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Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Not Proud of What They Do.

ICE’s proposed budget for 2011 is just under $6 billion, or to be exact: $5,835,187,000. Yet ICE does not like to issue press releases on the great bulk of what their budget is spent on: removing undocumented individuals irrespective of whether they be a criminal or not.

Just the other day, TRAC, a research organization, published shocking statistics derived from a recent FOIA release from the Department of Justice: from July to September of 2011   “only 7,378 individuals — just 13.8 percent of the total [of those ICE brought into removal proceedings] — were charged with having engaged in criminal activities…The number of individuals ICE sought to deport on national security or terrorism grounds — always few in number — also fell this past year. During FY 2010 a total of 42 deportation proceedings in the Immigration Courts included these grounds. This fell to only 30 during the past year.”

Even by ICE’s own dubious self-declared statistics, approximately half of 392,826 individuals removed in the 2011 fiscal year had no criminal record. So why is it that ICE, on its own website, and on the 2011 budget in brief, refuses to tell the public about such an important and substantial part of their activities (Deporting undocumented individuals with no criminal record)?

The description of ICE in its 2011 budget reads: (p. 59)

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses its unique immigration and customs authorities to prevent terrorist and criminal activity by targeting people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal organizations.

Immediately after, the deception follows when ICE’s responsibilities are defined:

ICE protects America and upholds public safety by identifying and dismantling criminal organizations that exploit our nation’s borders. ICE makes America safer by identifying, apprehending, and removing criminal and other illegal aliens from the United States. (emphasis added)

The press release section of ICE’s website reads more like a special victims bureau than an organization that focuses the majority of its resources on deporting non-criminals:

When one clicks on the “Latest 25 press releases”, dated from December 2nd to the 7th, 12 of the “news” articles are about ICE nabbing individuals for possessing child pornography, which has nothing to do with immigration or customs enforcement.

A broader search under the topic of “Enforcement of Removal” for 2011 reveals that ICE published 111 articles related to “removal” on its website. Out of those 111, 98 of the articles involved the arrest, deportation, or conviction of “criminal” aliens. That’s 88 %. However, close to 50 % of ICE’s removals in FY 2011 were individuals without criminal records. Also keep in mind that the topic of “Enforcement of Removal” is narrow and does not include how ICE likes to brag about finding child pornography.

Given TRAC’s recent report, the 50 % number is generous and cannot be corroborated due to ICE’s refusal to release information pursuant to FOIA requests.

What is clear is that ICE will never issue a press release on how it deports a man who has no criminal record, has been in the United States for 15-years, and has a several U.S. citizen children. This generalized example happens quite often: I have seen it myself. ICE agents routinely say “it is their job” to deport people, regardless of the equities an individual may have.

But in its face to the public, ICE is clever enough to minimize–even if that includes lying–what it really is:  a law enforcement agency that fruitlessly attempts to uphold the integrity of a system has never had any: U.S. Immigration Law. ICE cannot in good faith state to the public that deporting non-criminal aliens has nothing to do with the safety of the United States or that in fact deportation can often undermine the safety of U.S. communities.

At the very least, ICE and its leader (eh hem, Obama) should stop the charade: tell the public that ICE’s job is to deport people, not strengthen homeland security. Tell your own citizens that you are not sure why your government had to deport their mother, father, sister, aunt, or cousin. Be honest so we can vote accordingly.

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