from or used to facilitate this criminal activity.

Case samples[edit]

  • In September 2016, ICE deported Rwanda national Leopold Munyakazi, a suspect of Rwandan genocide.[26]
  • January 31, 2018, ICE deported Amer "Al" Adi Othman of Ohio in a "highly irregular rebuke of Congressional Authority" according to Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. Othman was deported to Jordan despite having lived in the United States for nearly 40 years, married and having two children. Othman was to be Ryan's guest at the State of the Union Address on January 30, 2018, and due to his ongoing detention, his seat was left empty.[27]

Immigration law[edit]

Immigration and Nationality Act Section 287(g) allows ICE to establish increased cooperation and communication with state, and local law enforcement agencies. Section 287(g) authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), provided that the local law enforcement officers receive appropriate training and function under the supervision of sworn U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Under 287(g), ICE provides state and local law enforcement with the training and subsequent authorization to identify, process, and when appropriate, detain immigration offenders they encounter during their regular, daily law-enforcement activity.[28]

The 287(g) program is extremely controversial; it has been widely criticized for increasing racial profiling by police and undermining community safety because unlawful immigrant communities are no longer willing to report crimes or talk to law enforcement.[29]

The 287(g) program is one of several ICE ACCESS (ICE "Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security") programs that increase collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement agents.[30]

Additionally, an immigration detainer (Form I-247) is a notice that DHS issues to a federal, state and local law enforcement agency (LEA) to inform them that ICE intends to assume custody of an individual and to request that the LEA notify ICE prior to the time when the individual would otherwise be released. The new detainer form includes:

  • A request that the LEA provide the detainee with notice that ICE intends to assume custody;
  • Emphasis that LEAs may only hold an individual for a period not to exceed 48 hours and a notice advising individuals that if ICE does not take them into custody within the 48 hours, they should contact the LEA to inquire about their release;
  • Directions for individuals who may have a civil rights or civil liberties complaint regarding ICE activities; and
  • Emphasis that the existence of a detainer should not impact or prejudice the individual's conditions of detention.

The new form also allows ICE to make the detainer operative only upon the individual's conviction of the offense for which he or she was arrested.[31]

ICE has played a key role in investigating and arresting citizens suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography.[32] Because the vast majority of child pornography is produced outside the United States, HSI special agents utilize their authority to investigate persons and groups that traffic in this type of contraband, the importation of which via traditional mail or internet channels constitute violations of customs laws.[citation needed]

Detention centers[edit]

ICE operates detention centers throughout the United States that detain illegal aliens who are apprehended and placed into removal proceedings. About 34,000 people are held in immigration detention on any given day,[33] in over 200 detention centers, jails, and prisons nationwide.[34] Due to the United States detention bed quota, mandated by congress, that number will increase rather than decrease. The quota mandates at least 34,000 beds available for immigrants on any given day. [35][36]

In 2006, the T. Don Hutto Residential Center opened specifically to house non-criminal families. Other significant facilities are located in Lumpkin, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Elizabeth, New Jersey; Oakdale, Louisiana; Florence, Arizona; Miami, Florida; Seattle; York, Pennsylvania; Batavia, New York; Aurora, Colorado; Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and all along the Texas–Mexico border.

List of detention centers[37]
Alabama Etowah County Detention Center
Arizona Central Arizona Detention Center

Eloy Detention Center
Florence Correctional Center
Florence Service Processing Center
Pinal County Jail

California Adelanto Detention Center

Lerdo Detention Center
Mira Loma Detention Center
Otay Mesa Detention Center
Sacramento County Jail
Santa Ana City Jail
West County Detention Center
Yuba County Jail

Florida Baker County Detention Facility

Broward Transitional Center
Glades County Detention Center
Krome Detention Center
Wakulla County Jail

Georgia Atlanta City Detention Center

Irwin County Detention Center
North Georgia Detention Center
Stewart Detention Center

Illinois Jefferson County Justice Center

McHenry County Jail
Tri-County Detention Center

Iowa Hardin County Jail
Kentucky Boone County Jail
Louisiana LaSalle Detention Center

