Accomplishing the agency’s mission requires effective communication, hard work, and coordination from various internal and external stakeholders. ICE Air Operations has the responsibility to support all 24 field offices with air transportation movements, as well as ensuring the security, safety, and welfare of aliens on their return to their countries of origin.
ICE conducts removals through chartered flights, commercial airlines and ground transportation, for both escorted and unescorted removals. For countries not bordering the U.S., removals require ICE air charter or commercial flights.
ICE field offices coordinate with ICE Air Operations, based in Mesa, Arizona, to schedule removal travel and/or domestic transfer via commercial airlines or charter aircraft. There are five ICE Air Operations locations throughout the United States: San Antonio and Brownsville, Texas; Alexandria, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; and Mesa, Arizona. All locations conduct daily domestic transfer missions and removal missions. ICE Air Charter Operations may adapt flight routes and schedules to meet various operational demands.
In addition, all ICE Air Operations locations have the ability to conduct removal missions to Central American countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the Caribbean and South America, and conduct special high-risk charter missions to Europe, Asia, and Africa or to anywhere in the world.
A special high-risk charter mission is scheduled to repatriate individuals who cannot be removed via commercial airlines to locations worldwide, or because of other security concerns or risk factors. For example, detainees who may be disruptive during a flight or who have physically failed to comply with their removal will be removed using a special high-risk charter flight. High profile removal cases, such as aliens deemed national security threats, human rights violators, and detainees with overseas warrants, who are wanted in their home country, are all types of cases which may warrant removal via a special high-risk charter.
ICE Air Operations personnel follow best practices when it comes to the security, safety and welfare of the aliens returned to their countries of origin. Officers transport alien nationals to the flight line for air charter flights and assist with the boarding process.
There are a variety of ERO personnel on board who ensure the health and safety of the aliens and officers during removal flights.