A report from The Daily Beast shows the increasing prominence of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency's influence on American politics as the organization attempts to gain access to spy agency secrets. This ICE strategy has civil liberties activists on edge.
ICE officials have been moving to officially join the United States Intelligence Community. The move has technically been underway since the Obama administration, but has become increasingly possible since Trump's electoral victory.
ICE officials say that joining the Intellegence Community (IC) would have several benefits that would ultimately work towards the prosecution of money laundering, terrorism, and cybercrimes. The joining of the agencies would also help in the catching and arresting of illegal immigrants.
“ICE has for the past decade been keenly interested in joining the Intelligence Community,” said Peter Vincent, general counsel for ICE under the Obama administration. “ICE officials have felt that by doing so, they would have greater prestige and credibility and authority.”
Meanwhile, many are concerned about the infringement on civil liberties this situation might cause.
“The idea that ICE could potentially get access to warrantless surveillance is frankly terrifying,” said Jake Laperruque, senior counsel at the Project on Government Oversight.
“The prospect of ICE joining the Intelligence Community, if true, should sound alarm bells ... Such a move threatens to give an agency responsible for domestic immigration enforcement access to a vast pool of sensitive information collected by our spy agencies for foreign intelligence purposes. Those spying tools do not belong in the hands of ICE agents," echoed Patrick Toomey, an attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project.
Before this possibility becomes reality, ICE officials will need to seek out approval from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. It is possible, although unlikely, that President Trump himself would usher in these changes through an executive order.
Should the changes be made official ICE agents will have to go through training pertaining to the minimization of data sharing about American citizens.
ICE agents currently have some access to unfinished intelligence and counterintelligence products called Intelligence Information Reports. Should ICE join the IC, many of the limits on ICE's access would be lifted.
While Trump has been openly critical of the Intelligence Community writ large, he has been a huge advocate of ICE efforts, leading many to believe he would be in support of policies to increase the latter organization's power and influence.
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