Spotlight: ICE

Which agency is the second-largest investigative agency in the federal government? Created on March 1, 2003, through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is second only to the FBI, with more than 20,000 employees in all 50 states and 47 other countries and a current annual budget of more than $5.8 billion. ICE is the largest investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the second-largest contributor to the nation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (again, after the FBI). The agency is one of three components within DHS that deal with immigration, customs, and border enforcement; the other two are U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

ICE’s primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety by enforcing more than 400 federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration. Its headquarters are located at 500 12th Street, S.W., in Washington, D.C. The agency has two principal operating components, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). HSI (formerly known as the ICE Office of Investigations) has 7,000 criminal investigators who target transnational criminal enterprises and enforce customs and immigrations laws at and beyond U.S. borders. It operates 26 special agent in charge (SAC) principal field offices located throughout the country. ERO (formerly known as the Office of Detention and Removal Operations) employs immigration enforcement officers and deportation officers to identify, arrest and remove aliens who violate U.S. immigration laws. It operates 24 field offices and also manages seven service processing centers (in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; Buffalo, N.Y.; El Centro, Calif.; El Paso and Los Fresnos, Texas; Florence, Ariz.; and Miami) owned by ICE and operated by the private sector, oversees another seven dedicated contract detention facilities (in Aurora, Colo.; Elizabeth, N.J.; Houston; Pearsall, Texas; Pompano Beach, Fla.; San Diego; and Tacoma, Wash.) owned and operated by the private sector and houses additional detainees at several hundred shared-use facilities (primarily county jails) under intergovernmental service agreements.

President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request for ICE is $5.3 billion, 4% below the FY 2012 enacted budget.  That budget request includes $6.2 million to fund the fourth year of an ICE-wide co-location strategy, which aims to consolidated ICE personnel and operations to improve operational efficiency while achieving long-term cost savings.  Although this ultimately will be a nationwide effort, ICE has chosen to take a city-by-city approach and aims to direct the FY 2013 requested funds toward consolidating ICE’s leased footprint in the Phoenix, Ariz., area.

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