Case Reveals Lack of Enforcement Priorities in ICE's Homeland Security Investigations Division

By Dan Cadman on August 27, 2015

As is my habit from time to time, I was browsing when my eye was caught by a photo of federal agents carrying boxes containing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seal, so I looked closer and, yep, the logo confirmed that they were evidence boxes used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

The accompanying headline read, "Seven Arrested as Federal Agents Take Down '' Escort Service" and, sure enough, agents of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division had worked with the FBI, New York Police, and U.S. Attorney's office to target and charge the principals of a male escort service accused of prostitution and money laundering.

Honestly, I vacillate between laughing out loud and boiling with outrage. It's not that there is anything wrong with the takedown; almost certainly it should have happened. But why the ICE presence? I'm not going to say they don't have statutory authority to participate — most assuredly they do. But how does investigating a male prostitution service make the homeland safer? Are they going to tell us that the call-boys and their bosses were tithing a portion of their laundered proceeds to radicals sworn to wage jihad on America?

The takedown reveals the fundamental dysfunction of ICE: Literally half of its officer corps and support staff — those assigned to the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division, who are charged with most of the duties associated with enforcing the immigration laws — are sitting on their thumbs because, through a series of deliberately damaging policies mandating "prosecutorial discretion" and skewing priorities, the administration has rendered their work impossible.

But the other half of ICE — the folks over at HSI, who would pretty much rather cut off their thumbs than sully them doing immigration work — act like prima donnas who are free to pick and choose their priorities with no oversight or involvement from their bosses at either ICE or DHS. Take a look at their abysmal alien smuggling statistics at a time when the country is overwhelmed with cross-border traffic, including massive movement of women and children illegally across our borders. Consider their nonexistent efforts to detect and prosecute employers who abuse the system by hiring unauthorized workers.

My question is a simple one: Why isn't the administration, which is so quick to remind us of the need to husband and use limited homeland security resources responsibly (ostensibly the reason for all of their absurdist policies restricting ERO agents from doing many kinds of immigration enforcement work), applying a "prosecutorial discretion" standard to HSI and telling those agents that if a case doesn't measurably and qualitatively make the homeland safer, they have no business getting involved? After all, it's not like the FBI and NYPD couldn't have handled this case on their own.