April 30, 2007, - 12:52 pm

Ultimate ICE Princess Failure: ICE to Lose Customs Authority . . . or to Return to Separate Customs?

By Debbie Schlussel
When the U.S. Customs Service was a separate entity, not only was it the oldest law enforcement agency in the U.S. government, but it was also the most successful. I was among the agency’s biggest cheerleaders, including in appearances on ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News.
Customs’ Office of Investigations seized more illegal drugs than the DEA, FBI, and Border Patrol combined. Operation Greenquest–overseen by current ICE Director of Investigations Marcy “Black Ass” Forman-Friedman a/k/a “Peppermint Patty”–was extremely successful in stopping terrorist financing and money-laundering and shutting down hawalas (Islamic money transfer schemes) and Islamic “charities” funding terror. The agency was also very successful in catching weapons smuggling by terrorists.

customsbadge.jpgicebadge.jpg

Unfortunately, 9/11 and Joe Lieberman led the formation of the Department of Homeland (non)Security, and George Bush–at the strongest moment in his presidency–willingly caved to this boondoggle. Customs was eliminated and its investigative agents were merged with those from the INS to form ICE–Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
With the creation of ICE, the FBI insisted upon the ending of Customs’ Operation Greenquest. Although, Peppermint Patty fought to keep it alive, then-DHS chief Tom Ridge signed a Memorandum of Understanding with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft shutting it down and transferring any and all terrorism investigations to the FBI. This is one of the reasons why Ashcroft is a fraud when he claims he tried to stop terrorism post-9/11. No, he simply tried to gain turf he didn’t need, thereby destroying the most successful terrorism investigations operation there was.
As we all know–and as I’ve written throughout the existence of this blog–ICE is a total failure. Two distinct, separate missions–immigration enforcement and customs enforcement–were smushed together into one smaller agency.
It’s kind of like sticking a man and a woman into one of their pairs underwear. It won’t work. And soon, the panties tear.
The other reason it is not working is that ICE has had one bad leader after another at the helm. First, there was Michael Garcia and Asa Hutchinson over him. Now, there is something far worse, the clueless Julie L. Myers a/k/a “The ICE Princess.”
Because she has failed so miserably to give direction and a sense of purpose to ICE agents and because she has failed to maintain strong immigration AND customs missions, ICE IS ABOUT TO LOSE ITS CUSTOMS MISSION.
Rumors have been swirling and and senior ICE agents have confirmed to me that ICE is busy answering questionnaires from DHS “leadership”–questions designed to take the ICE Customs investigations away from ICE and give it to the FBI, Secret Service, and/or another agency. While the Secret Service is good in this area, it’s not as good as the agents from the old Customs were. And the FBI is a total PC disaster.
Here are the details from one source, confirmed by several others:

It’s the start of a major turf war between the FBI and ICE that would dwarf the Greenquest take-over. In essence, DHS is said to be driving a new reorganization effort that involves transfers of ICE’s financial investigations responsibilities to the Secret Service, and it’s export enforcement responsibilities to the FBI. ICE would be left with Customs-related frauds and immigration offenses.
Last week, either the FBI or DHS–apparently the latter–sent various questions to ICE Headquarters to be answered related to these moves; among the questions was how many of ICE’s Special Agents have 4-year or higher college degrees (this question, in particular, led to quite a bit of consternation, since many legacy INS Special Agents apparently don’t have 4-yr degrees as this was not a requirement in INS). ICE HQ personnel are said to have worked all last weekend on answering these questions (this is why DHS was likely the agency asking; ICE would likely blow off an FBI inquiry).
It’s unclear if merely functions would transfer, as occurred in Greenquest; or if personnel would actually transfer (the question about 4 yr degrees would seem to indicate something is up on the personnel front).

Well, The ICE Princess, Julie Myers, has two degrees. But it hasn’t helped her understand or run law enforcement in the least.
And now, she is about to lose her agency’s Customs portion completely. Which begs the question: Why ICE? They could have just moved the INS to Homeland Security. That’s what ICE is . . . only a whole lot less effective and with “leadership” that is clueless about immigration enforcement (as their backgrounds were largely in Customs).
That Myers is about to lose a huge portion of her agency is evidence she’s been a failure of the worst kind.
***
Another theory is that Congress will finally do the right thing and split ICE back into Customs and Immigration again. One agent says:

The prevailing theory is that eventually Customs will get agents again. It has started already with IA [DS: Internal Affairs].

Hopefully that’s the case. We’ll see.

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50 Responses

There are BILLIONS of dollars being made on drugs, on a consistent basis, over decades. Gee, I wonder if the government is involved?

davidlanham on April 30, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Debbie, thank you for staying on top of this and keeping it in the public eye. Thank you for shining the light on the miserable failure that ICE is. Again as I have said before, The powers that be are forcing good former customs special agents to do immigration work that you could train a chimpanzee to do. Thay have taken 3000 plus customs agents and forced them to do the job immigration agents couldn’t do. The result is rock bottom morale and customs agents leaving in droves. I hope customs and immigration will split. But I fear it is to late to keep certain types of customs investgations tied to a Customs Agency. FBI smelled blood in the water afer the formation of ICE and took over Greenquest and are staedily pushing to take over illegal export investigations. I’m saddened to see a once proud agency slipping away into oblivion. “And the worms ate into his brain.”
TDYINHELL

tdyinhell on April 30, 2007 at 5:43 pm

I am really worn out with this stupid poisonous attitude by disgruntled former Customs agents many of which have diplomas from a Cracker Jacks box. When I was in the Army the Platoon Leaders came from Penn, Princeton, Yale and various prestigious military colleges. The U.S. Attorneys Office where I worked had graduates of Harvard and Stanford and the sons of Federal Judges and politicians. Some former Customs agents are delusional, ask any AUSA where I worked about who brought the most complete, ready for trial cases and they would tell you it sure as hell wasn’t the Customs Service. I have never seen more agents married to their cubicles than with the Legacy Customs crowd. And as for FBI, they didn’t even have email until last year. Debbie you do not know much about the Secret Service or you wouldn’t say they could manage the white criminal case load currently handled by ICE, or that they would give it the priority that it deserves with additional agents. I wouldn’t elaborate on this point for obvious national security reasons but trying to model a merger between Immigration and Customs works for Australia and many other countries in the world, but in those countries immigration agents are treated far better than they were in the U.S. where they counted only 1200 field agents transferred in the merger. 1988 was the largest and worse hiring of INS of agents, do the math and you can imagine where this problem is headed, mass retirement of which a few real stars are leaving a huge void. Illegal immigration was and always be about the money, the merger could have been the most anti-criminal venture in the history of the U.S. However, no insignificant amount of disgruntled agents were not up to the task. Shame on you, you’re not worthy of the job.

code7 on April 30, 2007 at 7:20 pm

I have never been inclined to leave a comment, but after the last two ICE articles and accompanying comments I feel I must speak out.
It no longer amazes me when articles appear in the various media about the lack of morale within ICE. What does amaze me is that NO ONE, except for columnists like you Debbie, notices or is willing to speak out. Numerous agents have written to numerous elected officials, but alas, nothing has ever been done. The ICEberg is left to crack and sink into total failure.
You cannot simply merge two agencies, then sit back and hope for the best. You cannot ignore problems and hope they will get better in time.
You article typifies that HQ management has no idea what they are doing. One of the first rules that your article highlights is that an agency NEVER GIVES AWAY an investigative authority or area!!!!! Yet, we seem to do it again and again.
People wonder why morale is low!!?? The answer is simple and staring everyone right in the face. I dont know what’s worse??, managements apparent failure to SEE the problem, or their failure to ADDRESS it.
Several years ago, we gave away GreenQuest (thank you Mr. Garcia and Mr. Doherty). ‘Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it’, coupled with ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’ says it all.
Media reports have indicated that narcotic prices are going down. Does anyone think that might have something to do with CBP concentrating on searching for WMDs and ICE failure to highlight drug investigations (Agents in HQ have confirmed that narcotic investigations are NO LONGER an investigative priority. Also, check the ICE website, no legacy Customs investigative areas are highlighted).
If you want to know what and where the problems are, go out and ask the field agents. Don’t ask HQ management, the ICE PR office or even upper management in local offices. They all drank the kool aid and are towing the company line. ICE is a victim of self imposed imploding, and no seems to care.
You wonder why agents are unhappy and morale is low? Here are a few reasons; agents are not doing the work they signed up for, agents are NOT properly trained to do the work they are being asked to do, lack of a clearly defined mission, total lack of communication between workers and managers, fear of reprisal for speaking out, no imput in agency direction, no clearly defined career paths…. and I could go on and on.
Now, to top it off…. HQ is considering GIVING away more of our authority.
It further amazes me that HQ does not realize what this lack of morale is doing to the work force. Some agents just don’t care anymore!!! This will surely be reflected in the work product that ICE produces. Agents not properly trained will surely result in more and more messes like the one you referred to in NY. Oh and by the way…. if its any consolation, most agents I know have lost respect for the upper manager in NY who has a relative in ICE HQ.
This goes straight to the heart of the matter, how can ICE be a respected law enforcement agency when we keep giving away our authority and have improperly trained agents roaming the field? Mass transfers won’t solve the problem.
And finally to the poster that slammed legacy Customs Agents, most Agents I know, on both sides of the fence are decent, hardworking men and women who want to make a difference. And my degree did NOT come out of a cracker jack box.
Debbie, please keep us informed. No one else is.

