Immigration and Customs Frontline Shares Requirements

February 25, 2009
By Henry Kenyon

One key element of dealing with illegal immigrants is determining why they are coming to the United States in the first place, said Dave Venturella, executive director, Secure Communities, U.S. Immigration and Customer Enforcement (ICE), DHS, at AFCEA's Homeland Security conference today. This includes taking a close look at the employers who hire them, he added.

Members of the second panel of the day also agreed that the threat illegal immigrants pose is too expansive for one agency to deal with on its own. Instead, it requires partnerships among federal, state, local and tribal organizations. A number of programs have been set up to monitor the situation, including the Document and Benefit Task Force, the Work-site Enforcement program, the Compliance Enforcement Unit and Operation Community Shield, which specifically deals with the threat from gangs, Venturella added.

Mary Loiselle, deputy director, office of detention and removal operations, ICE, shared that her group used to handle criminal illegal immigrant cases identified by other organizations within ICE. However, within the past 5 years, her organization is generating its own cases. As a result of increased persistence and personnel, each day her office identifies and processes more than 600 criminal illegal aliens and processes more than 1,000 illegal aliens into detention centers. The sheer number of people going into the bed-space and transportation process requires an electronic tracking systems similar to those used by major hotel chains, Loiselle stated.

Panelist Rob Foster, deputy chief information officer, ICE, agreed, saying that problems must be prioritized and automation would help achieve this goal. Other organizations within ICE rely on Foster's office to help them determine their information technology requirements and acquire the appropriate products, including tactical communications. "You can't just throw people at the problem; you have to throw some technology at it, too," he said.

To ensure interoperability and proper processes, Foster advocates for modular solutions that can be introduced one at a time but in quick succession. Industry should not look back and develop solutions to past problems but rather understand the current and future requirements and introduce creative solutions to these. He asked the commercial sector to come together as a team with solutions that are secure, within the enterprise architecture and in modular formats.

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