Body Cameras for ICE?

Program inspired by anti-ICE members of Congress is being rolled out despite pilot showing no benefit

By Jon Feere on April 4, 2024

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that it will deploy 1,600 body-worn cameras to its two law enforcement components, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). This comes after a six-month pilot program that was announced in December 2021. The body cameras will be used in the Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, Buffalo, and Detroit areas of responsibility.

During a press conference on ICE’s plan to expand the use of body cams, ICE Director P.J. Lechleitner referred to the pilot program as “successful” without providing evidence of any successes. In fact, the results of the pilot were analyzed in a RAND Corporation assessment, discussed below, which provided little evidence of success, but raised numerous questions related to costs, public safety, enforcement, efficiency, technology, and management.

The push for ICE to use body cams has its origins in bills introduced by anti-ICE members of Congress. These members have called for ICE to be abolished and have opposed the arrest and removal of aliens with criminal convictions ranging from sex assault to robbery. They are not motivated by an effort to improve ICE in any way.

As of this writing, no one has explained how the use of body cams will benefit ICE’s enforcement effort. Will it increase arrests and removals? Will it result in easier operations? Will it result in illegal aliens being more compliant with the rule of law? Will it discourage illegal immigration and encourage foreigners to return home when their visas expire? Will illegal aliens be less likely to assault officers?

These are all basic questions that media could have and should have asked at the press conference, but none did. If these inquiries had been made, it would likely become apparent that the body cams provide ICE little to no value. If reporters had reviewed the findings of the pilot program, it would have been clear that the body cams are likely only going to create increased risks and costs.

The analysis below reviews the congressional push for ICE body cams, highlights research on the costs and benefits of body cams in the context of criminal law enforcement and contrasts it with use of body cams in the immigration enforcement context, reviews the RAND assessment of ICE’s pilot program, and outlines some of the provisions in ICE’s newly released body cam policy.

Body Cams Initiated by Anti-ICE Members of Congress. The entire effort to force ICE to use body cams was initiated at the beginning of the Biden administration by anti-ICE Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), who has called for ICE to be abolished and has referred to ICE officers as “hounds” on multiple occasions. The congressman is a former illegal alien, having overstayed a tourist visa in the 1960s with his family; they later obtained U.S. citizenship. His first bill would have prevented the construction of any border wall, barrier, or fences on federal land even in the case of a national emergency. His bill on body cams, the “ICE and CBP Body Camera Accountability Act”, formed the basis for the Biden administration’s body cam policy. Espaillat explained, “I am delighted to work with the Biden Administration to see provisions from my bill included in this newly issued guidance ... and now when the cameras are now on, we will be watching to ensure that the civil rights of our nation’s most vulnerable individuals and their families are not violated.”

The bill would require that body cams are “always on” throughout the entire duration of an officer’s shift, and that the footage is “made available to each party to any administrative proceeding, civil action, or criminal prosecution to which such footage pertains” and would require DHS to publish regulations to that effect. It seems that any and all immigration proceedings, from basic ICE removal efforts to actual litigation would see the release of body cam footage under this proposal. The bill contains serious penalties for ICE and CBP officers who forget to turn the cameras on or otherwise fail to record every moment of their day; in such instances, the officers “shall be subject to furlough, reduction in pay or grade, or a suspension of up to 30 days”. An obvious question is whether the Biden administration is working on similar regulatory language at this very moment, but no reporters at the ICE press conference thought to ask.

As Rep. Espaillat’s tweets below illustrate, he is motivated by a desire to abolish ICE:



In these tweets, he dehumanizes ICE officers and attempts to delegitimize ICE’s critical law enforcement mission:



Notably, in that last tweet, the congressman celebrated illegal alien Pablo Villavicencio, who was detained by military police at Fort Hamilton in New York in 2018 while attempting to deliver a pizza to the base. The Army ran his name as part of quick background check during the delivery, uncovered his active deportation order, and contacted ICE. Like the congressman, the open-borders media quickly came to Villavicencio’s defense, characterizing him as a “family man” and a ridiculous U.S. District Judge ordered Villavicencio’s release, referring to him as a “model citizen” despite his being a citizen of Ecuador, not the United States, and a fugitive who ignored an immigration judge’s ruling to return home.

Even the pizzeria that employed Villavicencio (and apparently engaged in various employment crimes, perhaps even tax evasion), decided to complain about the arrest. One wonders whether Nonna Delia’s in College Point is continuing to engage in unlawful hiring practices.