ICEDover on April 30, 2007 at 10:33 pm

Great posts today! The only question that I have is where the hell is the mainstream media when it comes to reporting this? Ditto to what Tdyinhell said, “thank you for keeping this in the public eye”. Now we need to see change as well as people held accountable.

OneIrishJew on April 30, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Debbie: The lesson learned with Customs, which should be drilled into every bureaucrat and politician for eternity, is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

theendisnear on May 1, 2007 at 2:14 am

Debbie, I am also tired with the shallow attitude expressed by disgruntled former Customs agents many of which are “street hires” (straight from college) with NO law enforcement experience or background when they were hired. The problem with this merger is that most of your legacy customs agents DO NOT want to work immigration investigative cases, process undocumented aliens and have to learn the Spanish language to do their job. At least the majority of the legacy immigration agents came from the border patrol with “field experience” in enforcing the Federal immigration laws. Another problem with the ICE merger is that the majority of the senior and field managers came from the Customs side (more Customs agents equals more Customs managers/supervisors). Unfortunately, legacy immigration supervisors are in the minority. That is another reason that morale is low. I also know several “good” customs agents, but it is obvious they would rather work more sexy narcotic cases, then chase undocumented aliens. Keep up the good work Debbie.

tecnico5 on May 1, 2007 at 2:27 am

Debbie,
Love your columns. The problem with ICE is neither the legacy Customs nor INS agents. Both sides have great, enforcement minded agents who just want to know what the mission is, have the support of their management, and have the wherewithall to accomplish the mission (namely, equipment and money in the budget). Right now, none of that exists. From no training for those agents who now find themselves in completely new assignments to being unsure if there’s money for more than one car wash a month or more than one oil change every 3,000 miles, agents’ morale is in the absolute toilet. Management does not explain anything to their troops. They do not ask their opinions and when an agent is intrepid enough to say a certain process does not work, that agent is spanked worse than an abused child. Agent to agent, legacy Customs and legacy INS and newbie ICE babies, will do as all cops have done in the past – they will pull together and support each other as best as they can. And speaking of money problems, an ICE wide email went out extolling the financial virtues of ICE. Seems ICE received some award for having such a stellar financial foundation. Guess since ICE hasn’t gone bankrupt yet, that’s a sign that it must be doing something right.
You asked what IA stands for. It is not International Affairs (but good guess, that’s what I thought at first). It stands for Internal Affairs. CBP has started their own internal affairs group as a step towards getting their own 1811 criminal investigators. Right now the IA agents are 1801s, but with all perks that a 1811 gets and at the GS-14 pay grade to boot. Traci Lembke and Julie Myers had their hands forced and have now made ICE OPR agents 14s, an upgrade from their 13s (but then again, Traci knows a thing or two about getting upgrades. She went from a supervisor level to SES in a matter of what? two years? How the hell did that happen?). Traci is saying that her agents will be doing primarily criminal cases and has gotten Citizenship and Immigration Services to fork over their internal investigations, but it will be interesting to see what DHS OIG’s opinion is on this, since they have the MOU that Ridge signed over way back when. Once CBP gets their 1811s, then watch out! All legacy Customs agents and probably a few legacy INS agents, will leave in droves.
Keep shining that light Debbie! The cockroaches are bound to come out sooner or later!

rivfedup on May 1, 2007 at 3:48 am

Boy, do the whinny-sniveling-malcontents (WSM) and foil-heads come out on your blog!
So a few people continue to scream about the old Customs mission, what drivel!
The fact is that even when we were Customs very few actually worked CUSTOMS work, it was tough to learn and most Customs Agents worked Dope and Financial and real Customs cases involving revenue losses, in-bond, textiles, steel and other trade based economic cases were few and far between. Seriously, how many successful Customs Agents who worked Customs Fraud were there? I’d venture it was less than 5 percent back then, maybe less now, actually knew Title 19, 26, and 31 in regards to trade and revenue. I’ll venture to say that those who are screaming the loudest probably were the ones who milked one or two cases over the span of a few years and really didn’t do a whole hell of a lot to contribute to the mission.
Times have changed, the traditional missions are still there, but it is going to take time to pull it all together. You WSMs need to go write your congressman, because we, the ones who are trying to pull through and build our agency are really sick of hearing it day after day. It is going to take some time to find our stride, quit trying to trip everyone else up. Don’t like immigration? Guess what, it’s a problem, and we are going to have to find a way to get a handle on it. We are going to have to try numerous things until we find out what works, because whatever we did in the past obviously didn’t. Quit whining about the past. For the vast majority who go to work everyday and put it all on the line, keep it up, you are the future of this organization and despite the naysayer’s are doing a damn good job; don’t let the WSMs get to you!

B Dover on May 1, 2007 at 11:56 am

Thank God that somebody with brains will come out and say what a complete mess this has become. I dont want to hear any former INS Agent talk about how good the were under INS. INS Agents brought the least amount of criminal cases into the U.S. Attorneys Offices. They didnt handly complex, long term investigations, that why they were never GS-13′S. ICE has become what the old INS was, a total failure. The only reason ICE gets any immigration work done is because of the former Customs Agents. Processing illegals is not work a criminal investigator should be doing. That work is reserved for non-1811′s. If this article rings true in the fact that our Customs missions go away, wait for the mass exodus of former Cutsoms Agents. But nobody wants to admit their mistakes in putting this sham agency together and now we seem to be stuck in the mud. Thanks alot to the U.S. Congress.

kcrat on May 1, 2007 at 1:05 pm

The igornance of the previous posting is astonishing!

