Immigration and Customs Enforcement, more commonly known by its concise acronym of ICE, is the enforcement arm of the federal government’s immigration laws. ICE has been making headlines recently as immigrant rights advocates accuse the agency of acting “out of control” when executing its enforcement duties.
Critics of the agency state that ICE officers are aggressively pursuing deportation cases, many of which are against foreign nationals who are nonviolent offenders, even though President Obama has repeatedly promised that his administration will soon be implementing policies that will protect many of these foreign nationals from deportation.
Recently, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued a report that outlined the results of more than 30 interviews the organization conducted with undocumented foreign nationals, immigration advocates, and experts in this legal field. The report claims that ICE has worked with “rogue” police officers, has retaliated against foreign nationals who participate at immigration-related protests and functions, and has conducted its own unauthorized raids in order to apprehend foreign nationals who aren’t even on the government’s watch list.
The report also postulates that because the President recently announced he would refrain from taking action on immigration issues until after the congressional elections in November, ICE is taking steps now to deport as many foreign nationals as possible before the elections.
Deportation Statistics Under President Obama
Since the President took office, more than two million foreign nationals have been deported from the U.S. pursuant to ICE and other agencies’ efforts. In 2013 alone, immigration enforcement officers processed 438,421 deportation cases. According to figures released by the government, approximately 45% of these foreign nationals who were deported in 2013 had criminal convictions.
However, immigration advocates who are critical of the President’s recent action (or inaction) on immigration argue that many of those deported foreign nationals with criminal records are not violent offenders or habitual offenders, and that many of the crimes involved were minor offenses.
State Responses to ICE Actions
State and local governments across the nation have started to limit their police departments’ cooperation with ICE enforcement efforts. Representatives from these departments state that ICE programs, including the Secure Communities initiative, can increase the public’s distrust of police action.
ICE Defends its Actions
The agency’s spokeswoman, Gillian Christensen, stated that the agency has not yet reviewed the National Day Laborer Organizing Network report but went on to defend the agency’s practices anyway. She asserts that the agency continues to prioritize the deportation cases of criminal offenders over those cases for foreign nationals who do not have a criminal record. She also confirmed that the agency is placing more field operatives in those states and localities where the police departments are no longer cooperating with ICE agents.
The charges of overreaching or acting “out of control” that are levied against ICE are serious indeed and if true, pose a significant threat to foreign nationals who are eagerly awaiting immigration relief and reform from Congress or the President. Continue to check with our blog for the most up to date immigration news.
Additional Blog Posts
What Employers Should Know About Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, ImmigRantings, November 28, 2012
New Jersey is the Newest State to Offer In-State Tuition to Undocumented Students, ImmigRantings, January 23, 2014