Why is ICE at Mardi Gras?
Non-stop excitement. Colorful costumes. Numerous parades. And yes, lots of beads. It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) will be there! Not to party and have a good time, of course, but to assist local law enforcement in combatting criminal activity and helping with security efforts to keep the more than one million people who will visit the Crescent City safe and sound.
This year will mark the first time the agency has been called upon to be on the ground to support Mardi Gras activities. In addition to providing day-to-day security in and around the world famous French Quarter, HSI personnel will be working diligently to combat human trafficking as well as assist the local special response team, among other tasks. HSI will work with its law enforcement partners in New Orleans throughout Mardi Gras, which culminates on Fat Tuesday.
Welcome to New Orleans
New Orleans is one of the most vibrant cities in the United States. The people and culture of the bayou make it a go-to destination for travel, especially during Mardi Gras. HSI Special Agent John Schmidt knows it well. And in the following video, the New Orleans native describes the spirit of the city, what makes Mardi Gras special and why everyone should make a trip to see “the greatest free show on earth” once in their life.
HSI’s role at Mardi Gras
This year’s Mardi Gras was designated a Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) 2 event, a rating that determines the risk level for events that may be considered as potential threat targets and helps determine the security resources needed. As the federal coordinator for Mardi Gras, HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Jere Miles was tasked with ensuring that the requests of the city were met. As part of that effort, HSI New Orleans provided a mobile command center to be on hand in the event of an emergency and put in place operations to combat human trafficking.
In the following video, SAC Miles discusses in detail the role of the federal coordinator and HSI’s work during Mardi Gras.
Sweeping the Streets after Mardi Gras
Fat Tuesday marked the traditional end of another Mardi Gras. And while the party was over for most people, HSI had one last mission to complete – sweeping the area from Canal down Bourbon Street. It was the culmination of many long hours in which HSI has been at the forefront, working effectively in collaboration with its law enforcement partners to keep New Orleans secure.