code7 on May 1, 2007 at 7:07 pm

4 years…its been 4 years and still they cry. “The powers that be are forcing “good” former Customs Special Agents to do immigration work that you could train a chimpanzee to do”. So explain why these knuckle dragging Neanderthals haven’t adapted. I have managed to learn their oh so complicated Customs law (haha) and I’m one of those without a 4 year college degree. Do they honestly think that one piece of paper makes the difference between a “qualified” and “non-qualified” agent? Give me a break, I’ve seen more useful paper in a port-a-potty. TDYINHELL says “They have taken 3000 plus customs agents and forced them to do the job immigration agents couldn’t do”. And therein is the difference. You dont get to decide what laws you enforce. We were all sworn in to uphold the laws of the United States. Yes I thought I was going to do immigration law, but when they tasked me with doing the job customs agents couldn’t do I accepted it and continued working to fulfill my obligation. I hate the thought that any Special Agent would be “forced” to rescue these kids that are being forcibly smuggled into this country and trafficked as sex slaves. But hey TDYINHELL, Heaven forbid that a case of imposter Channel No.5 sneak into our economy. You go get ‘em. By the way, if Customs agents are “leaving in droves” someone explain to me why I still hear the “wah-wah” that permeates the walls of this office. Oh thats right, every where else requires that you put in more than a 4 hour work day. I agree that this agency has not been led by the best of….but we’d be alot further along if some of these cying LC’s would dry the tears, cut back on the 3 hour lunchs, double their case loads to maybe 2 concurrent cases and just do their jobs. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the ones doing all the griping are LC’s…well its not because immigration work is below them, its because its alot harder to confiscate those fake NIKE’s when they’re attached to a pair of running feet. (P.S. thats what the “big” pair of hand cuffs are for!) I’m sure those same people that are doing immigration cases and are still griping were quite shocked to find out that crime doesn’t end at 5 p.m. Ha ha…grab a cup a starbucks…its gonna be a long nite pinche migra!
4 years…its been 4 years and still they cry. KCRAT states “INS Agents brought the least amount of criminal cases into the U.S. Attorneys Offices. They didn’t handly (sic) complex, long term investigations, that (sic) why they were never GS-13′s.” “The only reason ICE gets any immigration work done is because of the former Customs Agents.” ha ha ha ha ha…tell me K-CRAP..er..kcrat…is that before or after a Legacy INS agent guides you through the computer systems. Is that before or after a LINS agent translates for you. Is that before or after a LINS explaines to you that the aliens reference to a “coyote” was not regarding a small Canis latrans native to western North America that is closely related to the American wolf?(Props to Websters Collegiate Dictionary.) KCRAT states “Processing illegals is not work a criminal investigator should be doing. That work is reserved for non-1811′s”. Well, I dont know where your at, but I can tell you this. Here in my office no-one “just” processes illegals. In fact, I know a few former Customs agents that were placed in groups dealing with Legacy INS missions, i.e. smuggling, sex trafficking, hostage rescue, and they have adjusted pretty well and are involved in (gasp) complex, long-term investigations. So maybe your office has you “just” processing aliens because your work quality is “non-1811″. Hmmm, just something to consider.
All that to get here…The only reason I’m even on this site is because I became aware of these hilarious postings thanks to some LC’s that are hanging on to their old badges, trying in vain to whittle them out of the acrylic casing in hopes of shining them up and pinning themselves as if they were going to a solo homecoming dance. Sure I got a kick out of reading the rants of those whose brains have been left to wander around like a derelict engaged in a game of silent musical chairs. It’s all so very funny.
I enjoy where I work, I enjoy the job I do, and I enjoy the people I work with, regardless of their legacy status. I do this job because I want to. If I didn’t want to, well, the door that let me in here swings out also. The immigration side of our job is not just processing illegal aliens. It includes investigations of sex trafficking, child sex abuse, human smuggling, hostage rescue, arrests of alien sex predators etc. If all your doing is processing illegals, well, see kcrat above. If this type of work is below you, well, see the door above.
I appreciate the work that is being accomplished by those of us that care. Those of us who are ICE agents. Those of us who work endless hours investigating and apprehending those involved in criminal activities, whether it be human smuggling, sex trafficking, drug smuggling, fraud, contraband, child exploitation, hostage rescue or any of the other many duties contained in our job description, and do it all without crying. Keep it going!
Finally, Debbie…you referred earlier to a “trusted Ice Agent friend” who was concerned about language missing on his ICE credentials which stated “This officer possesses Integrity and is worthy of trust and confidence.” No doubtedly he is also a legacy customs agent. Tell your friend that those of us that truly possess Integrity and are truly worthy of trust and confidence don’t need to read it to know it and believe it.
4 years…its been 4 years and still they cry

Finger9 on May 1, 2007 at 7:39 pm

All you “Legacy” Customs and INS folks are really legends in your own minds. From the local law enforcement perspective, you are BOTH pretty much freaking worthless in the grand scheme of life
The only people helping the cause in the new ICE, are the former Detention and Deportation officers.
The new ICE Fugitive Ops are kicking in doors and hooking aliens up. They’re screening and deporting jail and prison inmates. They’re getting scum of my steets. While you “investigators” are chatting online with a few potential child predators, there are thousands of fugitives aliens already wanted for child molestation that nobody else is looking for. Your top secret investigations are doing diddly squat to make our communities safe. You’re not worried about jurisdictions and missions, you all just want bigger budgets and the promotions that come with it.
Get with the damn program before those of us who actually work in real law enforcement go testify before congress as to how bad you’re screwing this country.

LocalLawman on May 1, 2007 at 8:37 pm

Hey LocalLawman,
Don’t you have an drunk illegal driver to release that you can’t make a case against? Maybe you need to sit on a speed trap for awhile and dream about how cool you with your overweight tub for a body and goatee that you think makes you look baaaaad…

code7 on May 1, 2007 at 9:28 pm

Debbie, As you can see this is a topic that really hits a nerve and again I must comment after reading the submitted posts.
Both legacy agencies have agents that work hard, late and long hours. Everyone also has to understand that it’s a ‘culture’ matter also. After spending over a dozen years working in one agency, being thrust into this debacle is quite a shell shock.
First off, the legacy Customs Agents I work with would not mind enforcing immigration laws. The problem arises from LACK of TRAINING!!!! Simply stated, trying to do something you are not adequately trained for can get you into trouble. Both legacy Customs and Immigration training academies lasted for several months. That’s because both involve complex laws, regulations and procedures. The “cross training” we were given in our office was pathetic and laughable. We received absolutely no training in INS data systems. Legacy INS agents in our office were more than willing to assist us when we effected an arrest and the defendant was an illegal alien. However, when word of this reached a legacy INS upper manager in our office (who is related to a legacy Customs HQ person, which makes the situation a bit bizarre), the legacy INS agents were told to stop assisting us. We also looked to have a legacy INS person placed in our group to guide us through and teach us the system. Again we were told this was not likely going to happen.
Second, I think we can all agree that immigration law needs some serious reform. Most agents think so, and even aliens of all status think so, as evidenced by todays “May Day” demonstrations. The only people that can’t seem to get on the ball is Congress. I agree that we enforce the laws that are on the books. But that should mean when an alien gets arrested (criminal or adminstrative), he or she is NOT let back out into society and is deported. That also means getting US Attorneys on board who are willing to aggressively pursue Immigration criminal violations. Again, without necessary parts of the equation, the whole thing is useless.
Third, we have yet to recieve any meaningful direction or support from HQ. There is no dialogue between workers and management. As an agency, we always seem to be justifying our actions to the press and local politicians. We seem to be ‘reactive’ instead of ‘proactive’.
Failure to address the sad state of affairs at ICE will only cause us to fall further into oblivion, which HQ seems content with. Morale will continue to plummet, people will continue to retire or transfer to other agencies.
Many people that are arrested for Customs violations are in this country illegally, and some illegal aliens do commit some pretty henious crimes. Oh, and for the record it is my opinion that if you are in this country illegally, that simple fact should make you ARRESTABLE on the SPOT!!!!!
I also believe that ICE and CBP should be merged before we seperate any further.
I think it was Ben Franklin who said, ‘if we don’t hang together, we will must assuredly hang seperately’.
Finally, someone better clean up this mess soon before every local law enforcement officer has the same opinion of ICE as LocalLawman. To be a federal law enforcement officer and have a local LE have that opinion of us should be embarrassing, especially to those who are allegedly leading us.

