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Published:November 1st, 2006 04:55 EST
Fact Sheet: ICE Accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2006

Fact Sheet: ICE Accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2006

By SOP newswire

Under the leadership of Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) achieved historic results in FY 2006. ICE set new records for enforcement activity, ended the long-standing practice of “catch-and-release” along the nation’s borders, launched major new initiatives, transformed its detention and removal process, and improved its intelligence functions. Some of these milestones include:

  • Set New Records for Worksite Enforcement: Total arrests made in ICE worksite enforcement cases during FY 2006 reached a level that was more than seven times greater than in 2002, the last full year of operations for U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
  • Ended “Catch-and-Release” Along the Borders: The practice of “catch and release” for non-Mexican aliens existed for years and was one of the greatest impediments to border control. In 2006, the Department of Homeland Security and ICE re-engineered the detention and removal process to end this practice along the border, an accomplishment considered impossible in 2005 when only 34 percent of non-Mexican aliens apprehended along the border were being detained.
  • Set New Record for Alien Removals: ICE removed more than 186,600 illegal aliens from the country in FY 2006, a record for the agency and a ten percent increase over the number of removals during the prior fiscal year. ICE also increased its detention bed space by 6,300 during the fiscal year 2006, bringing the current number of funded beds to 27,500 immigration detainees.
  • Nearly Tripled the Number of Fugitive Operations Teams: During FY 2006, ICE nearly tripled the number of fugitive operations teams deployed nationwide from 18 to 50. These additional teams maximized the efficiency of ICE immigration enforcement efforts to locate, apprehend and remove primarily criminal aliens.
  • Created a National Center to Coordinate Deportation of Aliens Upon Release from Prison: ICE created a national center that reviews aliens at all 119 federal detention facilities (as opposed to only 30 federal facilities in 2005), to ensure that criminal aliens are deported rather than released into society upon the completion of their sentences.
  • Increased Arms and Strategic Technology Investigations: ICE set a record in 2006 for arms and strategic technology investigations by providing additional training in this area, and doubling the number of personnel assigned to these investigations. Indictments in these cases increased by 81 percent over the prior year, while arrests rose 36 percent and convictions rose 13 percent.
  • Dismantled one of the World’s Most Powerful Drug Cartels: ICE concluded a 15-year probe into Colombia’s Cali drug cartel, once responsible for 80 percent of the world’s cocaine supply, with the cartel leaders being sentenced to 30-year prison terms and agreeing to a $2 billion forfeiture. Roughly141 cartel members have been arrested, indicted, or convicted in this case.
  • Increased Use of Financial Authorities in Immigration Investigations: ICE continued to apply its financial investigative authorities to human smuggling cases and other immigration-related cases. As a result, the amount of assets seized in these cases has risen from almost nothing before ICE was created, to some $20 million in FY 2004, to nearly $42 million in FY 2006.
  • Targeted Transnational Gangs: Through Operation Community Shield, ICE arrested some 2,290 gang members nationwide in FY 2006, and a total of 3,700 total since February 2005.

ICE Accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2006

Re-Inventing Immigration Enforcement

Enhancing Worksite Enforcement Efforts.

  • ICE arrested 716 individuals on criminal charges (against both employers and employees) and 3,667 individuals on administrative charges in worksite enforcement investigations.
  • Combined, these figures are more than seven times greater than the total number of individuals arrested in worksite enforcement cases by the INS in 2002, its last full year of operation.

Applying Financial Investigative Tools to Immigration Investigations

  • Traditional immigration cases, like investigations of human smuggling organizations, were advanced through the use of traditional customs investigative techniques like targeting the financial proceeds of these criminal organizations.
  • As a result, the total amount of assets seized through immigration-related cases has increased from virtually nothing before ICE was created in March 2003, to approximately $20 million in FY04 to almost $42 million in FY06.

Addressing Vulnerabilities in Immigration System.

  • ICE partnered with the Department of Justice and other federal agencies in April 2006 to launch ten Document and Benefit Fraud Task Forces in major U.S. cities to combat the growing problems of document fraud and immigration benefits fraud in a systemic manner.
  • To date, these task forces have launched 235 investigations resulting in 189 arrests and 80 convictions.

Expanding the National Fugitive Operations Program.

  • ICE nearly tripled the number of fugitive operations teams deployed nationwide from 18 to 50.
  • By the end of FY 2007, ICE intends to have roughly 75 teams deployed nationwide.
  • Through “Operation Return to Sender”, ICE arrested, closed the cases of, or otherwise removed 14,356 aliens from the fugitive/illegal population between May 26 and September 30, 2006. To date, 4,716 of the 14,356 aliens have been removed from the United States.

Expanding Partnerships with State and Local Authorities.

