Blogs > Cliopatria > Of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE

May 11, 2008 7:48 pm

Of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE

The Washington Post is starting a new series of articles on the rotten conditions for immigrant detainees. To summarize the first article, the Department of Homeland Security's poor to incompetent health care has killed people.

There are a lot of issues related to this that I would love for the presidential candidates to address. One is the ghastly behemoth that the Department of Homeland Security has become.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the DHS structure and where detainees fall within it.

First there is the opening statement of purpose:

Homeland Security leverages resources within federal, state, and local governments, coordinating the transition of multiple agencies and programs into a single, integrated agency focused on protecting the American people and their homeland. More than 87,000 different governmental jurisdictions at the federal, state, and local level have homeland security responsibilities. The comprehensive national strategy seeks to develop a complementary system connecting all levels of government without duplicating effort. Homeland Security is truly a “national mission.”

Now here is the list of what they call ”department components.” This includes 16 centers, offices, directorates, and other organizational types, including FEMA and the Coast Guard. The largest of these is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (ICE)

Here is the ICE’s (their acronym) statement of purpose:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is responsible for eliminating vulnerabilities in the nation's border, and with economic, transportation and infrastructure security.

The ICE organization is composed of four law enforcement divisions and several support divisions. These divisions of ICE combine to form a new investigative approach with new resources to provide unparalleled investigation, interdiction and security services to the public and our law enforcement partners in the federal and local sectors.

The ICE has eight “offices.” One is the Office of Detention and Removal Operations. Here is the description for it:

The Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) is responsible for promoting public safety and national security by making certain through the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws that all removable aliens depart the United States.

How We Work

DRO makes use of its resources and expertise to transport aliens, to manage them while in custody and waiting for their cases to be processed, and to remove unauthorized aliens from the United States when so ordered.

Here is their first semi-annual report on their compliance with detention standards, that came out May 9. From now on, each semi-annual report will cover half of their detention facilities, so that all have an annual report. As of 2008, ICE funds over 35,000 bed spaces in over 300 facilities ranging from local jails to centers such as the one discussed in the Washington Post article.

Perhaps it is not so strange that in an organization this large, that something so trivial as health care for its detainees has been lost in the shuffle. After all, is one of the presidential candidates likely to bring this up as an issue? Would any elected official take the effort needed to let the people near the top of the bureaucracy know that someone with a bit of power actually cares about these people?

And in the absence of such concern, and given the amount of lobbying and petitioning each part of the DHS engenders, how concerned can people at the top afford to be?

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