After all the outcries of support for “family man” Villavicencio, four months later he was arrested for alleged criminal mischief, accused of pushing his wife against a wall, slapping her, and grabbing her phone after she tried to call police. Quite the model citizen.

A similar bill to require ICE body cams was introduced at the beginning of the Trump administration by anti-ICE Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.). Just like with Espaillat’s bill, her bill went nowhere. And just like with Espaillat, the congresswoman has called for the abolishment of ICE:



Rep. Clarke was complaining about a six-week ICE operation that resulted in “more than 2,000 arrests” where “Roughly 85 percent of those arrested had criminal convictions or charges ranging from assault and sexual offenses to domestic abuse and robbery,” as explained by CBS News in the link the congresswoman included in her anti-ICE tweet. The goal of an advocate of ICE body cams is to help illegal aliens with a range of criminal convictions — including for sex assault and robbery — to remain in the United States where they can go on to cause more harm. In her announcement of her body cam bill, the congresswoman refers to illegal aliens as “undocumented Americans”.

Despite the fact that these anti-ICE legislators saw their bills garner next to no support, the pilot program for ICE body cams was slipped into the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which was signed on December 27, 2020. While the appropriations act itself doesn’t actually mention ICE body cams, it does contain a brief reference to a House Report 116-458 and directs that the report be complied with. Many people don’t consider reports to be binding law since they fall outside the language of a bill’s text. But some members of Congress use these reports as vehicles for sneaking in policies without having to put them through a full vetting. Here, a House report was effectively used to require ICE to carry out anti-ICE members’ body cam bills which, on their own, never became law.

That House report required ICE and DHS’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties office to “provide a joint briefing to the Committee that details the parameters of the forthcoming pilot; the metrics for success; a cost and workload analysis; activities and civil liberties concerns that may present challenges; how recorded footage would interface with Freedom of Information Act requirements; specific activities/operations where the use of body-worn cameras could compromise undercover criminal investigations; and activities where the use of body-worn cameras would be of particular benefit to the safety and wellbeing of officers, detainees, and the public”.

The point is that the entire ICE body cam effort has been pushed by anti-ICE legislators who dehumanize federal law enforcement and fully support foreigners breaking our laws and ignoring immigration judges. The concept was put into a House report, and that report was incorporated by one small reference into a massive appropriations bill.

Proponents of Body Cams Rely on Questionable Studies. Advocates of requiring ICE officers to wear the body cams have not articulated any rational reason for the program, though when it comes to law enforcement use of body cams, generally, the main alleged benefits are focused on complaints and use of force. Though there have been many attempts to quantify and evaluate the value of body cams in the context of criminal police work, the reports are not solid and the findings largely remain unresolved.

One NGO opposed to immigration enforcement notes that when Chicago police used body cams there was a reduction in racial disparities related to the dismissal of complaints. There’s no similar claim regarding ICE’s handling of complaints, so it’s hard to see the relevance here.

Citing other studies, the NGO also notes that body cams can reduce complaints against law enforcement. It’s possible that illegal aliens will launch fewer complaints against ICE when there’s video evidence that disproves their claims, but detained illegal aliens routinely lodge unsupported and unfounded claims against ICE officers through various complaint portals, as staffers in all DHS and ICE offices managing complaints from an “immigrant rights” perspective will admit. Would a small, non-descript camera attached to an officer’s vest reduce the number of frivolous complaints lodged?

As to use of force in the context of body cams, it’s fair to say that the research is ambiguous due to a number of factors that vary from one law enforcement agency to the next. For example, some agencies categorize the handcuffing an individual to be a use of force, while others do not. A recent study from the University of Chicago evaluated multiple existing reports on body cams and highlighted how most are unreliable; for example, the study noted that “one of the largest” randomized controlled trials on the effect of body cams in the use of force “winds up suffering from very large confidence intervals” because although the effect appeared good, it suffered from “a 95% confidence interval that allows for anything from large declines (-12%) to large increases (+30%)”. Many other studies suffered from similarly problematic confidence intervals, the study found.

Body camera studies involving local police likely have little value in the context of ICE enforcement.

These studies likely have little value in the context of ICE enforcement anyhow. All of the research on body cams involves local police and sheriff’s departments operating publicly in a criminal setting, which is often quite different from the enforcement of immigration laws by ICE officers, which is primarily a civil enforcement effort. A large portion of the work ICE does involves custody transfers from local law enforcement agencies to ICE officers and those transfers occur inside a jail. The other large portion of ICE’s work — detention management — occurs in a custody setting where there are ample opportunities for detainees to lodge complaints. Another portion of ICE enforcement occurs during at-large, public operations, and although this makes up a smaller portion of ICE’s enforcement activity, it’s the closest parallel to the police activity studied in these reports. Still, much of ICE’s at-large enforcement is relatively calm and straightforward and arguably less likely to result in use of force than what would be expected in a criminal investigation and operation run by local law enforcement.

