ICE developed the ACCESS program in response to the widespread interest from local law enforcement agencies who have requested ICE assistance through the 287(g) program. This program cross-designates local officers to enforce immigration law as authorized through section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The 287g program is only one component under the ICE ACCESS umbrella of services and programs offered for assistance to local law enforcement officers.
ICE agents and officers will meet with agencies requesting ICE ACCESS assistance to assess local needs and to draft appropriate plans of action. Based upon these assessments, ICE and local agencies will determine which type of partnership is most beneficial and sustainable before entering into an official agreement.
Law enforcement agencies interested in reviewing the enforcement programs under the ICE ACCESS program are encouraged to call their local ICE office or visit www.ice.gov for more information.
Criminal organizations that conduct cross-border crimes earn illicit proceeds that sustain their criminal activity and fund other criminal endeavors. Asset forfeiture laws allow ICE agents to seize and forfeit these illicit proceeds and other criminally derived assets. ICE uses asset forfeiture to disrupt and dismantle these organizations across all ICE investigative areas, such as money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, worksite enforcement, and alien and drug smuggling investigations. The proceeds of these forfeitures are deposited into the Treasury Forfeiture Fund and are returned to member agencies to pay for a variety of important law enforcement operations.
The concept of the Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BEST) is that DHS law enforcement agencies, working cooperatively with other law enforcement entities, develop a comprehensive approach to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations posing significant threats to border security. BEST Task Forces are currently located in Arizona, California, and Texas.
The Criminal Alien Program (CAP) focuses on identifying criminal aliens who are incarcerated within federal, state and local facilities, thereby ensuring that they are not released into the community by securing a final order of removal prior to the termination of their sentence.
Title 19 United States Code 1401 (I) allows for Federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement officers who participate primarily on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement task force operations to be cross designated as “Customs Officers” and be granted the authority to enforce U.S. customs law. These cross designated task force officers supplement ICE’s investigative mission of combating narcotics smuggling, money laundering, human smuggling and trafficking, and fraud related activities to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations threatening U.S. borders. It enhances ICE’s ability to work more closely with our foreign law enforcement counterparts, thus creating secure relationships and cooperation between the U.S. and other countries.
In April 2006, ICE created Document and Benefit Fraud Task Forces (DBFTFs) to target, dismantle and seize illicit proceeds of the criminal organizations that threaten national security and public safety by exploiting the immigration process through fraud. The DBFTFs provide an effective platform from which to launch anti-fraud initiatives using existing manpower and authorities. Through DBFTFs, ICE partners with other federal agencies, state and local law enforcement. These task forces focus their efforts on detecting, deterring and disrupting both benefit fraud and document fraud. DBFTFs were initially launched in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, St. Paul and Washington, DC. In April 2007, additional task forces were added in Baltimore, Chicago, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco and Tampa, bringing the total to 17 nationwide.
Asset forfeiture has been, and remains, a highly effective tool for taking the profit out of crime. State, local, and foreign law enforcement support of federal investigative and prosecutorial initiatives is essential; and the sharing program has proved invaluable in fostering enhanced cooperation among the law enforcement agencies. In FY 2006, ICE coordinated payments of $5.65 million in overtime costs for state and local police officers working alongside ICE agents throughout the U.S., and provided $43.46 million in direct payments of equitable sharing of forfeited assets to 362 state and local agencies, four federal agencies and one foreign government. These payments allow agencies to cooperatively combat crimes in their jurisdictions through joint operations with ICE and have increased goodwill and partnership with these agencies.
The primary mission of FOTs is to identify, locate, apprehend, process, and remove fugitive aliens from the United States with the highest priority placed on those fugitives who have been convicted of crimes. Further, FOTs’ goal is to eliminate the backlog of fugitives and ensure that the number of aliens deported equals the number of final orders of removal issued by the immigration courts in any given year.
In order to effectively meet its goal of removing all removable aliens, ICE relies on the assistance of all federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. One of the ways that outside law enforcement agencies can assist the FOTs is by participating in local Joint Fugitive Task Forces.
The 287(g) program cross-designates local officers to enforce immigration law as authorized through section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
To date, more than 60 municipal, county, and state agencies nationwide have requested 287(g) MOAs with ICE and more than 400 local and state officers have been trained under the program.
In 2000, the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), located in Washington, D.C., was created. The IPR Center is the U.S. Government’s central point of contact in the fight against violations of intellectual property rights violations and the flow of counterfeit goods into the U.S. Commerce. The Center operates as a multi-agency facility responsible for coordinating a unified U.S. Government response regarding IPR enforcement issues. Core staffing is provided by investigative and intelligence personnel from ICE. Particular emphasis is given to protecting the public health and safety of U.S. consumers, investigating major criminal organizations engaged in transnational intellectual property crimes, and pursuing the illegal proceeds derived from the manufacture and sale of counterfeit merchandise.
The mission of the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) is to protect the United States and its people by providing timely accurate information and assistance to the federal, state and local law enforcement community. The LESC serves as a national enforcement operations center by providing timely immigration status and identity information to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on aliens suspected, arrested or convicted of criminal activity. The LESC operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week assisting law enforcement agencies with information gathered from 8 DHS databases, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Interstate Identification Index (III) and other state criminal history indices.
In February 2005, ICE launched Operation Community Shield, a national law enforcement initiative that brings all of ICE’s law enforcement powers to bear in the fight against violent transnational gangs that are threatening the public safety of our communities. Operation Community Shield is part of a comprehensive approach of working with our law enforcement partners at the federal, state, and local level to combat transnational gangs. Under this initiative, ICE is using its broad authorities, both criminal and administrative, against gangs and gang members. This authority includes conducting investigations involving narcotics and human smuggling, money laundering and racketeering violations. The goal of Operation Community Shield is to identify, locate, arrest, and prosecute gang members and associates and ultimately disrupt and dismantle gang organizations. Initially, the focus of the effort was the Mara Salvatrucha organization, commonly referred to as “MS-13,” one of the most violent and rapidly growing of these street gangs. In May 2005, ICE expanded Operation Community Shield to include all criminal street gangs that pose a threat to national security and public safety.
The smuggling of bulk currency out of the United States has become a preferred method of moving illicit proceeds across our borders. To combat the increasing use of Bulk Cash Smuggling (BCS) by criminal organizations, the ICE Financial, Narcotics and Public Safety Division and the CBP Office of Field Operations, Tactical Operations Division, developed a joint strategic BCS initiative referred to as Operation Firewall, which began in August 2005, and has continued to expand through FY 2006 and FY 2007. Operation Firewall has directly resulted in the seizure of over $80 million in U.S. currency and negotiable instruments of suspected narcotics and other criminal proceeds.
Operation Predator is a program designed to identify, investigate, and, as appropriate, administratively deport child predators. ICE routinely coordinates and integrates investigative efforts with foreign law enforcement, in order to identify, arrest and prosecute the principals who are involved in international pedophilic groups or who derive proceeds from commercial child exploitation ventures.