ICEDover on May 1, 2007 at 9:44 pm

Well, here’s my two cents …
First of all, despite all the misery and pain that this agency is, I STILL, 12-plus hours a day, 5, 6 and, sometimes, 7 days a week (and, often away from my wife and two beautiful children) DO MY JOB – WHY? NOT because I am deriving any great benefit from it, but because the American public deserves better than me sitting behind a desk all day, twiddling my thumbs and doing nothing.
That said, I am (and proudly at that) a legacy CUSTOMS agent. NO, I do NOT have a degree from a “Cracker Jack” box; I have a degree from the City University of New York system, and worked VERY, VERY hard to EARN it. I’ve been to THREE (YES, THREE) basic academies and TWO advanced schools; I’ve spent almost a WHOLE YEAR at FLETC in my 15+ year Federal career, so don’t tell me about “Cracker Jack” boxes or be so quick to question my credentials.
I was a legacy INS Inspector at a MAJOR Northeast airport, often working 90+ hour weeks at the beginning of my career, interdicting Pakistanis, Chinese and a host of other ethnicities who attempted entry into the U.S. I was also a legacy Customs Inspector at a MAJOR Southeastern airport/seaport. I spent THREE, VERY LONG YEARS on the legacy Customs Contraband Enforcement Team at the seaport, humping cargo containers 12, 14 and 16 hours a day, participating directly in the seizure of THOUSANDS of POUNDS of narcotics in that time. I was responsible for developing and implemnenting programs of NATIONAL scope for field-end users, and spent LOTS of time at HQ in Washington doing so. Believe me, I know PLENTY about border enforcement, and what works and what DOESN’T.
And, I’m telling you, the current arrangement DOES NOT WORK, and in the WORST way. From DAY ONE, there has been a lack of leadership and mission focus unlike anything I’ve EVER seen in my 15+ years. For YEARS, I knew, CLEARLY and WITHOUT QUESTION, what my mission was on a daily basis – INTERDICT CONTRABAND AND PROSECUTE THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR SMUGGLING IT ACROSS U.S. BORDERS. Whether it was drugs, money, weapons, child porn, you name it, it was ours to bust. Legacy Customs agents brought NUMEROUS prosecutions in these areas, more than the FBI, DEA, ATF and the other alphabet agencies combined. We were proud, focused and energized to do our job EVERYDAY, without politics or interference from non-law enforcement political hacks at HQ.
Now, and ever since the creation of DHS, it’s been nothing BUT politics and shifting focus. Today, it’s illegal aliens; tomorrow, its kiddie porn; no, wait, a year from now, it’ll be money or drugs. Oh, wait, I’m sorry, we gave that away to agencies who have demonstrated (does FBI ring a bell here?) they can’t handle border enforcement and the rigors associated with it; there’s nothing like a true border rat to ferret out the wheat from the chaff. What used to work seamlessly with inpections and an air/marine branch has been devastated to such a point that we step on each other’s cranks trying to duplicate effort. A job that used to encourage calculated risk now threatens to punish field agents for honest mistakes in pursuit of criminals.
Leadership? IT’S A JOKE. People who are leaders in the current ICE (DRO included) shouldn’t be in charge of dust mites, much less people; I know, I deal with their lazy, self-serving behinds all day, every day. It’s a wonder I accomplish anything at all by the time managers tell me why they can’t, won’t or shouldn’t do something, instead of telling me what they CAN do; they give me problems ALL DAY LONG, and nothing about solutions. It’s now all about dotting the “I”‘s and crossing the “T”‘s – STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE (just like the legacy INS I used to work for), rather than GETTING THE JOB DONE, and putting HARDCORE crooks (not an EWI family) in JAIL, where they belong, instead of protecting their political behinds from 0900 to 1700 Monday through Friday. They say the fish rots from the head down; well, if we accept that maxim, then ICE is rotten to the CORE, because from Chertoff to Myers to Forman and points beytond, they have ABSOLUTELY FAILED to provide leadership, guidance and, most of all, support for agents under their command; if they had ANY sense of decency, they’d submit their resignations FORTHWITH, and leave the job of border enforcement to PROFESSIONAL ADULTS instead of blabbering children who have no sense of administrative direction or moral compass.
Therefore, I have said my piece, and I don’t give a rat’s behind as to who likes it or doesn’t. Because, until they can accomplish what I have in my career (100+ seizures in 10 years as a Customs Inspector and 40+ criminal cases in 5 years as an agent to date), they can go take a long walk off a short pier, if they even know where to find one.

4EVERCUSTOMS on May 1, 2007 at 9:45 pm

I wanted to take a second from polishing up my resume on http://www.careerbuilder.com to say “AMEN 4EVER”!!!!

ICEAGENT on May 1, 2007 at 10:34 pm

What a mess. I am also tired of the “whining” by both legacy agents- but who can blame them. We were never consulted and that is unfortunate. I agree with those who posted that both legacy agencies have hard workers- I also know that both have slugs. I am a former Border Patrol Agent who was tired of the lax immigration enforcement policies forced on us. I eventually left and got hired by Customs as an Agent. As a BPA , I was detailed to both Customs and DEA. I eventually got hired as a Customs Agent. This was great until we merged. In my office I am fortunate enough to work in a group that is comprised of both legacy agencies. We work dope and money laundering. We are responsible for handling all of our immigration cases that stem from our investigations. I admit it was rough in the beginning- but our group produces. Legacy agents from both sides of the fence have adapted nicely.
I am fortunate enough to have had exposure to both legacy agencies prior to the merger and here is my two cents.
Firstoff- INS was abolished after 9/11 and cut up into little pieces. INS was abolished but not investigations. Unfortunately the majority of investigations performed were not of the criminal nature, but were adminstrative. This is not the Agents fault- it was managements. Proof of this is simple. INS had no case management system. The G-166 or newer g-170 is the only investigative form used. I don’t consider enforce a case management system. Unless they were assigned to DEA, anti-smuggling Unit or in an OCDETF position, they had little or no exposure to working criminal investigations. They never requested Pen registers or even knew what they were. Also we shouldn’t confuse that arresting a criminal alien at a roundup or raid is not a criminal investigation- there is an investiagation- but it is more like a “locate”. Kinda like the marshal’s service. (Which I might add may be a good place for local lawman to get detailed to after the Fug Op team- oh by the way Farva- if you make detective and investigate stuff -you will understand this debate, until then go back to checking the Galls online catalogue and stay out of it.) This was another fault of their management.Legacy INS agents rarely had to deal with issues of discovery and most of them needed this process explained. This is because the MAJORITY of their work was not case work of a criminal nature – but more so of an admistrative nature. Worksite enforcement cases were rarely accepted for criminal prosecution. Again, not the agents fault – more so the AUSA’s fault who didn’t deem those cases “sexy”. INS was more of a process orientated agency- cleaning up aliens coming out of incarceration.
USCS-
Cases is what drove this agency. Cases and stats. The whole TECS/Seacats system is based on casework. I do not agree to the poster that a majority of the USCS agents didn’t work many fraud cases or other non sexy cases – I do beleive many didn’t get prosecuted in title 19 and title 26 as for title 31 – you don’t know what oyour talking about. For 19 and 26-Just like worksite enforcement. This fall’s on the US attorney’s office. Furthermore- I blame upper management for allowing
I also remember pre merger, USCS did had their issues- and were relentless in screwing their agents over especially on the border. Also an interior agent could getaway with doing nada for years with no repercussions
Hey code 7 good point about 1988. Unfortunately I am still pissed at the crackerjack comment- LOL-actually I could give a rats ass about someones transcript or lack of. My College did not teach me how to work cases- that knowledge came from working with real investigators and real detectives. Also I might add ICE’s upper management has impressive degrees from the finest schools and look what thats getting us.
ICE has no clear mission. When decribing it’s role to the world ICE pours syrup on sh*t and calls it a pancake.
Either way we all have new job description and wether you are working legacy Immigration duties or legacy Customs duties or both- stop whining – we make a lot of money to do those duties.; If you want to make changes happen – promote- all of our management from both sides are leaving- promote and start making a difference – or leave and stop whining.

RoloTomasi on May 1, 2007 at 11:09 pm

And don’t forget that another reason for low morale are the managers being promoted that have never had any criminal prosecutions under their belt, or a very low number of them. They are just kids in charge in SAC/LA and other SAC offices. And the farce of job announcements. Positions are announced that legacy Customs HQ has already decided on who will get the jobs and it sure as hell aint legacy INSers who will get picked.

SDGOICE on May 2, 2007 at 2:45 am

Two months after this crap agency was created, a legacy INS Agent stated to me: “Us INS Agents have just won the lottery, and you Customs guys have just caught cancer.” I have never forgot those words over the last couple of years. He told me that within a year of the merger that INS would ruin this agency. Boy was he right! I dont want to hear another INS halfass Agent tell me how great they were and how mediocre Customs was. We always graded out very high in the governments annual ratings. I can tell you that in the last year before the merger, Customs Agents (South Florida)arrested, and prosecuted (guilty) more people than the FBI, DEA, and Secret Service combined. Oh, guess who was last on that list,,,, you guessed it, INS….Im sick of the INS pukes talking a big game when all they did was stand on the sidelines and watch the big boys play…

kcrat on May 2, 2007 at 5:41 pm

A moment of silence for all those legacy Customs Agents who can no longer chase those counterfeit rubiks cubes.