Whether any of the research on body cams worn by police enforcing criminal statutes has any relevance for ICE’s enforcement of civil immigration laws is a question that appears not to have been asked.

Pilot Program Results Don’t Support Continued Use. ICE ran a pilot program with the body cams over the past year, and it turns out that the agency does have some answers on whether or not the body cams have had a positive impact on complaints and use of force. Notably, no reporters at the ICE press conference thought to ask whether the program was worthwhile. Instead, the reporters asked about how they or NGOs could get copies of the footage, which they likely assume will help them undermine ICE in some way.

According to an evaluation by the RAND Corporation titled “Independent Assessment of the ICE Body-Worn Camera Pilot Program”, there appears to be little value in the program for ICE or for the activists seeking to shutter the agency. The report found that “there were not significant reductions in uses of force or complaints observed for those wearing” the body cams. The research team “also did not observe significant increases in these outcomes”. In other words, the body cams had no discernable impact on ICE operations one way or the other, despite a significant increased cost to taxpayers and more work for ICE officers.

The ICE body cam pilot has shown no benefit but it has raised significant issues related to costs, public safety, enforcement, efficiency, technology, and management.

The independent assessment also found that “Uses of force and complaints occurred so rarely that it would have taken thousands of additional operations to be able to tell whether [body cam] use made a difference.” So why is ICE moving forward with rolling these cameras out to other cities when the pilot program found no justification for doing so?

It’s notable that Rand found uses of force were rare, because it speaks to the issue of linking local policework focusing on criminal enforcement with ICE’s federal work on civil violations of immigration law. I do wonder about the accuracy of the assessment on complaints occurring “so rarely”, however, because aliens in detention have many different ways of lodging a complaint and it’s easy to imagine that Rand had some difficulty in tracking all of them.

On the other hand, the independent assessment found that in “one notable case” the body cam footage helped ICE in disproving a safety allegation made against members of ICE agents of a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Response Team. Does that make the cameras worthwhile? Probably not because ICE and DHS already have an extensive process for reviewing complaints and it’s likely this phony complaint would have been dismissed through existing processes anyhow.

Pilot Program Reveals Significant Concerns. Though the pilot seemed to show body cams provided no serious benefits, there were significant concerns raised in this report. One concern is that the footage could be used to undermine ICE’s mission and threaten officers and public safety. The report explains:

Some personnel expressed high levels of concern that sensitive tactical or personally identifiable information could be made public, including to criminal organizations, through disclosure of video footage via legal discovery or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) processes.

ICE officials participating in the pilot argued that the body cams “should be discontinued” because of these concerns. Those officials provided their opinion before the report on the pilot was published, meaning that the officials didn’t even know that report would find no benefits from ICE using body cams.

In a rational world, a pilot program with no apparent benefits and significant risks would not be continued. But Congress will likely continue throwing money at the program and ICE will continue to spend that money on the program. At the least, ICE leadership should issue an immediate regulation that prohibits the release of body cam footage. One recommendation in the Rand report reads:

ICE needs to ensure that there are policies, procedures, and training provisions that protect against tactical and personally identifiable information being improperly released. These provisions need to include working with external partners who are receiving footage, such as U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, to ensure that footage revealing sensitive information is protected.

Another operational concern was raised by ICE officers attempting to take custody of illegal aliens. The report explained that “[T]here were concerns that, during requested home searches, notifying subjects of the need to record would lead to many denying access to their homes.” The obvious concern is that this process gives ICE officers more work to do, more processes to follow, and may directly upset an operation. The significance of this cannot be understated, and may itself be a reason anti-ICE activists are pushing the body cams in the first place.

Despite this serious concern, the Rand evaluation had no conclusion on the extent body cams might undermine ICE operations, explaining, “Given limited deployments of [body cams] to ERO units during the pilot, it was not possible to assess these concerns.” It would be a good idea for ICE to run its own analysis of the situation within the next year or so. The agency probably should have done so before agreeing to roll out the program to more cities.