Oakdale Detention Center
South Louisiana Detention Center

Maryland Worcester County Jail
Massachusetts Bristol County Jail

Plymouth County Correctional Facility
Suffolk County Jail

Michigan Calhoun County Jail

Monroe County Jail

Minnesota Freeborn County Jail

Ramsey County Jail
Sherburne County Jail

New Mexico Albuquerque Immigration Office

Otero County Processing Center

Texas Dallas Immigration Detention Center

T. Don Hutto Residential Center
El Paso Processing Center
Houston Immigration Detention Center
Johnson County Detention Center
Laredo Detention Center
Polk County Detention Center
Port Isabel Detention Center
Rolling Plains Detention Center
South Texas ICE Processing Center
West Texas Detention Facility

Washington Tacoma Northwest Detention Center

Deaths in detention[edit]

ICE has counted 107 deaths in detention from October 2003 to 2007. The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union recently obtained documents detailing the circumstances of these deaths, under the Freedom of Information Act. "The documents show how officials—some still in key positions—used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse," The New York Times reported.[38] The deaths in detention included the following cases:

  • Boubacar Bah, a 52-year-old tailor from Guinea, was left in an isolation cell for more than 13 hours after falling and suffering a head fracture before an ambulance was called. His family was not notified for five days of his injury.[39] A video shows Bah in the medical unit, before medical personnel sent him to the isolation cell. In the tape, his hands are handcuffed behind his back, he is face down, and he calls out repeatedly in his native language, Fulani: "Help, they are killing me!" Telephone and email records show that ten agency managers based in Newark and Washington discussed how to avoid the cost of his care and unwanted media attention. They considered sending Bah back to Guinea and reviewing his canceled work permit to see if it would be possible to get Medicaid or disability benefits. Eventually, they decided to release him to cousins in New York who objected that they had no way to care for Bah; however, days before this release was planned, Bah died.[38]
  • Nery Romero was a 22-year-old Salvadoran immigrant with no previous history of mental illness who committed suicide in his cell in the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey. At the time of his detention, he was recovering from surgery in which metal pins had been placed in his leg, seriously broken in a motorcycle accident, and was taking strong prescription painkillers. According to Romero's cellmates and family, authorities failed to provide Romero with painkillers despite his repeated requests.[38] In a letter written to his mother shortly before his death, Romero stated: "I'm in hell. They don't give me nothing for my pain."[40]
  • Sandra Kenley of Barbados, who did not receive treatment for a uterine fibroid tumor, died at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia in December 2006. An autopsy determined the cause of her death was acute coronary insufficiency due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease.[41][40]
  • Abdoulai Sali died of an untreated kidney ailment in the Piedmont Regional Jail in Virginia.[40]
  • Young Sook Kim died at the New Mexico Regional Jail in Albuquerque of pancreatic cancer in September 2006. She had asked for weeks to receive medical care, and died the day after she was taken to a hospital.[42]

Corporate contracts[edit]

Engineering and construction firm Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) released a press statement on January 24, 2006, that the company had been awarded a no-bid contingency contract from the Department of Homeland Security to support its ICE facilities in the event of an emergency. The maximum total value of the contract is $385 million and consists of a one-year base period with four one-year options. KBR held the previous ICE contract from 2000 through 2005. The contract provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to expand existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs. The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, the company said.

ICE Air[edit]

ICE Air is the aviation division of ICE that charters aircraft or books commercial flights to send deportees back to their home countries.[43] There are 10 aircraft used to send deportees and has a working list of 185 countries.[43]

Deportees have legs and arms secured while boarding, handcuffs removed during flight and all shackles removed upon disembarking.


