What is an Immigration Enforcement Agent?

Immigration Enforcement AgentAn immigration enforcement agent (IEA) provides local and national security through identifying, investigating, detaining and deporting criminals who violate immigration laws.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration enforcement agents are employed by an agency called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is the biggest investigative body of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ICE is tasked with enforcing federal laws related to customs, immigration, border control and public safety. ICE employers over 20,000 workers in over 400 offices spread throughout the U.S. They also have approximately 50 overseas offices located in foreign shipping ports. ICE is split into three major divisions: Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and Management and Administration (M&A).

Immigration Enforcement Agents

Immigration enforcement agents have many professional responsibilities. They are generally tasked with detecting and arresting foreign nationals who lack proper immigration documentation, then processing these undocumented aliens through the legal system. They initiate investigations, prosecution and deportation proceedings. Certain immigration enforcement agents primarily transport and deliver illegal aliens to international agencies or their home countries. These agents coordinate and cooperate with foreign law enforcement agencies and personnel about immigration regulation operations. Some immigration enforcement agents monitor and investigate criminal activities that originate from outside the US.

Homeland Security Investigations

Immigration enforcement agents who work for ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations department are assigned to either domestic or international units. ICE employs almost 7,000 special agents who are stationed in over 200 domestic cities and 50 countries. Because they investigate crimes related to exports, narcotics and smuggling, some agents are stationed overseas and assigned to act as liaisons with foreign law enforcement agencies. Certain agents also investigate financial, business and computer crimes. Available office careers include financial analyst, fingerprint technician and intelligence research specialists. Field careers include criminal investigators, crime scene photographer and field supervisor.

Enforcement and Removal Operations

These immigration enforcement agents must fairly and effectively enforce immigration laws. They identify, apprehend and remove illegal aliens. They focus on arresting and deporting convicted criminals who pose significant threats to public safety and national security. They supervise aliens in custody and detention program before deportation. They also assist refugees and individuals seeking asylum through providing access to legal resources and advocates. There are many diverse careers available in ICE’s department of Enforcement and Removal Operations. This includes health care positions, such as medical officers and technicians, and office positions, such as telecommunications and inventory management specialists. Enforcement positions include criminal investigator, program analyst and detention and removal assistant.

What are the Job Requirements?

The minimum requirement to become an immigration enforcement agent is a bachelor’s degree or relevant education with at least three years of professional experience. Although ICE does not mandate what majors are required, job candidates must have completed pertinent courses related to law, criminal justice and law enforcement. Military veterans and those with significant law enforcement experience may have the educational requirement waived. A master’s degree or graduate level coursework is required for higher positions. ICE agents must be citizens who are at least 21 years of age and under the age of 37. This maximum age limit is sometimes waived for military and law enforcement veterans.

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Bear in mind that these highly trained law enforcement professionals often enter risky areas where criminals may be present.