Yet another concern about the use of body cams was the difficulty officers had attaching them to their existing gear and ensuring they were properly operating — which adds more complications to an already complicated law enforcement effort. As the Rand report noted:

The cameras were difficult to install on helmets initially, requiring some degree of jerry-rigging, because standard mounts were not usable.

The cord between the camera head (typically on the front of the helmet) and body (typically on the back of the helmet) frequently disconnected and was difficult to connect initially, leading to some instances of cameras disconnecting during training events or operations and then being unable to reconnect.

Because operators could no longer see the camera bodies (these were usually mounted on backs of helmets), it became difficult to operate functions or see whether the cameras were on or off; the HSOAC team observed SRT members with flexible cameras asking others to determine whether their cameras were on.

Officers wearing T-shirts or polos complained about, and we witnessed during trainings, [body cams] bouncing around in uncomfortable ways that also disrupted video footage.

The recommendations from Rand illustrate how under-developed and poorly thought out this endeavor has been:

We recommend that, if flexible cameras are procured, ICE work with vendors to (1) improve mounting options for helmets, (2) fix cord connection problems, and (3) improve the ease of using camera functions and determining whether the camera is on or off without having to ask another person. One suggestion was to have wireless connections; permitting the camera to be mounted on a helmet, on the shoulder, or over the ear; and the camera control body mounted to the front or in another location that is accessible. This would require having secure wireless connections that can receive chief information officer approval. Although this is a suggestion from the field, it might not be technologically feasible or currently available on the commercial market.

ICE should work with [body cam] providers to make available some form of harness, clip, or alternative form factor (such as over-ear or eyewear-mounted cameras) that can properly secure a [body cam] if an officer is wearing a T-shirt or polo; the standard clip mounts were not suitable.

Additionally, a number of technological issues were uncovered during the pilot, some of which are guaranteed to make ICE enforcement less efficient. ICE officers and agents explained that having to upload the daily footage often required them to drive hours at the end of each workday because the location of an operation, their home, and an upload site might be very distant depending on the ever-changing operations. Another issue was “extremely slow upload speeds (less than 1 MB per second at one site), meaning that uploads could take hours and risk being interrupted”.

These are significant issues that one would think should to be addressed before a program is rolled out nationally. One of Rand’s recommendations is that ICE should “make it possible for officers to upload and charge” the body cams from home — which raises all sorts of security issues (do we want federal law enforcement officials uploading sensitive material from home?), technological issues (does every ICE officer and agent have the systems necessary to do this?), and cost issues (should ICE officials be expected to use their own, personally-paid-for internet connection and should they count the time it takes to do this at home a billable hour?).

Rand also recommended that at the field office sites, “ICE should prepare to upgrade internet upload speeds at offices that lack high-speed internet connections.” What would this cost the taxpayer, and what is the benefit?

There are far too many additional unresolved issues raised in the Rand report to explore in detail here, but they include:

  • concerns about how the footage will be handled during joint operations with other federal agencies, which may have their own policies or concerns;
  • a lack of policy inside ICE on how the footage is to be managed, and whether the policies should be different for ERO and HSI;
  • questions on how the footage is to be stored and categorized and a lack of technological infrastructure for doing so;
  • concerns about whether ICE’s FOIA team has the ability to determine what must be blocked from disclosure;
  • concerns about a lack of policy on how the Department of Justice will protect the footage and avoid improper disclosure; and
  • the fact that there were “multiple points of confusion” on policy and practice about when to activate and deactivate body cams and under what circumstances the footage could be reviewed internally and by whom.

Bottom line, the ICE body cam pilot has shown no benefit but it has raised significant issues related to costs, public safety, enforcement, efficiency, technology, and management. And it was inspired by members of Congress who believe ICE should be abolished. Congress should consider whether or not to allow the Biden administration to continue with this controversial program.

New ICE Policy on Body Cams. After an inquiry from the Center for Immigration Studies, ICE published online its policy on use of body cams in March 2024. Under the “purpose” section, ICE claims that the body cams “may be beneficial to the execution of many of ICE’s operations and may also promote public trust; enhance service to the community by accurately documenting events, actions, conditions, and statements made by encountered individuals; and increase officer and public safety, accountability, and transparency”. Those are a lot of lofty purposes, and ICE notes they “may” be achieved, but the pilot didn’t give the agency any reason to believe they will be met.

These claims should have prompted reporters to ask a number of questions: How did the pilot show body cams may be beneficial to the execution of ICE’s operations? How did the pilot show they will increase officer safety? ICE leadership wouldn’t be able to answer them.

