The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, also known as “ICE” is a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which was established in 2003. ICE is the federal agency responsible for the nation’s homeland security, public safety and enforcing all laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration.
Following the events of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Act of 2002 were created which resulted in the merger of various agencies like the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which were responsible for customs, border control, national security, detention, deportation and other investigative and intelligence resources under one agency. This consolidation of these agencies under ICE makes it the largest investigative branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the second largest component of the U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force. It currently has more than 20,000 employees in offices across 50 states and 47 countries. ICE agents are in charge of locating illegal aliens and immigrants convicted of deportable crimes such as an aggravated felony or a crime involving moral turpitude. Once ICE locates deportable individuals, they will lodge an immigration detainer against them and remand them to incarceration until they can be removed from the country and returned to their country of origin. Before someone can be deported, they are entitled to a removal hearing before an immigration judge where they can be represented by an immigration attorney and have their individual case evaluated.