Sexual abuse[edit]

The Intercept published a report by the DHS Office of Inspector General revealing that 1,224 sexual abuse complaints while in immigration custody were filed between January 2010 and June 2017. Contrary to ICE's claims, only 3% of these complaints were investigated.[44]

Record number of deportations[edit]

Between 2009 and 2016, President Obama deported a record 2.4 million immigrants, earning him the nickname "Deporter-In-Chief" by Janet Murguía, the president of National Council of La Raza.[45][46] According to ICE data, about 40% of those deported by ICE in 2015 had no criminal conviction, while majority of those convicted were guilty of minor charges.[47]

Separation of migrant children from their families[edit]

A crowd of protesters hold a sign saying "Immigrants Stay Trump Pence Must Go"
A protest against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Philadelphia, June 2018.

As part of the 2018 Trump administration's zero tolerance policy, nearly 3,000[48] minors were separated from their parents while trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border and placed in detention centers.[49][50] Rolling Stone likened these centers to "prisons" while The Houston Chronicle reported that a movement swelled online to call them "concentration camps."[51][52] Similarly, former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush compared the images of the centers to U.S. Japanese internment camps during the Second World War.[53] 16 out of 34[54] of the centers located in Texas had previously been cited by Texas officials for more than 150 health violations.[55][relevant? ] The former head of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Sandweg, was critical of child separation, telling NBC News, “You could easily end up in a situation where the gap between a parent’s deportation and a child’s deportation is years,” and that many children might never see their parents again.[56]

See also[edit]

International agencies comparable to ICE[edit]


