ICE or Immigration and Customs Enforcement

ICE Detains And Deports Undocumented Immigrants From Arizona
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a bureau of the Department of Homeland Security, created on March 1, 2003. ICE enforces immigration and customs laws and works to protect the U.S. against terrorist attacks. ICE achieves its goals by targeting illegal immigrants, particularly those people, money, and materials that support terrorism and other criminal activities.

The HSI Division of ICE

Detective work is a big part of what ICE does. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that is charged with investigating and gathering intelligence on a wide range of criminal activities, including immigration offenses.

HSI gathers the evidence that makes the cases against criminal operations. The agency has some of the top detectives and information analysts in the federal government. In recent years, HSI agents have investigated human smuggling and other human rights violations, art theft, trafficking, visa fraud, drug smuggling, arms dealing, gang activities, white-collar crimes, money laundering, cybercrimes, counterfeit money and prescription drug sales, import/export activity, pornography, and blood-diamond dealing.

Formerly known as the ICE Office of Investigations, HSI has about 6,500 agents and is the largest investigative division in Homeland Security, ranking second to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. government.

HSI also has strategic enforcement and security capabilities with officers who perform paramilitary-type duties similar to police SWAT teams. These Special Response Team units are used during high-risk operations and have provided security even during the aftermaths of earthquakes and hurricanes.

Much of the work HSI agents do is in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies at the state, local and federal levels.

ICE and the H-1B Program

The H-1B visa program is popular with both political parties in Washington but it also can be challenging for U.S. immigration officials to ensure that participants are following the law.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) devotes considerable resources trying to rid the H-1B program of fraud and corruption. The visa is designed to allow U.S. businesses to temporarily employ foreign workers with specialized skills or expertise in fields such as accounting, engineering or computer science. Sometimes businesses don’t play by the rules, however.

In 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services concluded that 21 percent of H-1B visa applications contained fraudulent information or technical violations.

Federal officials have since put in more safeguards to ensure that the visa applicants comply with the law and accurately represent themselves. In 2014, USCIS approved 315,857 new H-1B visas and H-1B renewals, so there is plenty of work for federal watchdogs, and ICE investigators, in particular, to do.

A Case of Visa Fraud in Texas

A case in Texas is a good example of the work ICE does in monitoring the program. In November 2015, after a six-day trial in Dallas before U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, a federal jury convicted two brothers of felony visa fraud and abuse of the H-1B program.

Two brothers Atul Nanda, 46, and his brother, Jiten "Jay" Nanda, 44, created, established, and ran a computer company located in Carrollton, Texas, which recruited foreign workers with expertise who wanted to work in the U.S. They sponsored H-1B visas, claiming that there were full-time positions with annual salaries for the new workers, but did not, in fact, have actual positions for them at the time they were recruited. Instead, the brothers used the people as a pool of skilled part-time workers.

The two were each convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, and four counts of wire fraud, according to federal officials.

The penalties are severe for visa fraud. The conspiracy to commit visa fraud count carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Each wire fraud count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

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McFadyen, Jennifer. "ICE or Immigration and Customs Enforcement." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, McFadyen, Jennifer. (2021, February 16). ICE or Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Retrieved from McFadyen, Jennifer. "ICE or Immigration and Customs Enforcement." ThoughtCo. (accessed July 25, 2021).