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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the second- largest criminal investigative agency in the United States, has a diverse and critical mission. It enforces more than 400 customs and immigration laws, and investigates and dismantles criminal organizations that threaten U.S. national security. “We’re a relatively new agency,” says John Morton, assistant secretary of ICE, “created in 2003 as a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), combining elements of the former Customs Service and the [old] Immigration and Naturalization Service.”
Morton leads an organization of 20,000 employees, with a budget of $5.7 billion. “From our very inception, indeed, the department in which we fit, a top priority,” explains Morton, “has been the prevention of another terrorist attack on the U.S. From our immediate perspective, that means preventing the entry of terrorists and others who would do harm to us in the U.S.” To do this successfully involves the enforcement of all criminal immigration laws, all customs laws, many laws relating to border security, child pornography, sex tourism, and sex trafficking.
“We need to establish clear enforcement priorities,” Morton asserts. He outlines his priorities: bolstering the investigation and prosecution of major crimes, such as international money laundering and organized crime, weapons proliferation and export controls, human trafficking and child exploitation, intellectual property and counterfeiting, and immigration and identity fraud. His focus also inludes reforming the immigration detention program, pursuing work site enforcement, strengthening border security, raising morale, and managing ICE resources prudently and efficiently.