U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) officers from Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) must be prepared for any situation in targeting some the most dangerous criminals in the nation. Their role is to investigate, identify and arrest those who not only came here unlawfully, but who turned to a life of crime and don’t want to be caught, such as gang members, drug dealers and violent criminals.
ERO officers enter a career field that requires rigorous and intense training. Recruits are trained at the ICE Academy at both the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia and in Charleston, South Carolina.
Brian Figueiredo, a deportation officer in New York said, “All training was conducted as if we were in the field. We always moved in a stack, had our weapons and took everything seriously. Ensuring it was as real as possible was mandatory.”
ERO officers are taught techniques such as how to quickly and efficiently cover a room. “You picture the doorway like a bread slicer,” said Figueiredo, “with each officer who enters the room like a ‘slice’ being cut.”
ERO’s recruits are immersed in real-life scenarios. They diligently search for items well hidden in homes, serve warrants to belligerent and uncooperative actors, find suspects hiding in vehicles, are peppered with every question imaginable as they would be in court and engage in dynamic action and combat shooting.
Another recent graduate, Vincent Miers, an immigration enforcement agent on the Fugitive Operations Team in San Jose, California, said, “The most challenging aspect of training was working with agents from various field offices, with varying personalities, tactics and experiences, while trying to develop a cohesive team in just two weeks.”
“From my class coordinator to the tactics and legal training staff, each instructor took the time to make sure each student not only understood the information but could apply that knowledge in actual field operations,” said Miers.
Michael Louie, a deportation officer in Portland, Oregon, works in the Violent Criminal Alien Section. Louie is involved in cases in which individuals were deported and have returned (a federal offense). He targets individuals who have egregious criminal backgrounds and presents them to the United States Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
Louie said that an important part of ERO training is the clear understanding of an individual’s Constitutional rights. “Whether conducting an operation on a residence, business or vehicle stop, the primary concern and focus is Fourth Amendment rights, and how to prevent violating a person’s rights.”
ERO prioritizes for arrest and removal convicted criminals, those who pose a threat to national security, fugitives and recent border entrants. In fiscal year 2014, ERO removed 315,943 aliens from the United States, of which 98 percent were priorities for arrest and removal.