The policy outlines the type of activity that is required to be recorded with body cams, and it includes everything from at-large enforcement operations to ICE removal flights. Notably, the cameras are not to record aliens in ICE detention — even though this is where most complaints against ICE are lodged. Detained aliens have a lot of free time and many ways to file a complaint with different parts of ICE and DHS. Most of these complaints are minor and addressed quite quickly, and most of the larger complaints are determined to be without merit through existing evaluation processes. One would think that if body cams were meant to “accurately document events, actions, conditions, and statements” made by aliens, ICE wouldn’t be prohibiting their use in the most complaint-heavy location.

The policy even states that the body cams should be on during “unlawful/violent disturbances at ICE facilities” but explicitly excludes disturbances that occur “within ICE detention facilities”. In fact, violent disturbances do occur within ICE detention facilities, and questionable claims from aliens and their attorneys occur afterward. If there’s any moment where a body cam might be helpful in “accurately documenting events” and potentially “increase officer safety”, this would be it. So why the exemption? A reporter at the ICE press conference should have asked.

Under the ICE policy, officers are required to advise “individuals that they are being recorded as soon as practicable and safe to do so, unless doing so would jeopardize the safety of the ICE LEO or any other person”. It’s unclear how this would operate, in practice, particularly in a public setting where individuals may walk into the camera frame at any moment. Are ICE officers required to repeatedly announce a recording is underway to every person who passes them by? According to a report from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), “The mere knowledge that one is being recorded can help promote civility during police-citizen encounters. Police executives report that cameras improve both officer professionalism and the public’s behavior.” This may be true in a criminal context, but is there any evidence that this would be the case in an immigration enforcement setting? Again, the results from the pilot don’t support this position.

The same PERF report notes that officers should have the discretion to turn off the body cams during conversations with witnesses of crimes. The report explains:

Some witnesses and community members may be hesitant to come forward with information if they know their statements will be recorded They may fear retaliation, worry about their own privacy, or not feel comfortable sharing sensitive information on camera This hesitancy can undermine community policing efforts and make it more difficult for officers to collect important information.

The ICE policy doesn’t address this serious issue. Why is the Biden administration comfortable with a policy that may make it difficult for ICE officers and agents to collect important information?

The ICE policy also notes that officers “may not obfuscate when asked by an individual if he or she is being recorded”. Why not? Law enforcement — from local police to ICE — routinely use ruses as a means to facilitate law enforcement, and ruses require some element of misrepresentation or deception. There may be an instance where an ICE officer feels important information can be obtained only if the person with the information believes the body cam is not recording. But if ICE officers cannot briefly turn the body cam off, nor falsely claim that the body cam is off, then information may be lost, and there may be serious consequences as a result.

Quick release of body cam footage without context and missing details can lead to confusion and actually increase public distrust of law enforcement.

Another part of the ICE body cam policy requires expedited release of footage where there is serious bodily injury or death in custody. Specifically, it requires ICE to “expeditiously review the footage and, as soon as practicable, expedite the public release of such footage. Generally, this process should occur within 72 hours of recording of a Serious Bodily Injury or Death in Custody, or as soon as operationally feasible.” Compare this to the Department of Interior’s new policy that allows its officers 30 days to post such footage, with an opportunity for an extension. Why the lack of flexibility afforded to ICE?

A significant criticism of quick release of body cam footage is that such releases are usually without context, are usually missing details, and can lead to confusion and actually increase public distrust of law enforcement. In 2023, when the Biden administration was writing this policy, a Milwaukee judge blocked a body cam policy after a union representing Milwaukee Police Department officers sued the city, arguing that city officials violated the union’s collective bargaining agreement and blindsided its members with the policy. As explained by Courthouse News, the union’s lawyer:

cautioned that ‘video alone without explanation is dangerous,’ as body camera footage removed from context doesn’t actually portray what an officer is seeing or perceiving. ‘Really bad things can happen’ when false or incomplete narratives circulate before all the facts are known about a police shooting, he said.

ICE doesn’t seem to have taken this obvious concern into account when writing the agency’s body cam policy. However, it does note that “if there are specific and compelling circumstances justifying an objection to public release that cannot be resolved by redaction or other means, when determined by the ICE Director or his or her designee, ICE may withhold or indefinitely delay the release” of the footage. Perhaps ICE directors will use that provision to block the release of all body cam footage until the full context of an incident can be written out with all details, explanations, and justifications. That type of a process will take time, perhaps months, depending on the complications of the situation. Consider that ICE may take months to publicize all the details of a detainee death, for example.

