U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
ICE was created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the former U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. ICE now has more than 20,000 law enforcement and support personnel in more than 400 offices in the United States and around the world.
The agency has an annual budget of approximately $8 billion, primarily devoted to three operational directorates — Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA). A fourth directorate – Management and Administration (M&A) – supports the three operational branches to advance the ICE mission.
Enforcement and Removal Operations
The ERO directorate upholds U.S. immigration law at, within, and beyond our borders. ERO's work is critical to the enforcement of immigration law against those who present a danger to our national security, are a threat to public safety, or who otherwise undermine the integrity of our immigration system.
ERO operations target public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have otherwise violated our nation's immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges. ERO deportation officers assigned to INTERPOL also assist in targeting and apprehending foreign fugitives or Fugitive Alien Removal (FAR) cases who are wanted for crimes committed abroad and who are now at-large in the U.S.
ERO manages all aspects of the immigration enforcement process, including identification and arrest, domestic transportation, detention, bond management, and supervised release, including alternatives to detention. In addition, ERO removes aliens ordered removed from the U.S. to more than 170 countries around the world.
Homeland Security Investigations
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is the principal investigative component of DHS and is responsible for investigating, disrupting, and dismantling transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and terrorist networks that threaten or seek to exploit the customs and immigration laws of the United States. Its workforce consists of more than 10,400 employees, including special agents, criminal analysts, mission support personnel and contract staff assigned to more than 250 offices across the United States and more than 80 offices around the world.
HSI has broad legal authority to conduct federal criminal investigations into the illegal cross-border movement of people, goods, money, technology and other contraband throughout the United States. HSI utilizes these authorities to investigate a wide array of transnational crime, including: terrorism; national security threats; narcotics smuggling; transnational gang activity; child exploitation; human smuggling and trafficking; illegal exports of controlled technology and weapons; money laundering; financial fraud and scams; worksite and employment crimes; cybercrime; intellectual property theft and trade fraud; identity and benefit fraud; human rights violations and war crimes.
In collaboration with its strategic partners in the U.S. and abroad, HSI special agents gather evidence to identify and build criminal cases against TCOs, terrorist networks and facilitators, and other criminal elements that threaten the United States. HSI works with prosecutors to indict and arrest violators, execute criminal search warrants, seize criminally derived money and assets, and take other actions designed to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations operating around the world. These efforts protect U.S. national, border, and economic security, and ensure the safety of the public and our communities.
Management and Administration
The M&A directorate makes important contributions to the ICE mission by providing the vital infrastructure necessary for successful ICE operations. M&A identifies and tracks the agency's performance measurements and leads a dynamic human capital program that includes aggressive recruitment endeavors and commitment to equal employment opportunity. It coordinates ICE's administrative and managerial functions to address the needs of the ICE mission, while helping to guide the dynamic growth and future of the agency.
M&A directs and maintains ICE's budget, expenditures, accounting and finance, procurement, facilities, property, and policy and privacy programs in full compliance with Federal laws, regulations, and rules. M&A provides a solid integrated information technology infrastructure to ensure the men and women of ICE have the tools they need to succeed. M&A establishes acquisition strategies, provides oversight of procurement activities and contracts and executes sound and cost-effective financial management policies, standards and systems. In addition, M&A ensures collaboration with internal stakeholders to increase diversity, guarantees timely responses to Freedom of Information Act requests and supports the agency's training needs.
Office of the Principal Legal Advisor
OPLA is the largest legal program in DHS with over 1,100 attorneys. Pursuant to statute, OPLA serves as the exclusive representative of DHS in immigration removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, litigating all removal cases including those against criminal aliens, terrorists, and human rights abusers.
OPLA also provides a full range of legal services to all ICE programs and offices. OPLA provides legal advice and prudential counsel to ICE personnel on their customs, criminal, and immigration law enforcement authorities, the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, ethics, legal liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and a range of administrative law issues, such as contract, fiscal, and employment law. OPLA represents the agency before the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Board of Contract Appeals. OPLA attorneys provide essential support to the Department of Justice in the prosecution of ICE cases and in the defense of ICE's authorities in federal court.
Office of Professional Responsibility
OPR is responsible for upholding the agency’s professional standards through a multi-disciplinary approach of security, inspections and investigations. OPR promotes organizational integrity by vigilantly managing ICE’s security programs, conducting independent reviews of ICE programs and operations, and impartially investigating allegations of serious employee and contractor misconduct, as well as internal and external threats against ICE personnel and facilities.