icehaha on May 2, 2007 at 7:34 pm

Your experience in any agency depends on which office, at what time, with which management, and in which decade. I don’t know where kcrat pulled his figures from, probably his butt since he only has five years as an investigator and knows everything. The LA Times took its figures directly from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The INS had the highest conviction rate in California, %75 percent, the lowest was the FBI who lost %75 percent of its cases (I guess after someone robs 50 banks, they still can’t get a conviction). 93% of all cases brought from all of the agencies pleaded before trial, that figure came directly from the top. So stop watching TV- KYRAT.
I was happy to work with the Customs agents and sympathized with how times had changed for them. But at some point it reminds me of the guy who was a star on his high school football team and despite being short and bald thinks he still has what it takes to lord over whom he believes are his fellow classmates- talking about how good things were back on the block.
Sorry to burst you bubble bub, but you ain’t all that brother, you’re miserable to work with and be around. Grow-up do something with your life. You have angry whiteman’s disease and you’re still wet behind the ears.

code7 on May 2, 2007 at 8:35 pm

“A moment of silence for all those legacy Customs Agents who can no longer chase those counterfeit rubiks cubes”.
THIS COMMENT SHOWS THE UTTER IGNORANCE OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK, IN THEIR UNINFORMED MINDS, WHAT ICE AGENTS REALLY DO ALL DAY.
I WORK IN A MAJOR SAC OFFICE – 24 GROUPS (AND, THAT DOESN’T INCLUDE THE 5 ADDITIONAL RAC OFFICES UNDER OUR JURISDICTION, EACH WITH THEIR OWN UNIQUE SET OF ENFORCEMENT ISSUES). SO, LET ME BREAK IT DOWN FOR YOU …
1 SEAPORT GROUP (CERTIFIED U/C OP – FOCUS: ORGANIZED CRIME ON WATERFRONT)
1 MARINE/SMALL VESSEL GROUP
1 MARINE TASK FORCE GROUP (HIDTA (THAT’S HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICK AREA, MY FRIEND) – FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL)
3 AIRPORT RESPONSE GROUPS (NARCOTICS/DOC FRAUD)
1 AIRPORT CURRENCY RESPONSE GROUP
1 AIRPORT CARGO CONSPIRACY GROUP (CERTIFIED U/C OP – FOCUS: CORRUPT AIRLINE WORKERS)
1 AIRPORT PASSENGER CONSPIRACY GROUP
1 GENERAL AVIATION GROUP (ALSO DOES HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN OUTSKIRTS OF SAC AOR)
1 HUMAN TRAFFICKING GROUP (CERTIFIED U/C OP FOCUSING ON VARIOUS ETHNIC ORGANIZATIONS)
4 LONG TERM INVESTIGATION FINANCIAL GROUPS (2 HIDTA GROUPS HAVING CERTIFIED U/C OPS – ONE FOCUSING ON COLOMBIAN DRUG TRAFFICKING AND ONE FOCUSING ON USE OF FINANCIAL MARKETS FOR MONEY LAUNDERING)
1 CYBER GROUP (KIDDIE PORN AND CYBER CRIME)
1 ASSET FORFEITURE GROUP (SEIZING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN ILLICIT PROCEEDS)
1 JTTF GROUP (WITH FBI AND OTHER FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL ENTITIES)
1 VIOLENT GANG SUPRESSION GROUP (HIDTA)
1 CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION GROUP (FEDERAL/STATE/LOCAL TASK FORCE)
1 IDENTITY AND BENEFIT FRAUD GROUP
1 GENERAL INTERIOR ENFORCEMENT GROUP
1 STRATEGIC (WEAPONS) GROUP (CERTIFIED U/C OP)
AND, FINALLY, YES, YOU’VE GUESSED IT (IN THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR LEGENDARY MIND) …
1, YES, ONLY 1 COMMERCIAL FRAUD GROUP (WITH A CERTIFIED U/C OP FOCUSING ON RUBIK’S CUBES, PIRATED MUSIC, COUNTERFEIT GOODS, TAINTED FOOD AND WHATEVER ELSE FALLS IN THIS CATEGORY).
SO, OUT OF THE 200 OR SO AGENTS ASSIGNED TO MY MAIN SAC OFFICE, ONLY 6 0R 7, YES, A WHOPPING 4%, ARE DEDICATED TO “CHASING” RUBIK’S CUBES, WHILE THE REST ARE SUPRESSING DRUGS, MONEY, WEAPONS, KIDDIE PORN, TERRORISM AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING WITH CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS, NOT JUST “BAG AND TAG” ADMIN ARRESTS.
SO, ICEHAHA, AGAIN, IF YOU CAN FIND THE SHORT PIER, WHY DON’T YOU TAKE THE SHORT WALK FOR A NICE, REFRESHING DIP IN THE WATERS OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING, INSTEAD OF BALBBERING OUT OF IGNORANCE. AND, WHILE YOUR AT IT, WHT DON’T YOU COME DOWN TO MY NECK OF THE WOODS – SOUTHERN TIER, MY FRIEND – AND I’LL SHOW YOU THAT THERE’S PLENTY OF WORK TO BE DONE ON ALL FRONTS ON A DAILY BASIS; WE COULD SURE USE THE HELP, EVEN FROM A BLOWHARD LIKE YOU.

4EVERCUSTOMS on May 2, 2007 at 9:01 pm

You people really think your government wants to stop illegals? You think they want to stop drugs? Who do you think is making all the billions off of both? It ain’t a bunch of illiterate gangsters, it’s your bosses in Washington and in Corporate America.

davidlanham on May 3, 2007 at 1:08 am

But tell me, 4EVERCUSTOMS, how come I have never heard of any prosecutions by any of those groups in the newspapers?

SDGOICE on May 3, 2007 at 1:28 am

“The LA Times took its figures directly from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The INS had the highest conviction rate in California, %75 percent, the lowest was the FBI who lost %75 percent of its cases” I beleive these are true stats.
Now ICEHAHA lets be honest- criminal reentry cases are not investigations – they are ACAP.Some other agency catches them and then ICE gets called to place a detainer. The AUSA’s office love them and get new AUSA’s hired because they are slam dunks- even better than slam dunks- these don’t go to trial.Sure they are a stat- but thats it . The only reason they are a stat is because they were administratively removed in the first place and came back a week later. So if you want to compare numbers -please compare with REAL arrests and criminal convictions stemming from REAL cases INS had-like alien smuggling, manufacturing of fake documents, whatever.I have a question have you ever been on the witness stand buddy. I do not mean in a civil or adminstrative case- I mean in big boy Federal Court. What for? I’m curious. I bet your the dude that looks at the ICE Most wanted web site and actually beleived that the illegals posted without any warrants and are “wanted” for Adminstrative Removal should share the space with Cartel kingpins, Kiddie Pornographers and Large scale money launderers. I don’t. That website is a perfect example of how the ICE merger went out of it’s way to make INS fit in. Now ICEHAHA before you get real angry remember my previous post- I listed my background and I am truly from both sides. I know how INS functioned – I remember the Doris Years.
This is what I know. I hate being referred to as an Immigration Agent.I am not one. It embarrasses me because of how I perceived INV when i was in the Patrol. I do beleive the INS structure was a failure and that is why INS stood for I’m Not Staying. But , I can tell you this – every legacy INS agent in my office agrees the Agency was screwed- but they liked their job.But I don’t hear any of them talking about the glory days of INS like you. My ASAC is a legacy INS guy- he talks like you do- he lists the agency’s accomplishments and refuses to admit it’s failures. My GS is legacy INS too- He’s one of the best bosses I’ve ever had and he is the first to admit that you can’t compare the agencies because they had different priorities. This is true. I’m all for patting yourself on the back. You probally work hard and deserve it – but a word of advice. Don’t lie to yourself.

RoloTomasi on May 3, 2007 at 1:38 am

My bad I meant Code 7 not ICE Haha

RoloTomasi on May 3, 2007 at 1:40 am

“But tell me, 4EVERCUSTOMS, how come I have never heard of any prosecutions by any of those groups in the newspapers?”
BECAUSE OUR PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIVISION USED TO BE A LOT BETTER THAN IT IS TODAY, AND USED TO FOCUS ON THE CRIMINAL, NOT ADMINISTRATIVE, ASPECTS OF OI. NOW, TO SATISFY THE POLITICAL BANTER REGARDING IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT (WHICH IS ALL MIKE GARCIA AND JULIE MYERS EVER WANTED, ANYWAY), NEWS OF ANYTHING RELATED CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT HAS ALL BUT BEEN SHOVED OFF THE CLIFF, AND TO OUR DETRIMENT, BECAUSE NOW ALL THE PUBLIC THINKS ABOUT IS IMMIGRATION, NOT CUSTOMS, ENFORCEMENT.
REMEMBER WHAT OUR NAME IS (IMMIGRATION IS FIRST)- IT WASN’T BY ACCIDENT THAT MIKE AND JULIE MADE AND KEPT IT THAT WAY. THEREFORE, PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER WHERE THE EMPHASIS IS AND ASSOCIATE ACCORDINGLY.

