ICE Enforcement 101: How ICE Locates Targets for Deportation

As a part of a crackdown ordered by President Trump, immigration authorities have been carrying out a series of roundups targeting undocumented families. These raids, managed by the U.S. Immigrations Customs and Enforcement (ICE), can lead to thousands of arrests, as well as eventual deportations. 

These sweeps are part of a broader effort to deport millions of people living in the country illegally. It’s also a new effort to target families, rather than just immigrants with criminal histories. 

For many who are living in the country illegally, these raids can spark fear and uncertainty. Who is ICE targeting in these raids? How do they find targets for deportation?

This is a guide to help you better understand the ICE enforcement process—who they’re targeting during these raids and what you can do if you find yourself caught up in one.

What Does ICE Do?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a government agency in charge of arresting, detaining, and deporting immigrants who are not legally documented to live in the United States, through a visa, green card, or citizenship status. 

ICE works with other local and federal institutions to find those living in the country illegally. These individuals can then be tracked down and arrested at their homes or workplaces. Other large-scale raids can pick up those who weren’t initially on the ICE radar.

Last year, ICE arrested 158,500 immigrants, an 11% increase from the year before. While deportations are intended to target undocumented immigrants with a criminal record, 36.5% of people arrested by ICE have no criminal history.

How Do They Target Groups for Deportation?

In any operation, ICE deportation officers use a variety of means to uncover immigrants. Through data, criminal records, places of employment, and more, ICE targets those who are suspected of living in the country without proper paperwork. 

Here are some of the ways they seek out and identify targets for their raids.

1. Criminal History 

When putting together their target lists, one of the first places ICE searches is law enforcement. Through state law enforcement records or local jails, ICE creates a list of suspected undocumented individuals who have committed crimes. These can include serious crimes or simple traffic violations. 

Through these records, ICE can obtain known addresses of the individual’s home or workplace. They will then seek to detain that person, sometimes with a warrant in hand. 

They may also ask relatives neighbors, coworkers, or witnesses about the whereabouts of the individual.

2. Immigration Courts

Another goal of ICE is to target undocumented families who have violations in the immigration court systems. 

They obtain these names through the court system—targeting the names of those who haven’t shown up for required appearances in court. In some cases, immigrants can be released after arrest. Bail Bonds Immigration may allow them to be released pending their dates in immigration court.

3. Collateral Arrests

While ICE has many names and addresses on file, they don’t have every undocumented immigrant on their list. Many of their arrests are known as “collateral arrests.” In these cases, people who answer an ICE deportation officer’s questions about a different case can end up getting arrested themselves. 

For example, a man was arrested in Houston last year after ICE asked him questions about someone who lived nearby. They then demanded his identification and eventually took him into custody.

4. Workplace Raids

ICE raids can occur at people’s home addresses, but the workplace raids have drawn the most media attention. 

One raid in Texas led to the arrest of 280 employees, the biggest operation in a decade. 

If ICE suspects that a workplace could contain one or more employees that are not in the country legally, a workplace raid allows them to arrest more than one undocumented immigrant at the same time. 

5. Information Databases

As a part of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE has access to certain databases and information-sharing systems in order to target people for arrest and deportation. 

Here are some of the systems they have access to.

Fingerprint Records

When someone is arrested, the police check their fingerprints with databases in the FBI and DHS. ICE can request these records at any time—and then use them to trigger removal proceedings against the individual.

DMV Databases

In some cases, ICE can access state databases, including the DMV database. From these records, they can pull names, home addresses, and license plate numbers. This is used to locate people to target as well as to track them down.

National Crime Information Center Database

ICE can also have access to federal databases like the U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. 

It’s called a criminal database, but it includes civil information, including information about immigration arrests and deportations. Police can report this information to ICE in order to enforce immigration law.

ICE Enforcement 101: What You Need to Know

As of 2016, there were 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Understanding the basics of ICE enforcement—where they go to get access to information and who they target—can help keep you and your loved ones safe from the next wave of deportations.

For those arrested by ICE, they can expect to begin a long process of legal hearings, which could end in either deportation or release.

If you or someone you know has been detained by the Department of Homeland Security or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an immigration bail bond is the first step towards release. It’s important to know what to expect from an ICE arrest—and legal action can help keep your case from getting lost in the system.

Looking for more legal information and advice to keep you and your family safe? Check out our blog to learn more!