Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

If you were charged with immigration or customs violations, narcotics, weapons and contraband smuggling, financial crimes, cybercrimes, human trafficking and smuggling, child exploitation, you may have been investigated by ICE.

Who Is Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Immigration and Customs enforcement (ICE) is a Federal Law Enforcement agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security whose responsibilities include investigation of immigration and customs violations, including export enforcement, human rights violations, narcotics, weapons and contraband smuggling, financial crimes, cybercrimes, human trafficking and smuggling, child exploitation, intellectual property violations, transnational gangs, and immigration benefit fraud. ICE is the principal criminal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE consists of two operational programs HSI and ERO:

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is responsible for domestic and international criminal investigations arising from the illegal movement of people and merchandise into, within, and out of the United States, often in coordination with other federal agencies.

HSI Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit

The Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit prevents terrorists and other criminals from exploiting the U.S. immigration system through fraud. It investigates non-immigrant visa holders who violate their immigration status and scrutinizes the activities of known or suspected terrorists and terrorist associations, and combats criminal exploitation of the student visa system.

HSI Cyber Crimes Unit

HSI’s Cyber Crimes Center (C3) delivers computer-based technical services to support domestic and international investigations into cross-border crime. C3’s Cyber Crimes Unit provides the management and oversight of the agency’s cyber related investigations by focusing on the transnational criminal organizations that use cyber capabilities to further their criminal enterprise. The Cyber Crimes unit provides training, investigative support and guidance to HSI field offices in emerging cyber technologies as well as subject matter expertise in cyber related investigations related to the following areas:

The Attorney General of The United States may prescribe special agents of the ATF to:

  • Identity and benefit document fraud;
  • Money laundering;
  • Financial fraud (including e-payment fraud and Internet gambling);
  • Commercial fraud;
  • Counter-proliferation investigations;
  • Narcotics trafficking; and
  • Illegal exports.

HSI Child Exploitation Investigations Unit

C3’s Child Exploitation Unit investigates sexual exploitation of children; the production, advertisement and distribution of child pornography; and child sex tourism. The unit uses sophisticated investigative techniques to target violators who operate on the Internet, including the use of websites, email, chat rooms and file-sharing applications.

Major initiatives include the following:

  • Operation Predator: HSI’s flagship investigative initiative for targeting sexual predators, child pornographers and child sex tourists.
  • The National Child Victim Identification System (NCVIS): This system was developed to assist law enforcement agencies in identifying victims of child sexual exploitation.
  • Victim Identification Program (VIP): The use of technological and investigative capabilities and resources to rescue child victims of sexual exploitation. The VIP focuses on identifying and rescuing children who have been depicted in child abuse material.

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) enforces the nation’s immigration laws. It identifies and apprehends removable aliens, detains these individuals when necessary and removes illegal aliens from the United States. ERO prioritizes the apprehension, arrest and removal of convicted criminals, those who pose a threat to national security, fugitives and recent border entrants. ERO transports removable aliens from point to point, manages aliens in custody or in an alternative to detention program, provides access to legal resources and representatives of advocacy groups and removes individuals from the United States who have been ordered to be deported.

ERO Detention Management Division

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) manages and oversees the nation’s civil immigration detention system. ICE detainees placed in ERO custody represent virtually every country in the world, various security classifications, both genders and medical conditions ranging from healthy to terminally ill. The Detention Management Division currently houses detainees in more than 250 local and state facilities. Nearly 67 percent of the ICE detained population are housed in local or state facilities, 17 percent are housed in contract detention facilities, 13 percent are housed in ICE-owned facilities (service processing centers), and 3 percent are housed in Bureau of Prisons facilities.

ICE Powers of Enforcement

Pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1357 The Attorney General of the U.S. may prescribe special agents and officers of Immigration and Customs Enforcment to:

  • Arrest aliens who in his presence or view is entering or attempting to enter the U.S.
  • Arrest aliens without a warrant whom they have reason to believe is illegally the U.S.
  • Interrogate those believed to be aliens as to their right to be or to remain in the U.S
  • Board and search for aliens on any vessel, railway car, aircraft, or vehicle in the U.S.
  • Make arrests for any felony offense against the U.S. committed in their presence
  • Execute warrants, subpoena, summons, issued under the authority of the U.S.
  • Carry firearms for the purpose of performing the duties

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)

ERO identifies and apprehends convicted criminals and other individuals deemed removable, detains or places these individuals in alternatives to detention programs, and removes individuals determined to be illegally present (or otherwise subject to removal) from the United States.

investigates a wide range of domestic and international activities arising from the illegal movement of people and goods into, within and out of the United States. HSI investigates immigration crime, human rights violations and human smuggling, smuggling of narcotics, weapons and other types of contraband, financial crimes, cybercrime and export enforcement issues. ICE special agents conduct investigations aimed at protecting critical infrastructure industries that are vulnerable to sabotage, attack or exploitation

The Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit is part of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) National Security Investigations Division. The unit prevents terrorists and other criminals from exploiting the nation’s immigration system through fraud. It investigates non-immigrant visa holders who violate their immigration status and places a high priority on scrutinizing the activities of known or suspected terrorists and terrorist associations. It also combats criminal exploitation of the student visa system.