What is ICE?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 December 2019
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The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Like the DHS, ICE was formed in the wake of the 11 September, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, as part of a massive reorganization campaign which was designed to protect the country from future attacks. ICE agents have a wide variety of duties under the law, and they can be found serving in an assortment of locations around the world, as part of the “layered” approach to American security used by the Department of Homeland Security.

When ICE was formed, it incorporated the investigative branches of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), US Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protective Service. In addition to drawing from these law enforcement services, ICE also works closely with American intelligence organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and agents have far-reaching investigative abilities which have been criticized by some individuals concerned about civil liberties.

ICE often makes headlines due to its involvement in the investigation and deportation of illegal immigrants. ICE raids are common in urban areas where large illegal populations are suspected, and they have sometimes attracted negative attention due to hasty work, which sometimes results in the detainment or deportation of legal citizens or resident aliens of the United States. However, ICE isn't just about illegal immigration.


The agency also protects American borders, by seeking out and identifying weaknesses, inspecting cargoes carried across American borders, and investigating drug and human trafficking rings which cross into or out of the United States. ICE agents also attempt to identify and remove terrorist threats, dismantle gangs, investigate workers at American ports, protect federal buildings, and monitor American borders for signs that American technology and munitions are being illegally exported. ICE also protects intellectual copyrights, and maintains forensic document examination and cybercrimes centers which are used by ICE agents as well as representatives from other agencies.

ICE is headed by a sub-Secretary, who reports to the Secretary of Homeland Security. Some ICE actions have been criticized, because they appear to overstep certain bounds. In 2008, for example, ICE made headlines when it was announced that ICE officials would be able to inspect the personal computers of people traveling into the United States for signs of violation of the United States Code. Privacy advocates pointed out that such searches would be of questionable legality, and they could potentially compromise the security of sensitive data such as client information, secret projects, and other information which people and organizations would rather keep private.


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Post 3

@ Comparables- There are many different jobs within ICE since they are the law arm of the Department of Homeland Security. There are numerous investigative support positions that are needed to support the special agents in their works. There are also numerous intelligence positions that are people can be recruited for.

If you want to become a special agent, you will need to be recruited. You can call the field office nearest you and ask to be contacted to a recruiter, but your best bet is to enlist in the military or to attend college and seek a degree in an area vital to National Security. Foreign language specialists being heavily recruited along with information technology specialists and certain engineers. My sister is an Arabic language major, and she is being heavily recruited by all kinds of agencies and organizations. ICE is highly selective and competitive so good luck.

Post 2

@ Comparables- South Florida does have an ICE field office that deals with narcotics trafficking. If you are interested in becoming an ICE special agent, you should look at the questionnaire that ICE offers on their website. There are a few basic criteria that you will need to meet like being a citizen, not having a record of domestic abuse, being comfortable carrying a gun, and being able to work long hours in stressful situations. You will also need to be willing to travel extensively, and be gone from your assigned headquarters for long periods while investigating crimes.

The best thing that you can do to prepare for a career in ICE is to be good and be honest. ICE

works closely with the intelligence community so honesty and character are of the utmost importance. You should also pursue at least an undergraduate degree in a related field, be an active member of your community, a volunteer organization, or non-profit organization. Finally, any military experience you may have will also make you a well-qualified candidate for ICE.
Post 1

What are the job requirements for starting a career with ICE? I am interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement and I thought that stopping drug traffickers would be a great job. I live in Miami and I was wondering if there was an ICE field office here. I want to stay in the South Florida area and help catch the drugs as they come into this city.

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