|U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement|
Logo of ICE
Badge of a Homeland Security Investigations special agent
Flag of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
|Motto||"Protecting National Security and Upholding Public Safety"|
|Formed||March 1, 2003|
|Annual budget||$5.34 billion (2014)|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Federal agency||United States|
|Constituting instrument||Homeland Security Act of 2002|
|Parent agency||U.S. Department of Homeland Security|
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is an American federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for identifying, investigating, and dismantling vulnerabilities regarding the nation's border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security. 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. embassies overseas.
ICE is led by a director who is appointed at the sub-Cabinet level by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and reports directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. ICE is the second-largest criminal investigative agency in the U.S. government after the FBI.
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 to ICE, but Chertoff moved them back to the TSA in 2005.
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. 
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. The divisions of ICE provide investigation, interdiction and security services to the public and other law enforcement partners in the federal and local sectors.
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-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, 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.
Seventeen HSI field offices maintain a Special Response Team (SRT) that operates similarly to a federal SWAT element for the office's area of responsibility (AOR). SRT was founded under the U.S. Customs Service as the Warrant Entry and Tactical Team (WETT), and subsequently evolved into SRTs that 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, St. Paul, 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 certification school at Fort Benning, Georgia, where they must pass additional physical fitness, firearms, scenario-based and written assessments. 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.
ERO is responsible for enforcing the nation's immigration laws and ensuring the departure of removable aliens from the United States. ERO uses its deportation officers to identify, arrest, and remove aliens who violate U.S. immigration law. Deportation officers are responsible for the transportation and detention of aliens in ICE custody to include the removal aliens to their country of origin. Deportation officers prosecute aliens for violations of U.S. immigration and criminal law, monitor cases during deportation proceedings, supervise released aliens, and remove aliens from the United States. Deportation officers operate strategically placed Fugitive Operations Teams whose function is to locate, apprehend, and remove aliens 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 aliens 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).
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).
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 prosecution of foreign nationals for the purpose of removal (previously known as "deportation").
OPR is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct involving employees of ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 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 and CBP 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.
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 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as part of a broader departmental reorganization to align functions consistent with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "Second Stage Review" findings for:
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.
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. In April 2017, President Donald Trump decided to close the office and to stop including the standards in new jail contracts.
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.
HSI special agents and ERO deportation officers are issued the SIG Sauer P229R pistol, with an agency-modified DAK (Double Action Kellerman) trigger, chambered in the .40 S&W 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.
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 alien terrorist cells domestically and abroad.
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 aliens, including illegal aliens and legal permanent residents. Under Operation Community Shield, ICE:
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.
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.
C3 brings the full range of ICE computer and forensic assets together in a single location to combat such Internet-related crimes as:
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
ICE has played a key role in investigating and arresting citizens suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography. Because a vast majority of child pornography is produced in foreign countries, 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.
ICE operates detention centers throughout the United States that detain illegal aliens who are apprehended and placed into removal proceedings. About 31,000 aliens are held in immigration detention on any given day, in over 200 detention centers, jails, and prisons nationwide.
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 (at the Travis County Courthouse); 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.
|Alabama||Etowah County Detention Center|
|Arizona||Central Arizona Detention Center
|California||Adelanto Detention Center
|Florida||Baker County Detention Facility
Broward Transitional Center
|Georgia||Atlanta City Detention Center
Irwin County Detention Center
|Illinois||Jefferson County Justice Center
McHenry County Jail
|Iowa||Hardin County Jail|
|Kentucky||Boone County Jail|
|Louisiana||Lasalle Detention Center
Oakdale Detention Center
|Maryland||Worcester County Jail|
|Massachusetts||Bristol County Jail
Plymouth County Correctional Facility
|Michigan||Calhoun County Jail
Monroe County Jail
|Minnesota||Freeborn County Jail
Ramsey County Jail
|New Mexico||Albuquerque Immigration Office
|Texas||Dallas Immigration Detention Center
T. Don Hutto Residential Center
ICE has counted 107 deaths in detention since October 2003. 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. The deaths in detention included the following cases:
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.
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