The extent to which ICE body cam footage will be made available to illegal aliens and their attorneys is unclear, but many immigration attorneys are assuming that every illegal alien facing removal will have access to their arrest footage, which they seem to believe would enable them to prevent removal. This is an area where use of body cams by local police in a criminal setting is quite different from use of body cams in an immigration enforcement setting. For example, in a criminal setting, a defendant might find body cam footage useful in providing evidence that they are not guilty of some wrongdoing; one could imagine a scenario where a defendant facing charges of drawing a weapon on a cop could use the footage to show that the act never occurred. But in the immigration enforcement context, the availability of body cam footage is not going to change the fact that an illegal alien has overstayed a visa, or is ignoring a court order to return home, for example. The question remains: What is the value of ICE using body cameras while enforcing federal immigration statutes?

It is possible that violence may occur during an ICE operation, and fortunately violence has been rare. Still, there are plenty of instances where ICE officers have been harmed, perhaps the most notable example being in 2011 when ICE Special Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila were ambushed by Los Zetas drug cartel members while working in Mexico; Zapata was killed and Avila suffered life-threatening injuries. Perpetrators of that attack were successfully prosecuted without an ICE body cam program, but it’s possible body cams could have resulted in an easier prosecution. There are also instances where ICE has had to use force or threaten use of force, in carrying out its responsibilities and footage from body cams could be helpful in resolving any disputes that result. Limiting the release of ICE body cam footage to where there are disputes over use of force might be one way to address some concerns, but even still, such releases can be used to undermine the agency if issued without sufficient context.

Not Really Motivated by Transparency. The push for law enforcement body cams originated in an executive order signed by President Biden on May 25, 2021. Though the order claims the goal is to “promote transparency”, the Biden administration has proven to be very hostile to transparency, particularly in the context of immigration. At ICE alone, the Biden administration failed to publish the agency’s annual report by December during its first year — the first to do so in at least a decade — and only published it in March 2022 after public outcry (and still removed certain data sets from the report); stopped producing monthly reports on the successes of the 287(g) program; stopped producing reports on the ICE Health Services Corps; removed a media transparency policy from; shuttered a number of social media accounts aimed at public safety alerts on criminal aliens; shuttered an effort to provide transparency on labor issues related to foreign students; stopped reporting the list of top employers using ICE’s foreign student program Optional Practical Training; and has dramatically cut back on ICE press conferences.

In fact, the ICE press conference on body cams was one of only a handful of ICE press conferences since the Biden administration started over three years ago, and it lasted only 10 minutes.

If improving transparency and the functioning of government were the goal, why not put body cams on asylum officers in DHS?

If improving transparency and the functioning of government were the goal, why not put body cams on asylum officers in DHS? They are adjudicating the claims of many people gaining access to the United States, and many of those claims end up being phony, and others who are approved by asylum officers go on to commit violence against the American people. Isn’t it important to be able to review their decision-making in order to improve public safety?

As another example, why not put body cams on visa adjudicators at the State Department? Foreign Service Officers interview foreign nationals and make decisions about who should and shouldn’t be admitted into the United States. When they allow in a person who goes on to do harm, wouldn’t it be beneficial to be able to review the interview footage to see how the bad decision was rendered?

Transparency isn’t the real goal of the Biden administration, and as such, ICE leadership should be very cautious in how the footage is used and ensure there is solid justification for any public release.

Conclusion. Much of the push for police body cams comes from activists and NGOs that are hostile to law enforcement, and the push for ICE body cams is no exception, as noted by the fact that the effort was driven by anti-ICE members of Congress. That makes it difficult to believe that this effort will be used to promote ICE’s mission or benefit the agency in any way. More than likely, opponents of enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws will work to obtain context-free footage and then use it to craft a dramatized, negative message. ICE officials would be wise to invoke the limitations contained in ICE’s body cam policy and agree to the release of footage only when it can be accompanied with all relevant context.

Ultimately, when deciding whether to release body cam footage, ICE should first determine whether the release advances any of the purposes for which the policy officially exists, as defined in the ICE policy “purpose” section. ICE must ask whether a release of the footage is (1) “beneficial to the execution of many of ICE’s operations” or will “promote public trust”; (2) “enhance service to the community by accurately documenting events, actions, conditions, and statements made by encountered individuals”; or (3) “increase officer and public safety, accountability, and transparency.” If the release of body cam footage would not accomplish any of these purposes, ICE leadership should recognize that the agency does not have a rationale for releasing such footage.