4EVERCUSTOMS on May 3, 2007 at 6:45 am

RoloTamasi- You seem pretty reasonable, just because I defend the work INS agents have done does not mean that ther’re were “glory days” , hardly, it was hell. However, it was what you made of it. You churned your bread and butter, prosecuting violent felons with re-entry cases so that they wouldn’t victimize some innocent person. There were no flashy newspaper stories, no visible Public Affairs, they got fired the first time they said anything to the press, so the press made up our part, if at all.
I wish the re-entry cases were so easy, we got sued, the cases went on appeal to 9th Circuit, they were so time consuming and there were so many of them you had trouble keeping up with all of the smuggling, document, trafficking and other more complex cases. The whole time you fought with management, or they fought with their management, the AUSAs would pull a chair out for the FBI but give you a look like “you again!” Nope, INS cases weren’t the ones the AUSAs were happy to see. Stats?
What’s that, no one cared about stats. We did have a case management system CIRS (very fancy), my first report wasn’t read and cleared six months after I sent it so I guess our office wasn’t on-board.
When a former INS agents brings up “talking parrots” or “counterfeit Rubix Cubes” it is with tongue-in-cheek. WIth hundreds of new agents coming into ICE Investigations there has to be a stop to such venomous attacks on immigration work.
Los Angeles City, not the county, not the un-incorporated areas, not the surrounding counties, has four million people (LA TImes May 2, 07) Some neighborhoods are 60% illegal and a huge chunck of the rest greencard holders. California is the 7th or 8th largest GNP in the world by itself. If anyone thinks that immigration issues do not have a nexus to nearly all U.S. criminal investigations, they are uniformed. Title 8 can be an effective tool to break your cases, you can arrest just about anyone these days, offer residence to informants, witnesses, sources. Some of the best INS agents left or were promoted and the ones that stayed had to get beaten down because they haven’t finished night school or some brat who never had a private sector job, had the benefit of his parents money thinks they don’t deserve a higher pay grade? Please, it has been four years KCRAT and EVERCUSTOMS need to stop behaving like Fraternity boys at Snob U.
And 4EVERCUSTOMS- don’t ever trash our Public Affairs Office, they are better at what they do than any agency I’ve ever seen.

code7 on May 3, 2007 at 10:06 am

“And 4EVERCUSTOMS- don’t ever trash our Public Affairs Office, they are better at what they do than any agency I’ve ever seen”.
First of all, I’ll say whatever I please as long as I feel it’s the truth. Per my previous posting, given my 15 + years of border enforcement experience, I’ll be damned if I apologize to ANYONE for this abortion of an agency and mission.
If you look at the ICE Clips sections sent every day to the field, all it’s largely about now is the immigration mission, and little if anything about customs work; the press releases are pretty standard and toe the HQ party line. I remember when my office’s legacy Customs PAO was on T.V. almost every other day, and REALLY, REALLY working ALL media angles (newspapers, T.V., radio and documentaries) to ensure that word of Customs and its mission got out quickly, and to as wide an audience as possible.
Maybe the current PAOs are rocket scientists to you since you are legacy INS, and you never got as much attention as you do now. But, for me, they SUCK, and do so HALF-ASSED, at that. Mediocrity has now become the standard of excellence, and people expect the legacy Customs agents to roll over and expire. Well, my friend, it will be over my dead body and a cold day in hell before I stop telling it like it is to as many people as I can about what a failure and a disaster we are. Per the previous poster, his friend was absolutely right: ” The INS hit the lottery (en masse promotions with no college degrees required, and many without CITP school), while Customs got cancer (diluted credentials with double the work at the same rate of pay).
You all should kiss G-d’s behind at night that you got what you did, because, if you remember what former Commissioner (Customs, then CBP)Bonner said at the first SAC conference after the merger when asked about re-merging OI and Field Ops (i.e. Inspectors), he said: “Yeah, I’ll take back the agents – the CUSTOMS trained ones, that is”. Obviously, he knew the caliber of agents he had in Customs compared to legacy INS, and wanted nothing to do with diluting the pool of college-educated criminal investigators who did 19-1/2 weeks at CITP and CBES.
Puh-leeze, someone pass me the vomit bag …

4EVERCUSTOMS on May 3, 2007 at 11:18 am

Debbie-
As you can see, this article has provoked postings that unfortunately have nothing to do with your comments. I think anyone who has a brain will agree that the creation of DHS along with ICE was a knee jerk reaction that served only to benefit the politicians that were steering that trainwreck. The real issue isn’t which legacy agency did what and who made more stats and who looked better in the newspapers, etc, etc. It is though what Congress is not doing to address the problem that was created by greedy fame seeking politicians.
Now, ICE has to look over their shoulders on a daily basis to watch for vulchers who see a wounded deer and want more authority than they know what to do with or more importantly, how to properly execute that authority that they so greedily want. Just look at what has happened to Operation Greenquest now that it has been in the hands of the FBI. Absolutely nothing, and the same will ring true if export investigations go over to DOJ.
The biggest issue at hand is that Immigration and Customs investigations do not belong together in an investigative arena, contrary to what one blogger posted earlier, quoting that it works for other countries, why can’t it work here? It works maybe from an inspection aspect at a port of entry but not from an investigative view. INS investigations had nothing to do with Customs investigations and vice a versa. They could support one another with information, but then again so could FBI, ATF, Secret Service, Postal Inspection, Etc., does that mean that all those agencies should also be merged? May another agency never suffer the debacle that has occured with the merger of INS/Customs.
This thing is a level 5 FUBAR. Can you imagine the look on the face of a pedaphile when “ICE” serves a search warrant for kiddie porn and the first thing they read is “Immigration.” First words ought to be, “what the hell does immigration have to do with child pornography.” How about a search warrant being served on a business or person involved in money laundering? Once again, the first thing these people see in the credentials is “Immigration.” What does immigration have to do with money laundering? How about a drug case, a strategic case, steel labeled as aluminum at a seaport? Most ICE agents will probably say they can’t recall this happening to them and I’ll say it’s either because you flashed you credentials too fast at the perp OR you don’t recall this happening because you have been too busy answering the call of HQ, chasing down illegals at a worksite, responding to State/locals who just pulled over a van or tractor trailer full of illegals or trying to run down absconders who never showed up after being given a notice to appear. All of this coming at the direction of HQ after being hounded constantly by State politicians who are tired of their state funds being dwindled away by illegals.
Immigration control is a problem, more in some states than in others. BUT, you do not cripple one agency and their investigative authority to accomplish another task. Immigration needed tougher laws, more agents and a management overhaul in their legacy HQ. The answer was not to merge with another agency.
Customs enforced very important laws dealing with everything from the importation of narcotics to child pornography, exporting weapons and technology, money laundering, false invoicing on banned products arriving from foreign, etc. These investigations and laws are vital to the security of the United States. But, I guess like immigration, the politicians will start worrying about them when things are already out of control.
What needs to be explored here is the possibility of creating a Border Security Agency (to handle INS issues) and allowing it to stand alone within DHS like the Secret Service, their own entity. Transferring agents back to CBP so that they can get back to doing what they know and were trained to do.
I AGREE WITH YOUR COMMENTS, GMAN–WHICH I ENJOYED READING. IN ADDITION TO INS GETTING ITS OWN AGENCY BACK, I ALSO THINK THAT CUSTOMS SHOULD GO BACK TO BEING CUSTOMS. FEEL FREE TO E-MAIL ME, ANY TIME.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

