What is ICE?

You may not have heard much about the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but I’m sure you’ve heard about ICE. You’ll probably be surprised to know that they’re the same thing; and in recent years, you’ve probably heard the term “ICE” more and more. We’ll be taking an in-depth look at what ICE is and what they do, providing you with all the information you need to be an expert on the not-so-well-known agency.

What is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

According to the ICE website, this agency “enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety.” There are currently more than 400 ICE offices throughout the country and 46 offices abroad. They employ more than 20,000 employees and have an astounding annual budget of about $6 billion. This money is devoted to ICE’s two main components: Homeland Security Investigations and Enforcement and Removal Operations.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was founded in 2003 as the “love-child” of the former U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. ICE answers to the Department of Homeland Security and is headquartered in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. For being one of the youngest agencies in the country, ICE has quickly become the second-largest criminal investigative agency in the country (falling just behind the FBI).

What Does the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency Do?

Explaining what exactly ICE does could get a little more difficult, as their duties and responsibilities are many. Their main mission is to “protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety”, according to ICE’s official website. The agency’s main focus is on preventing terrorism, combating the illegal movement of people and goods, and on smart immigration enforcement practices.

  • Immigration Enforcement: This area is the largest section of responsibility for the agency. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency works with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other agencies to protect the borders. While some of ICE is at the borders, most of their immigration enforcement work happens in the country’s interior. They enforce immigration laws by cracking down on employers hiring illegal employees, those with fraudulent documents, and illegal aliens who are criminals. ICE is responsible for finding these people, and removing them.
  • Investigating Illegal Movement of People and Goods: ICE is responsible for enforcing the over 400 federal statutes regarding the movement of people and goods. They focus on people who are being smuggled and/or trafficked, children who are sexually exploited, the illegal trade of guns, money, and drugs, and the movement of any illegal merchandise.
  • Preventing Terrorism: Although there are many other federal agencies that focus on terrorism, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement works by identifying dangerous people before they even cross the border or finding them inside the country. ICE even prevents terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military weapons and sensitive technology, including weapons of mass destruction components.

Related Resource: What is a Criminal Researcher?

As the second largest federal agency in the country, it’s important to understand ICE, its many components and what they do. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency works hard to protect Americans from everything entering and leaving the country, fighting from the interior for our freedom.