Immigrants, legal or otherwise, in Georgia might live in fear of the broad purview and authority of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Others might champion ICE as a necessary tool to find and deport alien criminals and terrorists to curb cross-border illegal activity. 

These vastly differing viewpoints met with current events at the U.S. border and sparked a movement to abolish ICE. As with most political arguments, the reasonable solution probably lies somewhere in the middle, and the public has a right to hear both sides of the debate. 

What is ICE? 

According to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, the government formed ICE in 2003 under the Department of Homeland Security. Its primary purpose is to enforce federal immigration laws through which it would ultimately defend America against transnational terrorism and crime. 

The Enforcement and Removal Operations, one of several ICE directives, encompasses all immigration enforcement activity within and outside the U.S. Legislators have given the ERO a broad definition of non-citizen criminal offenses and the authority to arrest any unauthorized immigrant that appears to be a danger to the public without filing any other criminal charges. 

Why do some question the value of ICE? 

Some immigration reform supporters might believe, however, that ICE pushes its mandate to the point of violating fundamental human rights. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that, initially, ICE operated much like a secret police squad, conducting raids on migrant communities in unmarked cars and detaining them without identifying the agency in charge. 

Recently, the U.S.-Mexico border crisis revealed the Customs and Border Protection practice of detaining asylum-seeking families, separating the children and then deporting the parents or refusing to facilitate communication between them. Advocates have called this “cruel and illegal treatment of children” and believe that ICE’s contributions to homeland security no longer outweighs the harm of their immigration enforcement methods.