GMAN on May 3, 2007 at 6:51 pm

I really reflected on these posts, and wanted to share my final thoughts here …
First of all, I will NOT say that some, yea, many of the legacy INS agents that I now work with are bad people or bad agents, because they are not. In fact, they are some of the best and hardest working people I have worked with, and I am glad to know them.
That said, given the overall CULTURE of legacy INS, if I wanted to be a legacy INS agent, I would have applied for the job 15 years ago. I didn’t, because I didn’t want any part of the culture I experienced in INS inspections.
In order to get the job as a legacy Customs agent, I HAD to get a college degree; this was a requirement per the vacancy announcements. Because I was married and with a young child, I had to struggle my last semester of college, and my family made a LOT of sacrifices to see me through that period of my life. I also had to wait another EIGHT years after that, because being a legacy Customs agent was a job that people simply did not leave – they loved it too much to go, and many had to be dragged out kicking and screaming at age 57.
My family also sacrificed in seeing me through THREE academies, including 16 weeks at FLETC in 2002 when I had not one child at that point, but two, and my wife had to handle it all by herself for 4 months. Legacy Customs didn’t want to hear that I had already been to two academies, and was a Customs Inspector for 10 years – being a Special Agent was a whole new ball game, and they were going to ensure I was up to the task. By the way, the sacrifies my family made (e.g. the academies, the long job hours, the travel, interrupted family time, etc.) almost cost me a 20 year marriage, and continuing serious psychological health issues of my children that my wife and I are still dealing with today.
Now comes 2003 and the merger – legacy INS agents, many with NO college time WHATSOEVER and NO formal training as criminal investigators now coem into ICE and are literally handed GS-13 salaries – the same salary that I had to go to a four year school and a 16 week training course to get. Worse yet, GS-13 supervisors got GS-14s, GS-14s got GS-15 ASAC positions, and so on. So, not only were my credentials watered down and I inherited a thankless mission for double the work at the same pay, but my future promotability was watered down as well, because there were too many supervisors and too few agents to supervise after the merger.
In addition, my future marketability was shot – Really, who in the private sector wants to hire a legacy immigration agent after retirement? Not many, from what I hear. As for retired legacy Customs agents, after the FBI and the Secret Service, being a retired legacy Customs agent was a surefire shot at a GREAT second career in the private sector – nice payback for the sacrifices made by me and my family over the years. Now, quite frankly, I’m not sure what my future marketability is, and it’s very painful to think about it.
Go to another agency you say? Well, it’s not like the government offered me a choice of going to, let’s say, the FBI when this merger took place. I and my colleagues got shotgunned into this “marriage”, and, for many, their dream job has turned out to be a nightmare. At age 40+, where am I, and many like me, going to go? We are too old to go to yet ANOTHER academy, but too young to retire. We have bills to pay and families to support – we just can’t quit our jobs, unless we want to go bankrupt and drag our families down with us.
In the final analysis, this whole sad affair can be likened to a marriage where you put all of your love, energy, talent and drive in to making the relationship work and having a happy life; furthermore, you spend years, perhaps a quarter of your life doing so. One day, your spouse decides to chage the rules: the “Dear John” letter is on the pillow, the spouse is gone, and you’re left holding the bag. Later on, in a lopsided divorce proceeding, you get kicked out of your own house and home – the one you spent years putting your time and effort into, and get slammed for alimony and child support. Now, at age 40 +, you want to try to move on, but it’s hard to do – noone wants to date a middle-aged man with loads of baggage coming into the relationship. Sucks, huh?
Now, can you understand why so many legacy Customs agents are sad and bitter? If you were in our shoes, you might feel the same way, too. It’s not that we aren’t or won’t do our duty, but I think it’s pretty unrealistic to think that we are just going to stand silently by while the train of incompetence and ineptitude steamrolls over us. And, as for family, I will make NO further sacrifies nor expect my family to make sacrifies for an entity that does not value its employees, has no clearly defined mission and has the leadership worthy of a nest of dust mites. They can bury me in pack ice, because it will be a cold day in hell before I EVER, EVER sacrifice my family above THIS job again.

4EVERCUSTOMS on May 3, 2007 at 7:45 pm

I think we all can agree, whether Customs or INS, the merger was mistake. Both agencies had important missions to perform . . granted the INS mission may not be sexy, but in my opioion just as important as any other enforecment mission. We all recognize the issue, question really is what are we going to do about. Simply continue loathing and belittling one another isn’t going to cut it! We can all agree our management in ICE has alot to be desired and will not concede nor recongize the problem; in that you cannot mix and match missions. Customs and INS missions are distinct. Problem with INS was not INS; moreso t our goverment never had nor the will to enforce immigration law. They sold us out decades ago and that’s something I believe the Customs side is just beginning to see as well. So to me the better question we must ask ourelves is what are we going to do about it? I think its time for us to stop dogging one anther and decide to work together as united law enforcement types we both are and spend that energy to make the change we all know what is right. Reverse the ICE merger ICE . . not becuase of the disatisfaction of one anther, but becuase we all know it’s the right and best thing for each of our respective missions and more importantly for our country whom we all swore to protect and serve. Trust me, as a legacy INS type, I could care less if the case was complex or not . . all that mattered to me was fullfilling my mission and that was to take the bad guys down and send their happy ass home away from my family, my community, and my beloved country. That’s what mattered to me. So, whatever it takes . . a petition drive .. dmeonstration . . letter writing campainge . . whatever it takes . we must pull together and make it our mission to make so . . because we are sure as hell are not getting much done fighting with ourselves . . “United We Stand, Divided We Shall Surely Fall” It’s up to us guys . . Let’s start being proactive and do what’s right for us all . .

fiveo on May 3, 2007 at 8:24 pm

Let’s clear up one myth right off the bat, that many legacy INS agents do not have 4 year college degrees. I do not know of one agent that does not have a degree. EVERYONE that I know of, that came in before me, at the same time as me and after me, has a 4 year college degree. For those that do not, they have Border Patrol experience, which in my opinion is a hell of a lot better than a 4 year degree.
What we all have to realize is that ALL agents, LINS and LUSCS, have been screwed by this merger. Management has royally FUBAR’ed this, from Tom Ridge to Mike Garcia to Mike Doherty to Julie Myers to Peppermint Patty Forman and striaght down to the SACs appointed in every respective field office. Agents on both sides are being thrown into entirely new and foreign assignments without any adequate training or being asked their input and opinion on where they might want to go.
As far as the LINS agents that were GS12 and got GS13 out of the merger, let me tell you this: There are a lot of LINS agents who got promoted to GS13 positions at various Region offices, who have seen these 13s turn into mush by everyone else getting 13s. No, they were not supervisors insofar as supervising anyone, but they were responsible for various programs in which agents in the field had to refer items for their approval. Customs turned these agents into Program Managers before the merger. What happened to the LINS 13 though after the merger? They became worker bees again. And whose fault is this? ICE leadership.
And just as people ask what Immigration has to do with this, more people ask what things like child porn, counterfeit Gucci handbags, counterfeit Viagara, counterfeit Super Bowl licensed gear (speaking of which, where ICE Commercial Fraud agents got detailed to guard against in Detroit during the Super Bowl game and got a free ducat to the game for their “hard” work) has to do with homeland security.

SDGOICE on May 3, 2007 at 10:37 pm

This was copied from the CBP website. How can they investigate criminal activity if they don’t have any criminal investigators? All they have are 1801s, not 1811s.
” – Office of Internal Affairs – Assistant Commissioner, James F. Tomsheck
Office of Internal Affairs (IA), headed by an Assistant Commissioner, has oversight authority for all aspects of CBP operations, personnel and facilities. IA is responsible for ensuring compliance with all CBPwide programs and policies relating to corruption, misconduct, or mismanagement and for executing the internal security, integrity, and management inspections program. Through the national headquarters in Washington, D.C., and strategically located regional field offices, IA investigates criminal and serious administrative misconduct by CBP employees. IA also screens potential CBP employees for suitability; educates employees concerning ethical standards and integrity responsibilities; evaluates physical security threats to CBP employees, facilities, and sensitive information; and inspects CBP operations and processes for managerial effectiveness and improvements. ”

SDGOICE on May 3, 2007 at 11:40 pm

Regarding 4EVERCUSTOMS comments, I know many LCS agents that don’t complain regarding additional duties, at the same pay rate and having to attain a degree for this job. They DO their JOB and take care of business. You my friend (or not), need to remove your self from your cubicle workstation, stop checking the USAJOBS website every 10 minutes, and either DO YOUR JOB in the field or get GET OUT OF THE WAY, so us Legacy INS/Customs and new ICE agents can accomplish the mission of Homeland Security. Either get on the TRAIN, or you will get RUN OVER.

