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Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit


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Mission: To prevent terrorists and other criminals from exploiting the nation's immigration system.

The Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit is part of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) National Security Investigations Division. The unit prevents terrorists and other criminals from exploiting the nation's immigration system through fraud.

It investigates non-immigrant visa holders who violate their immigration status and places a high priority on scrutinizing the activities of known or suspected terrorists and terrorist associations. It also combats criminal exploitation of the student visa system.

The unit comprises two sections:

  • Terrorist Tracking and Pursuit Group, and
  • SEVIS Exploitation Section
    • Project Campus Sentinel (PCS)

These sections work together and form an integrated national security force that draws upon government databases to gather and analyze leads on visitors to the United States. They also aim to identify potential security or criminal threats.

The unit also coordinates with the National Counterterrorism Center to conduct criminal investigations of national security fraud.

Terrorist Tracking & Pursuit Group

The Terrorist Tracking and Pursuit Group leverages ICE expertise across partnering agencies dedicated to promoting national security. The group leads the DHS National Security Overstay Initiative in cooperation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Biometric Identity Management, and the National Counterterrorism Center to identify non-immigrants that have overstayed the terms of their admission, which may pose a potential risk to the national security of the United States. This group also initiates high priority investigations based on recommendations from the Compliance Enforcement Advisory Panel, the DHS National Security Overstay Initiative and other Federal Agencies.

SEVIS Exploitation Section

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Exploitation Section (SES) proactively identifies, disrupts and dismantles organizational and individual exploitation of systemic SEVIS database vulnerabilities. The SES identifies suspect groups, organizations, educational institutions and individuals through strategic analysis and refers leads to field offices for criminal investigation of terrorism-related activity, foreign intelligence operations, transnational organized crime or immigration fraud.

The SES also implements and manages Project Campus Sentinel (PCS). PCS is the Agent outreach program that partners with educational institutions to improve communications between designated school officials (DSO) and HSI agents by providing training to identify criminal activity and a mechanism to report SEVIS exploitation and fraud schemes that may compromise national security.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 01/03/2018