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Tag: ICE

Biden Renominates Texas Sheriff to Lead ICE

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has been nominated to head ICE.

By Steve Neavling

President Biden nominated for a second time Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzaelez to be the next director of ICE. 

ICE has not had a confirmed director since January 2017, when Sarah Saldaña retired. 

In April 2020, Biden first nominated Gonzalez, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump’s immigration policies. But the nomination stalled in the Senate and expired at the end of the year. 

Gonzalez was elected sheriff of Harris County, which includes Houston, in 2016 and reelected in 2020. 

Gonzalez will likely face opposition from Republicans for a second time. 

Gonzalez has criticized Trump’s deportation policies and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

His law enforcement career began in the Houston Police Department, and he later served three terms on the Houston City Council. 

Gonzalez has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston Downtown and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. 

Homeland Security Investigations Wants a Divorce from ICE

By Steve Neavling

Hampered by ICE’s negative reputation, federal agents from Homeland Security Investigations are making a dramatic proposal: Leave ICE. 

The suggestion was laid out in a report obtained by The Washington Post.

“Separating HSI into its own standalone agency is not simply a branding preference,” agents said in the document. “HSI’s affiliation with ICE significantly impedes investigations and HSI’s ability to fulfill its mission.”

The agents said their relationship with ICE is endangering their safety, frightening crime victims, and undermining their partnerships with other agencies. 

Congressional approval would be needed to break HSI from ICE. 

Some Homeland Security Agents to Begin Wearing Body Cams

Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

Dozens of Homeland Security agents will begin wearing body cams as part of a six-month pilot program. 

The cameras will be worn by 55 Homeland Security Investigations agents in Houston, Newark, New Jersey and New York, the Associated Press reports.

The idea is to examine the cost and benefits of the technology. 

The pilot is expected to be expanded to include officers involved in immigration enforcement arrests. 

While many local and state law enforcement wear body cameras, federal agents have not. 

ATF agents in Phoenix and Detroit began wearing body cams in September.

In August, CBP announced that about a third of Border Patrol agents will wear body cameras by the end of this year.

In June, the Justice Department’s Inspector General said federal law enforcement agencies were “generally unprepared” to adopt the widespread use of body cameras.

In the last decade, the Justice Department issued $150 million in grants for camera programs, but none of that money went to the ATF, FBI, DEA, or U.S. Marshals Service. 

U.S. Agents Find ‘Sophisticated’ Tunnel for Drug Trafficking Near Border

Sophisticated tunnel found near the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: ICE

By Steve Neavling

U.S. agents and Mexican authorities discovered a large, “sophisticated” tunnel near the U.S.-Mexico border that was outfitted with electricity, ventilation, a rail system with a cart and an electronic hoist, ICE announced. 

The 183-foot-long subterranean tunnel was found beneath a house in the city of Mexicali in the Mexican state of Baja California near Calexico, Calif. 

It was used by drug traffickers, who dug the tunnel nearly 22 feet beneath the ground, ICE said. 

“These types of tunnels enable drug traffickers to conduct illicit activities virtually undetected across the U.S.–Mexico border,” Cardell T. Morant, special agent in charge of HSI San Diego, said in a statement. “Discovering and shutting down these tunnels deals a major blow to drug trafficking organizations because it denies them the ability to smuggle drugs, weapons and people across the border.”

Biden Taps Ed Gonzalez, a Texas Sheriff, to Head ICE

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has been nominated to head ICE.

By Steve Neavling

President Joe Biden plans to nominate Ed Gonzalez, a Texas sheriff and outspoken critic of Donald Trump’s immigration policies, to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the White House announced Tuesday.

Gonzalez was elected sheriff of Harris County, which includes Houston, in 2016 and reelected in 2020. 

Gonzalez will likely face opposition from Republicans during his Senate confirmation hearing, which has not yet been set. 

ICE has not had a permanent leader since 2017. 

Gonzalez has criticized Trump’s deportation policies and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

His law enforcement career began in the Houston Police Department, and he later served three terms on the Houston City Council. 

Gonzalez has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston Downtown and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. 

Biden Wants Funding Increase to Investigate White Supremacy within CBP, ICE

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

President Biden’s budget proposal seeks to increase oversight of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to investigate complaints of white supremacy. 

Under the proposal, workforce oversight offices within CBP and ICE would receive $470 million, a 22% increase in funding, Reuters reports.

The idea is to ensure timely investigations of workforce complaints, including “those related to white supremacy or ideological and non-ideological beliefs.”

The impetus for the increased oversight wasn’t immediately clear, but the Biden administration has prioritized combating domestic extremism, which a Homeland Security report in 2020 described as “the most persistent and lethal threat” to the U.S. 

Homeland Security Investigations tracks down 19th Century Painting Stolen in Italy

“The Assumption of the Virgin Mary” by Italian artist Giuseppe Pappini in 1851.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) tracked down a 19th century painting that was stolen in Italy in 2002.

Acting on a tip from the HSI Attaché Office in Rome, investigators found the painting in the Dallas area, where a private art collected had purchased the painting in 2015 from a dealer who apparently was unaware that it was stolen, ICE says in a news release.

The artwork, titled “the Assumption of the Virgin Mary,” was painted by Italian artist Giuseppe Pappini in August 1851.

The private collector agreed to hand over the painting to investigators so it could be returned to the Abbey of Santa Maria in Sylvis in Sesto al Reghena, a monastery in Italy where it had been stolen.

“Investigating the loss or looting of cultural heritage properties and returning them to their countries of origin is an important part of HSI’s diverse mission” Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI Dallas, said. “Our specially trained investigators and attachés in more than 40 countries not only partner with governments, agencies and experts who share our mission to protect these items, but they train the investigators of other nations and agencies on how to find, authenticate and enforce the law to recover these items when they emerge in the marketplace.”

Read more about ICE’s investigations of cultural property, arts and antiques.

Largest ICE Raid During COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to 2,000+ Arrests

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A six-week ICE operation netted more than 2,000 arrests of undocumented immigrants, most of whom have been charged or convicted of a crime.

The operation, which ran from July to August, led to arrests in communities across the country, CBS News reports.

About 85% of those arrested had been charged or convicted of crimes ranging from domestic abuse to robbery. Those without criminal charges involved immigrants who did not leave the country after a judge ordered them to be deported.

It was the largest operation since the coronavirus pandemic.

ICE has limited its operations amid COVID-19 to avoid outbreaks among detainees. ICE arrested 94,500 arrests inside communities in this fiscal year, as of Aug. 22. During the same time period last year, ICE arrested more than 143,000 people.