  1. ^ "Strengthening Border Security: An American Budget" (PDF). The White House. Retrieved 12 May 2018. 
  2. ^ "What Is ICE and Why Do Critics Want to Abolish It?". Retrieved July 5, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Calls to Abolish ICE Not 'Open Borders' - FactCheck.org". July 3, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018. 
  4. ^ Folley, Aris (June 29, 2018). "ICE chief to protesters: We're not the ones separating families". Retrieved July 5, 2018. 
  5. ^ Talev, Margaret (June 30, 2018). "Vitiello Tapped as Acting ICE Director". Bloomberg. He’s being named the deputy director of ICE and will also will serve as its acting director, Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement on Saturday. 
  6. ^ Goo, Sara Kehaulani; Goo, Sara Kehaulani (June 19, 2003). "Air Marshals Seek a Flight Out of TSA to New Agency" – via washingtonpost.com. 
  7. ^ ""The Federal Air Marshal Service will be moved from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau to the Transportation Security Administration"". 
  8. ^ "Who We Are | ICE". Ice.gov. 2016-03-25. Retrieved 2017-06-14. 
  9. ^ "ICE Leadership". Ice.gov. January 1, 1970. Retrieved September 27, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Leadership: Assistant Secretary John T. Morton". U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. May 21, 2009. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Leadership". U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. June 21, 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  12. ^ "John T. Morton is appointed assistant secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement". U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Retrieved June 25, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b James, Nathan (3 September 2015). Federal Tactical Teams (Report). Congressional Research Service. CRS Report for Congress, R44179. 
  14. ^ "Special response teams prep for high risk situations at Ft. Benning". U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Press release). 30 November 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  15. ^ "ICE Office of Detention and Removal (ERO) ICE Detention and Deportation Officer Conrad Agagan". Ice.gov. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2010. {
  16. ^ "2000 Archived Press Releases". Customs and Border Protection. March 16, 2001. Archived from the original on December 23, 2004. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Management Mess – Features – Magazine". GovExec.com. March 1, 2006. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  18. ^ "CBP Today – October/November 2004 – Welcome Air and Marine Operations". Customs and Border Protection. October 31, 2004. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Wasted Year". GovExec.com. March 2006. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  20. ^ a b Dickerson, Caitlin (14 April 2017). "Trump Plan Would Curtail Protections for Detained Immigrants". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  21. ^ a b Office of Investigations-National Security Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Office of Investigations-Operation Community Shield Archived May 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ a b c d ICE Office of Investigations-Investigative Services Division – Cyber Branch Archived August 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ "DHS.gov". DHS.gov. February 15, 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Torrentfreak.com". Torrentfreak.com. Retrieved December 22, 2011. 
  26. ^ US deports Rwanda genocide suspect Leopold Munyakazi.
  27. ^ "Youngstown businessman Amer Othman Adi deported to Jordan". Retrieved July 5, 2018. 
  28. ^ Budzinski, Joe (September 30, 2006). "287g training from ICE sought by many U.S. jurisdictions – novatownhall blog". Novatownhall.com. Retrieved September 27, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Advocates Condemn Obama Administration's Expansion of DHS's Failed 287(g) Program – Center for Media Justice". pitchengine.com. July 17, 2009. Retrieved September 27, 2010. 
  30. ^ "Office of State and Local Coordination: ICE ACCESS". Ice.gov. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2010. 
  31. ^ Fowler White Boggs P.A. (February 14, 2012). "New ICE Measures to Protect Aliens Detained by Local Law Enforcement". The National Law Review. Retrieved September 27, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Teacher faces charges of pornography". MassLive.com. November 29, 2006. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2010. 
  33. ^ Bernstein, Nina. "In-Custody Deaths". New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2010. 
  34. ^ Anil Kalhan (2010). "Rethinking Immigration Detention". Columbia Law Review Sidebar. 110: 42–58. SSRN 1556867Freely accessible. 
  35. ^ "Detention Bed Quota". National Immigrant Justice Center. Retrieved July 5, 2018. 
  36. ^ "Little-Known Immigration Mandate Keeps Detention Beds Full". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-06-11. 
  37. ^ "Immigration Detention Justice Center". Retrieved Dec 26, 2013. 
  38. ^ a b c Nina Bernstein (January 10, 2010). "Officials Hid Truth About Immigrant Deaths in Jail". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  39. ^ Nina Bernstein (May 5, 2008). "Few Details on Immigrants Who Died in Custody". New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  40. ^ a b c "Documents: Deaths in Immigration Detention". The New York Times. January 10, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  41. ^ Bryant, Janie. "Sister files suit over care of detainee who died in jail". Retrieved July 5, 2018. 
  42. ^ Nina Bernstein (June 26, 2007). "Deaths of immigrants in U.S. held for deportation spark scrutiny". New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  43. ^ a b "A rare look inside a deportation flight – CNN Video". 
  44. ^ "Immigration detention and sexual abuse". Retrieved 2018-06-15. 
  45. ^ "Low-Priority Immigrants Still Swept Up in Net of Deportation". The New York Times. June 25, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2018. 
  46. ^ "National Council Of La Raza Dubs Obama 'Deporter-In-Chief'". NPR. March 4, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2018. 
  47. ^ Young, Elliott (February 27, 2017). "The Hard Truths About Obama's Deportation Priorities". HuffPost. Retrieved June 15, 2018. 
  48. ^ "The Trump administration just admitted it doesn't know how many kids are still separated from their parents". Vox. Retrieved 2018-07-06. 
  49. ^ Touchberry, Ramsey (June 15, 2018). "Almost 45 children a day are being taken from their families and placed in immigrant detention centers: Report". Newsweek. 
  50. ^ Kendzior, Sarah (17 June 2018). "The unspeakable cruelty of Trump's child-migrant camps". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 19 June 2018. 
  51. ^ Bort, Ryan (14 June 2018). "This Is the Prison-Like Border Facility Holding Migrant Children". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 June 2018. 
  52. ^ Ramirez, Fernando (June 15, 2018). "Movement to call migrant detention centers 'concentration camps' swells online". The Houston Chronicle. 
  53. ^ Bush, Laura (2018-06-17). "Opinion Laura Bush: Separating children from their parents at the border 'breaks my heart'". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-06-19. 
  54. ^ "Shelters for immigrant children near capacity in Texas". KHOU. Retrieved 2018-06-19. 
  55. ^ Touchberry, Ramsey (June 12, 2018). "Texas immigrant children shelters had 150 health violations in the past year". Newsweek. 
  56. ^ Joseph, Rebecca (June 19, 2018). "Separations of children, parents at U.S. border could be permanent: Former immigration director". GlobalNews. 

External links[edit]

International agencies comparable to ICE