The “Abolish ICE” movement has gained support throughout the Democratic Party from career Senator Elizabeth Warren to newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”Abolish ICE” is a dangerous movement. It fails to take into account the role the agency plays in protecting this country. The news today depicts ICE as a villain; however, their mission is “to protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety” and this is how they do it.
They accomplish this mission using four sub-agencies. The first sub-agency is Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). There goal is to arrest illegal aliens who have come to our country. Democrats have said this agency only targets illegal immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves. However, in fiscal 2017, 92% of the illegal immigrants that were arrested had “a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, were labeled as an ICE fugitive, or were processed with a reinstated final order.” The number of ICE removals have gone down 24% from 2014-2016; however, 240,255 removals were still conducted in 2016. Over 2,000 of those illegal immigrants that were removed were either suspected or confirmed gang members. However, ICE is not only concerned about removing illegal immigrants from the country.
The second sub-agency of ICE is Homeland Security Investigations. This agency investigates gang activity, human trafficking and smuggling, and financial crimes. In fiscal 2018, ICE arrested more than 10,000 known or suspected gang members, saying there were more known or suspected MS-13 gang members arrested than in previous years. HSI also deals with human trafficking and smuggling. The agency takes a victim-centered approach to apprehend human traffickers and assist victims. This is what allowed them to arrest 1,952 individuals for human trafficking and assist over 400 victims in fiscal 2016 year. After identifying the victims, ICE works with victim service providers and community organizations. Most importantly, they help victims get the care they need such as food, water, and shelter. The third and fourth sub-agencies of ICE are the Office of the Principle Legal Advisor and Office of Professional Responsibility.
The Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit is another important function of ICE. This unit breaks down into two parts: Terrorist Tracking and Pursuit Group and SEVIS Exploitation. The Terrorist Tracking and Pursuit Group with multiple other agencies to identify individuals who overstayed their admission in the country. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Exploitation Section (SES) “identifies, disrupts and dismantles organizational and individual exploitation” of the vulnerabilities in the SEVIS database. Most importantly, they identity suspect groups and individuals to give leads to field offices. These field offices include the criminal investigation of terrorism-related activity, foreign intelligence operations, transnational organized crime or immigration fraud.”
We need to replace ICE “with something that reflects our values” said Elizabeth Warren. What values does ICE hold that run contrary to ours? Individuals who wish to do harm to American citizens are removed everyday by ICE. Immigration Forum says ICE “has many functions that are pertinent to public safety and national security” on their website. Why would the Democrats want to get rid of an agency designed to protect our country?