Living in El Paso, Texas, Yomarel Justiniano knew about the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and wanted to be a part of it.
She committed to law enforcement as a career and never looked back.
During her 12- year tenure with ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), she worked in El Paso, Miami, and currently serves as a deportation officer in the ERO Orlando office.
Justiniano’s work requires skill, compassion and flexibility. “Every day is different,” she said, “I come into work, check the jails in our district and see if they arrested anyone believed to be in the U.S. illegally. I go to the jail and take fingerprints, send them to the FBI for analysis and wait for them to return the result and any criminal history.”
When necessary, Justiniano arrests individuals, takes them into custody and places them in removal proceedings. If illegal aliens must undergo criminal prosecution for re-entry, in coordination with the Office of the United States Attorney, she escorts individuals to federal court the same day they are picked up from jail or prison. Justiniano said, “We spend a lot of time dealing with legal issues and paperwork; it helps that we have a good relationship with local law enforcement.”
Miami Field Office Director Marc J. Moore points out how strong law enforcement relationships make a difference for everyone, “The relationships she has built with county jails in her region pay dividends every day in making our communities safer.”
“Deportation Officer Yomarel Justiniano is an essential part of our ERO team,” he said.
Justiniano’s office mainly targets illegal felons and sometimes officers have to go to their homes to make arrests. Officers conduct surveillance for days, or weeks at a time, to determine when it is safe to move forward with an arrest. “The challenge is that you don’t know what you’ll be up against,” said Justiniano, “you don’t know what is behind that door.”
The ERO Orlando office supports several missions, including the Criminal Alien Program, Alternatives to Detention Program, Non-Detained Operations and Fugitive Operations.
Officer Justiniano and her colleagues at ERO Orlando receive refresh training every three months. Officers must qualify with their firearms and review defensive techniques, arrest techniques, handcuffing techniques, house arrest scenarios and field surveillance scenarios. The necessary training builds individual and team skills.
“We feel comfortable going out in the field together,” said Justiniano, “everyone has to get along because if something happens, we have to watch out for each other. We’re a really good team.”
In additional to her regular work duties, Justiniano participates in the ICE Peer Support Program. The employee run program provides peer-to-peer support for any ICE employee experiencing a difficult time or trauma. It serves as a confidential option for anyone who would like to talk. If someone requires additional help, the program refers them to the ICE Employee Assistance Program (EAP).