ICE Conducting Harsh Enforcement Operations Nationwide

By Reuben S. Seguritan

Photo from USA Today

March 22, 2017


The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased its operations across the United States. It will no longer just go after convicted criminal aliens. ICE agents are free to apprehend and detain those who may have been charged or suspected of having committed a crime and those who are out-of-status or overstaying their visas even if they do not have any criminal past.


The budget submitted by President Trump to Congress recently provides an initial $2.6 Billion for the wall, $1.5 Billion to expand detention and deportation operations and $314 Million to hire additional immigration agents.


The ICE has recently announced on its website that the National Fugitive Enforcement Operations for 2017 has resulted in more than 680 arrests of convicted criminal undocumented immigrants and other removable undocumented immigrants.


The implementing memos of the Executive Orders of President Trump have ordered the detention of any undocumented immigrant; narrowed the protections for children; and expanded the power of ICE to deputize local police officers to enforce the immigration laws.


The aggressive implementation of the Executive Orders has led to increased detention of undocumented immigrants, especially at the United States borders. This will include those seeking asylum and refugee status in the United States. Undocumented immigrants are also being deported at a higher rate than in the previous administrations because of the “expedited removal.” Expedited removal means the government can bypass the immigration courts and deport the undocumented immigrant with little due process.


Another effect of the Executive Orders is the end of protections to undocumented children. This is because of the narrowing of the definition of “unaccompanied alien child.” The United States will now file civil or criminal charges against parents if their child tries to enter the United States. This also means that these unaccompanied minors who are undocumented immigrants will have to defend themselves alone in court upon their apprehension at the United States borders.


The memos also expand the power of ICE to deputize local police officers to enforce the immigration laws. Local police are now required to collaborate with ICE agents to enforce immigration laws.


The reactions to the memos have been mostly negative. In Los Angeles, ICE agents were reminded by the public elected officials that they are not police officers and cannot call themselves police officers. Doing so is misleading and endangers public safety. The people in the community, especially the immigrants will not trust police officers anymore and will make witnesses and victims less likely to come forward when crimes are committed.


Observers also note that there is an uneven enforcement by the ICE agents from community to community as to who and when they will conduct the immigration raids. The cities that strive to protect immigrants such as Los Angeles and New York City have been the targets of massive immigration raids. ICE agents have also been seen as arrogant when they do their job. The parents are dragged away in front of their small children which could lead to trauma on the children.