Getting Alien Offenders Off the Streets

Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents in the field.

Three criminal justice majors were on the frontline of defense against dangerous aliens in the U.S. this fall during internships with the Houston Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office.

Logo for the Department of Homeland Security.U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and interns worked in Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which identifies, apprehends and removes illegal aliens from the country, including convicted criminals, fugitives and those that pose a threat to national security.

“They get exposure on what it is like to be a federal law enforcement officer,” said Matthew
Baker, Assistant Field Office Director of the Houston Office. “The internship provided an overall view of what the job is and what the agency is about. ICE is a little different than other federal agencies because it has a highly politicized mission.”

In Houston, ERO is set up in divisions, which include fugitives, criminal aliens, institutional removal, juveniles, prosecution and detention. Each Sam Houston State University intern was assigned to a different specialty.

Homeland Security agents arrest a suspected alien offender.

Kevin Walker worked in the Violent Criminal Alien Section, which handles prosecution of aliens for reentry after deportation. This division targets violent offenders who return to the U.S. after being deported on a felony conviction.

Walker reviewed and summarized case files to determine which cases were eligible for prosecution. When a case was identified, Walker would select certain immigration or criminal case documents to send to the assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas to help in the prosecution of the case. On occasion, he would call county jails to ensure an immigration hold was put on offenders to establish venue and statute of limitations.

“I learned a lot more about immigration law,” said Walker. “In the future, I would like to work in federal law enforcement, and immigration would be a good start due to everything I have learned here.”

Hands hanging out of a jail cell.Courtney Shaw worked at the Goree Unit at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, keeping track of inmates preparing for release. After learning the multiple forms needed in the process, Shaw assembled the paperwork that was used to make release decisions in each case involving illegal aliens.

“Before an illegal alien is released or put on parole, ICE needs to interview them to find out where they are from and where they are going,” said Shaw. “We have to get their birth certificates and all their court proceedings, including judgments and indictments, and prove they have committed a crime. There are rules for deporting someone, and there is paperwork for appeals. Some of them ask for asylum.”

ICE agent monitor operations in the office.Nickolas Richmond worked in the juvenile division, helping to prepare documents for illegal youth in the system, such as notices to appear in court or changes to facilities where juveniles are placed. In between cases, he got to talk to agents and his supervisor about their jobs and got tips on how to get into a federal career.

“They were very kind to me and made me feel like I was part of the team,” Richmond said. “Once the work was done, I asked them many, many questions. They gave me a lot more perspective on law enforcement, federal agencies and what to expect.”

The ICE internship are among the federal opportunities available through the College of Criminal Justice’s Internship Program. The internships are competitive, but provide valuable experiences to begin a career in criminal justice.

“The experience our students gain from our terrific relationship with ICE is outstanding,” said Dr. Jim Dozier, Internship Coordinator for the College of Criminal Justice. “I am very proud of our partnerships with federal, state, local, and private agencies. The students love their internship memories."

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