  • Since January, ICE has trained an additional 40 state and county law enforcement officers as part of the 287(g) program to provide targeted immigration enforcement by state and local authorities. ICE is currently negotiating agreements with additional state and local governments, and has created a new website to provide additional information about the program.

Using Technology to Enhance Data Entry of Immigration Violators and Fugitives.

  • Since the implementation of new electronic data entry procedures in January 2006, the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) has entered a total of 64,706 new entries into the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC). By comparison, in FY 2005, the LESC entered just 14,004 entries into NCIC. The LESC completed more than 232,434 NCIC validations in FY 2006, compared to just 73,015 NCIC validations the prior fiscal year.

Transforming Detention and Removal

Ending “Catch-and-Release” Along the Borders.

  • ICE, in partnership with other DHS entities, is now detaining all illegal aliens apprehended along the borders for removal, effectively signaling the end of “catch-and-release.”
  • As a result of the expanded use of Expedited Removal (ER) authority, the average length of stay in ICE custody for aliens placed in ER proceedings is roughly 19 days today, down from the average of 90 days for aliens placed in traditional removal proceedings before the Secure Border Initiative was launched.
  • Roughly 186,600 aliens were removed from the United States last fiscal year, a record for ICE and a ten percent increase over FY 2005. ICE removed 50,222 aliens from the United States via Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS) flights to foreign countries.
  • Through expanded use of video teleconferencing technology at foreign consulates, the average length of stay in the United States for Honduran nationals is now just 15 days under the SBI, compared to 24 days in September 2005.
  • In May, ICE opened a new 500-bed facility in Williamson County, Texas that is specially equipped to meet family needs. In August 2006, only 28 family units were released, compared with 820 in the month before the facility opened, a 97 percent decline in family releases on the southern border.

Maximizing Bed Capacity.

  • In July 2006, ICE established the Detention Operations Coordination Center (DOCC), which allows ICE to maximize its detention capacity by monitoring detained dockets across the county in order to shift cases from field offices with limited detention space to those with available detention space.
  • The average daily population of immigrant detainees in ICE custody has risen from 19,000 to 26,000 since July, and ICE has increased detention capacity in the Southwest border area by deploying 6,300 new beds in 2006.

Transforming the Criminal Alien Program (CAP).

  • In June 2006, ICE launched a central interview and processing site for criminal aliens within the federal Bureau of Prisons called the Detention Enforcement and Processing Offenders by Remote Technology (DEPORT). Since June, DEPORT has processed more than 4,337 inmates in federal prisons eligible for removal and who previously may have slipped through the immigration process. Through DEPORT, ICE ensures that all criminal aliens in federal prison custody are processed for removal.

Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Analysis

Expanding Number of Actionable Leads.

  • ICE’s Office of Intelligence, Field Intelligence Units disseminated more than 5,044 intelligence leads to field investigators for action.

Improving Intelligence Lead Tracking.

  • ICEOffice of Intelligence leads, tracked in a new and enhanced system, have led to the initiation of 288 formal investigative cases from May through September 2006.

Creating National Security Integration Center.

  • In April 2006, ICE created the National Security Integration Center (NSIC), which partners investigators and intelligence analysts to “operationalize” intelligence reporting.

Protecting National Security and Public Safety

Targeting National Security Threats.

  • ICE is currently the second largest federal contributor of personnel to the nation’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF), second only to the FBI. ICE personnel are also assigned to Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center, a 24/7 operational center that brings together personnel from numerous government agencies to detect and respond to persons arriving at U.S. ports of entry who are matches or potential matches on national terrorist watch lists.

Increasing Arms and Strategic Technology Investigations (ASTI).

  • ICE commissioned a threat assessment by more than 80 field offices to determine the nation’s most critical illegal arms and technology export threats and doubled the number of personnel assigned to ASTI investigations from approximately 150 to 300. As a result, ICE realized significant statistical increases in the number of ASTI arrests, indictments, and convictions during FY 2006. Indictments in these cases increased by 81 percent over the prior year, while arrests rose 36 percent and convictions rose 13 percent.

Detecting, Tracking and Arresting Visa Violators.

  • ICE referred more than 6,000 compliance enforcement investigations to ICE field offices, resulting in more than 1,700 arrests, including 326 that resulted from Operation Summer Break, a specific initiative that targeted student visa violators. By the end of the fiscal year, ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program included approximately 10,149 schools and exchange visitor program sponsors, a 28 percent increase over FY 2005.

Targeting Cross-Border Violence.

  • ICE partnered with other law enforcement agencies to implement the Border Enforcement Security Task Force Concept (BEST) along the Southwest border to share intelligence, develop priority targets and execute coordinated law enforcement operations to further enhance border security.
  • To date, these task forces have made 79 arrests and seized 25,000 pounds of marijuana, nearly 400 pounds of cocaine, $6.5 million in U.S. currency, 125 weapons, and 10 explosive devices. Additional task forces are projected for the future.

