Jul 30 2018
Agency Plays a Critical Role in Protecting Americans From Terrorism, Organized Crime
What would happen without U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Some Democrats in Congress are willing to find out, recently pitching an ill-conceived bill to abolish the federal agency that is responsible for upholding our country’s immigration and customs laws.
Thankfully, this radical effort was strongly rejected by Republicans in Congress, who responded with Senate and House resolutions supporting the necessary and often dangerous work of ICE officers. I cosponsored the Senate resolution, which Democrats have temporarily blocked from even getting a vote. In the House, the measure defending ICE passed by a vote of 244-35, with 133 Democrats merely voting “Present.”
It is ridiculous to think that our country is better off without immigration enforcement. In addition to curbing illegal immigration, ICE fights against terrorism, organized crime, and human smuggling. The agency is a critical piece of our national security strategy, preventing criminals and terrorists from crossing our borders and using our country to move illicit weapons and goods.
127,000 Arrests of Criminals Living Illegally in the U.S.
Termination of ICE would come with significant risks to public safety. The elimination of a law enforcement agency is not the answer to political disagreements about immigration law.
The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to ICE’s role in keeping our communities safe. The agency was responsible for the arrest of 127,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records during Fiscal Year 2017. The crimes associated with those arrested included serious drug and assault offenses, hardly minor violations of the law. That same year, ICE arrested nearly 5,000 gang members and saved more than 1,400 victims of human trafficking.
As the opioid crisis continues to take American lives, the work that ICE does to stop drug rings and confiscate narcotics is still urgent. Earlier this year, ICE was part of a major investigation into a Mississippi-based criminal organization that led to 11 indictments for the smuggling and trafficking of drugs from Mexico.
Fulfilling Its Mission to Keep Citizens Safe
It is important to remember the circumstances under which ICE was created in 2003. Terrorists had attacked New York and Washington just two years before, and our nation needed a better way to guard against the entry of dangerous individuals who want to do us harm. Fifteen years later, our nation is safer because of the men and women at ICE.
Challenges to border security still exist. ICE’s detainment and deportation of illegal migrants may get the most public attention, and Congress should address these challenges with appropriate reforms. But the answer is not to open our borders and abdicate the government’s responsibility to keep its citizens safe.