WASHINGTON — As acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a sworn law enforcement officer, I am appalled and perplexed by the misinformation relayed in recent protests against law enforcement activity vital to this country and this community. These ignorant, inflammatory efforts to block enforcement of this nation’s criminal statutes by hardworking, patriotic Americans who live in the same communities they serve, stand only to put these communities — and the entire city of Portland — at risk. These protesters are advocating for dangerous criminals to roam our streets with impunity.

Born in response to the 9/11 terror attacks, ICE is comprised of Enforcement and Removal Operations and Homeland Security Investigations, as its operational components. Sixteen years later, ICE has proven unequivocally to be a professional, highly capable law enforcement organization with authority to enforce over 400 federal statues — significantly contributing to national security and public safety.

The dedicated workforce of ICE works closely with state and local law enforcement agencies, targeting the same criminal element. ICE conducts liaison with numerous stakeholders to encourage transparency and fact-based discussions about the agency, so that the public can fully understand our mission. The propagation of outrageous falsehoods against our workforce — many of whom are veterans, heroes long before they ever strapped on a badge — do a great disservice to the communities they purport to support.

In addition to the Jan. 3 protests in downtown Portland, a mock fence cage was displayed with a sign urging “No kids in cages.” This is a gross mischaracterization of our agency’s standards of care at well-run detention facilities nationwide, especially family facilities. To learn first-hand how these facilities run, visit ice.gov/detention-management and click on “Family Residential Centers” or search for “ICE Dilley Tours” and watch the videos from news outlets I personally led on tours.

Further, apart from the families, what you will see is not unique, as all individuals in our custody have access to medical care, legal representation, translation services and recreation, among others, while they exercise their full due process rights under the country’s immigration system.

This inaccurate, baseless rhetoric further ignores the agency’s efforts in New England, including the rescue of 70 child exploitation victims, since 2017.

These are the real kids in cages, victimized by heartless criminals who force them into prostitution and servitude, tragically leaving them with permanent mental and physical scars. And these kids are in addition to the 25 trafficking victims Homeland Security Investigations Portland rescued, conducting these investigations from office settings just like the one targeted in the misguided protests.

ICE targets criminals. Criminals like Vincent Graham. A known gang leader, Graham forced adult women from Maine to travel to New Hampshire and Massachusetts for prostitution and drug trafficking activities. In addition, these victims were beaten repeatedly.

Do you want him living in your community? Thanks to Homeland Security Investigations Portland, the Portland FBI and the Biddeford Police Department, he is now serving more than 26 years for his heinous crimes.

Just a few more of these thousand criminals removed from your communities include Huaien Liu, a criminal alien arrested by Enforcement and Removal Operations agents at the Cumberland County Jail in November, and Abdulkadir Mohamoud, who Enforcement and Removal Operations arrested in October, at the Maine State Probation Office in Lewiston. Liu was charged with gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact, unlawful sexual touching and assault. Mohamoud was convicted of unlawful sexual touching and two counts of reckless conduct and had been arrested by local law enforcement on multiple occasions for disorderly conduct, among other charges. These dangerous criminals are now being held in ICE custody pending removal proceedings rather than roaming freely in the community. The community is safer when law enforcement partners work together.

This is what ICE does every day. Last year, ICE again set records for criminal arrests, seized over 12,000 pounds of opioids, including 3,200 pounds of fentanyl, arrested 8,000 gang members and removed over 267,000 illegal aliens, including over 150,000 convicted criminals.

This is the real truth about ICE. This is the real truth about who we are.


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