Dismantling International Drug Cartels.

  • As a result of a 15-year ICE led drug smuggling investigation, the two founders of Colombia’s infamous Cali drug cartel pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking conspiracy charge involving roughly 200,000 kilograms of cocaine, agreed to plead guilty to a money laundering conspiracy charge, and consented to a final forfeiture judgment of $2.1 billion.
  • The investigation resulted in the indictment, arrest, and/or conviction of roughly 141 members of the Cali cartel, as well as the seizure of more than $350 million in properties and assets in the United States and other nations.

Targeting Transnational Gangs and Sexual Predators.

  • Operation Community Shield, ICE’s initiative to eliminate the public safety threat posed by transnational gang members, resulted in the arrest of 2,294 gang members, of whom 1,073 had convictions for violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault. Since the inception of this initiative, approximately 3,700 gang members have been arrested.
  • ICE also continued to target child sex tourists, Internet child pornographers, and criminal alien sex predators through its Operation Predator initiative, which was launched in 2003. To date, this important initiative has resulted in the arrest of more than 9,000 sexual predators throughout the country.

Attacking Human Smuggling and Trafficking Groups.

  • ICE initiated 299 human trafficking investigations that resulted in 184 arrests.
  • In June 2006, ICE and DOJ launched the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel (ECT) Strike Force designed to attack foreign-based human smuggling networks engaged in the movement of special interest aliens.

Strengthening Financial and Trade Investigations

Targeting Money Laundering and Other Financial Crimes.

  • ICE initiated more than 3,970 financial investigations that resulted in the seizure of roughly $137 million in currency and monetary instruments, as well as the arrest of 1,262 individuals, 936 indictments, and 940 convictions.
  • As part of this effort, ICE created new trade transparency units (TTUs) in partnership with Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay to combat trade-based money laundering and other financial crimes with these nations.

Implementing New Trade Enforcement Strategy.

  • ICE developed an enhanced trade enforcement strategy in August 2006 to generate high-value investigative leads and information referrals to CBP.
  • ICE initiated numerous Fraud Investigative Strike Teams (FIST) and Operation Security Bond operations targeting violations in bonded facilities and foreign trade zones, as well as the smuggling of commercial merchandise via in-bond diversion and intellectual property violations. FIST operations have been deployed in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, and Tucson (Nogales). During these operations, the teams visited 62 facilities.

Targeting Cash Couriers and Bulk Cash Smuggling.

  • Through the State Department, the Terrorist Finance Working Group (TFWG) has obtained funding for ICE to conduct this training for 28 countries in critical need of this capacity building.
  • Since February 2006, ICE has expanded its successful Operation Firewall to combat the smuggling of bulk currency derived from illegal activity in Mexico to destinations outside the United States. As of October 4, 2006, Firewall Operations had resulted in the seizure of more than $52 million in cash and negotiable instruments and the arrest of more than 130 suspects.

Protecting Federal Facilities

Investigating and Responding to Threats.

  • ICE Federal Protective Service (FPS) officers were responsible for 6,319 arrests and citations and prevented 870,769 prohibited items from entering more than 8,800 federal facilities nationwide.
  • ICE FPS also completed 2,480 building security assessments and processed 37,218 adjudications associated with security clearances.

Hurricane Katrina Response.

  • During Hurricane Katrina, ICE FPS officers logged more than 65,000 patrol hours in New Orleans, 39,000 in Baton Rouge, and 12,000 in Lafayette. ICE FPS officers and agents responded to thousands of calls for law enforcement service, making more than 120 arrests, investigating 165 threats and providing 176 law enforcement escorts to FEMA.

Enhancing Oversight and Integrity

Strengthening the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

  • In FY 2006, ICE OPR dedicated a surge team to expediting the review of existing cases of wrongdoing and corruption. Since July 2006, OPR staffing has increased by one-third and ICE has dedicated additional financial resources to the program.

Ensuring Compliance with Detention Standards.

  • To protect the well-being of its detainees at all times, ICE has begun supplementing its review of detention facilities by creating a new unit to provide oversight of these facilities within OPR. This new unit will provide enhanced oversight of DRO facilities to ensure that detention standards are met. The unit will also facilitate examinations being conducted by members of the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
  • In addition, ICE has also developed a mandatory electronic training program to ensure all DRO employees understand their obligation under the DRO standards.

Promoting Integrity Awareness.

  • In July 2006, ICE announced the Integrity Awareness Program, a mandatory training course developed by OPR to ensure that all ICE employees maintain the highest ethical standards.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was established in March 2003 as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is comprised of four integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities.

SOURCE:  US Dept. of Homeland Security