One of the Department of Homeland Security’s most important operations, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is the second largest law enforcement organization in the US, topped only by the FBI. ICE enforces both immigration and customs laws, which involves going after illegal immigrants in US territory, employers who hire illegal immigrants and those trying to smuggle goods or contraband into the country. In the short time it has existed, ICE has been the subject of numerous controversies over its handling of illegal immigrants.
Immigration first became a political issue in the late 19th Century as waves of European and Asian immigrants flooded into the US. After the Civil War, some states started to pass their own immigration laws, which prompted the Supreme Court to rule in 1875 that immigration was the responsibility of the federal government, not the states. To solidify this duty, US officials created the Office of the Superintendent of Immigration within the Treasury Department in 1891. This office was responsible for admitting, rejecting and processing all immigrants seeking admission to the United States and for implementing national immigration policy. Legislation in March 1895 upgraded the Office of Immigration to the Bureau of Immigration and changed the agency head’s title from Superintendent to Commissioner-General of Immigration. Also during the 1890s, the legendary immigration station at Ellis Island in New York opened and became the nation’s largest and busiest immigrant-processing center well into the 20th Century.
Part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office represents the second largest law enforcement organization in the US. Only the FBI is bigger. ICE enforces both immigration and customs laws, which involves going after illegal immigrants in US territory, employers who hire illegal immigrants and those trying to smuggle goods or contraband into the country.
SRA International, a provider of technology and strategic consulting services, was awarded a
by ICE to not only provide information technology support but also help ICE with its intelligence gathering. According to SRA, the company provided ICE’s Office of Investigations with “a professional services staff augmentation team of IT professionals, investigative research assistants and intelligence officers.” The SRA investigative support team was given access to DHS and ICE computer systems to help “identify and provide critical information about individuals who pose a national security or public safety threat.”
Immigration Detainment Controversies
Enforcement of Steroids: Homelands Security’s Emerging Police State (by Joshua Holland, AlterNet)
Sworn in as the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on May 14, 2009, John T. Morton is a marked contrast to the last person to hold the post, President Bush’s appointee, Julie Myers. Myers was well-connected, but had little experience. Morton, on the other hand, is a low-key career federal prosecutor who has handled immigration crime, and has quietly worked for the past 15 years for the Department of Justice (DOJ), helping develop policies attacking human smuggling and passport and visa fraud.