tecnico5 on May 4, 2007 at 1:27 am

“Regarding 4EVERCUSTOMS comments, I know many LCS agents that don’t complain regarding additional duties, at the same pay rate and having to attain a degree for this job. They DO their JOB and take care of business. You my friend (or not), need to remove your self from your cubicle workstation, stop checking the USAJOBS website every 10 minutes, and either DO YOUR JOB in the field or get GET OUT OF THE WAY, so us Legacy INS/Customs and new ICE agents can accomplish the mission of Homeland Security. Either get on the TRAIN, or you will get RUN OVER”.
Posted by: tecnico5 at May 4, 2007 01:27 AM
IT’S OBVIOUS THAT YOU DON’T FULLY READ THE POSTS, OR YOU ARE TOO IGNORANT TO DO SO. SO, AGAIN, USING EXACT QUOTES FROM MY PREVIOUS POSTINGS, LET ME BREAK IT DOWN FOR YOU …
“First of all, despite all the misery and pain that this agency is, I STILL, 12-plus hours a day, 5, 6 and, sometimes, 7 days a week (and, often away from my wife and two beautiful children) DO MY JOB – WHY? NOT because I am deriving any great benefit from it, but because the American public deserves better than me sitting behind a desk all day, twiddling my thumbs and doing nothing”
“If you were in our shoes, you might feel the same way, too. It’s not that we aren’t or won’t do our duty, but I think it’s pretty unrealistic to think that we are just going to stand silently by while the train of incompetence and ineptitude steamrolls over us”.
Posted by: 4EVERCUSTOMS at May 3, 2007 07:45 PM
I DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU READ THAT I SAID I WOULDN’T DO MY JOB; HOWEVER, I THINK MY POSTS ARE PERFECTLY CLEAR THAT I CONTINUE TO NOT ONLY DO MY JOB, BY EXCEED EXPECTATIONS BECAUSE OF COMMITMENT TO DUTY, G-D AND COUNTRY, NOT BECAUSE WE ARE GETTING ANYTHING OUT OF THIS OR AGREE WITH THIS POISONOUS FRAUD THAT HAS BEEN PERPETRATED ON US AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IN THE ALLEGED NAME OF “HOMELAND SECURITY”.
WITH REGARDS TO SITTING IN MY CUBICLE AND SURFING USAJOBS ALL DAY, AGAIN, A DIRECT QUOTE FROM A PREVIOUS POSTING …
“Go to another agency you say? Well, it’s not like the government offered me a choice of going to, let’s say, the FBI when this merger took place. I and my colleagues got shotgunned into this “marriage”, and, for many, their dream job has turned out to be a nightmare. At age 40+, where am I, and many like me, going to go? We are too old to go to yet ANOTHER academy, but too young to retire. We have bills to pay and families to support – we just can’t quit our jobs, unless we want to go bankrupt and drag our families down with us”.
Posted by: 4EVERCUSTOMS at May 3, 2007 07:45 PM
I DON’T KNOW WHAT JOBS YOU THINK I’M SURFING MY FRIEND, BUT I’M GOING NOWHERE ANYTHIME SOON, FOR THE REASON STATED ABOVE.
AND, WITH REGARDS TO YOUR CUBICLE COMMENT, AGAIN, ANOTHER SET OF QUOTES…
“I was a legacy INS Inspector at a MAJOR Northeast airport, often working 90+ hour weeks at the beginning of my career, interdicting Pakistanis, Chinese and a host of other ethnicities who attempted entry into the U.S. I was also a legacy Customs Inspector at a MAJOR Southeastern airport/seaport. I spent THREE, VERY LONG YEARS on the legacy Customs Contraband Enforcement Team at the seaport, humping cargo containers 12, 14 and 16 hours a day, participating directly in the seizure of THOUSANDS of POUNDS of narcotics in that time. I was responsible for developing and implemnenting programs of NATIONAL scope for field-end users, and spent LOTS of time at HQ in Washington doing so. Believe me, I know PLENTY about border enforcement, and what works and what DOESN’T”; FURTHERMORE, “Therefore, I have said my piece, and I don’t give a rat’s behind as to who likes it or doesn’t. Because, until they can accomplish what I have in my career (100+ seizures in 10 years as a Customs Inspector and 40+ criminal cases in 5 years as an agent to date), they can go take a long walk off a short pier, if they even know where to find one”.
Posted by: 4EVERCUSTOMS at May 1, 2007 09:45 PM
I DON’T KNOW WHAT CUBICLE YOU THINK I SIT IN, MY FRIEND, BUT IT DOESN’T FIT IN ECONOMY CLASS ON THE SEVEN TRIPS I AM TAKING THIS YEAR OUTSIDE MY AOR FOR INVESTIGATIVE FURTHERANCE OR TRIAL TESTIMONY, NOR DOES IT FIT IN THE FRONT SEAT OF MY G-RIDE WHILE I GO ALL OVER TOWN TRACKING DOWN LEADS, INTERVIEWING WITNESSES, MEETING WITH AUSAs, ETC; MY LEAPS HOURS, ON ANY GIVEN YEAR FOR THE LAST 5 YEARS, HAVE BEEN ALMOST DOUBLE THE MINIMUM REQUIRED. AND, BY THE WAY, I HAVE PERFORMED ANY TASKING GIVEN TO ME BY MANAGEMENT, BE IT LEGACY INS OR LEGACY CUSTOMS WORK) WITH GREAT ATTENTION TO DETAIL, AND HAVE ALWAYS RECEIVED THE PRAISE OF MY SUPERIORS IN PERFORMING MY DUTIES – DO YOU PAY THE SAME ATTENTION TO DETAIL TO YOUR WORK AS YOU DID IN REPLYING TO MY POSTINGS? IF SO, THERE MUST BE A LOT OF HAPPY CRIMINALS AND ALIENS OUT FREE NOW, BECAUSE YOU WOULD BE TORN UP IN COURT.
THEREFORE, FROM YOUR IGNORANT COMMENTS, I CAN TELL YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE LEGACY INS SYCOPHANTS WHO HAS GLADLY PARTAKEN OF THE KOOL-AID, AND EXPECT LEGACY CUSTOMS AGENTS TO DO THE SAME. NO, MY FRIEND, I WILL NOT GET STEAMROLLED, BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN AROUND ONE TOO MANY YEARS TO FALL INTO THE TRAP OF MEDIOCRITY AND HAVE IT AFFECT MY WORK. HOWEVER, ONE FINAL RE-QUOTE FOR YOU …
“Therefore, I have said my piece, and I don’t give a rat’s behind as to who likes it or doesn’t. Because, until they can accomplish what I have in my career (100+ seizures in 10 years as a Customs Inspector and 40+ criminal cases in 5 years as an agent to date), they can go take a long walk off a short pier, if they even know where to find one”.
Posted by: 4EVERCUSTOMS at May 1, 2007 09:45 PM

4EVERCUSTOMS on May 4, 2007 at 8:14 am

“It’s obvious you don’t fully read the posts…” -4EVERCUSTOMS
No, it’s obvious you don’t fully read the posts or you would have figured out that “all caps” are reserved for Debbie’s comments.
By the way, all caps do not make your points louder or better. You
want respect but are unwilling to give respect. Many INS agents spent longer at FLETC than you did, 20 weeks in my case. If I had the opportunity to take the additional 2 weeks for the CITP certificate I would -especially if it made me CSI Miami and Miami Vice meets Captain America like you.
I got three letters for you pal:EAP (Employee Assistance Program)
You are melting down, do not dumb your baggage on the new recruits!

code7 on May 4, 2007 at 6:05 pm

A moment of silence for 4EVERCUSTOMS. Someone please tell him that his beloved agency is also dead! Get over it!

icehaha on May 4, 2007 at 7:32 pm

Hey Debbie, just wanted to give you a heads up. The original Homeland Security bill introduced by Joe Lieberman would have kept the U.S. Customs Service intact and INS would have remained in the Justice Department. This mess with the merger of Customs Special Agent, INS Special Agent, DRO, and the Federal Protective Service originates from a bill that the Bush Administration introduced into Congress.

5-O on May 4, 2007 at 8:38 pm

“I got three letters for you pal: EAP (Employee Assistance Program)You are melting down, do not dumb your baggage on the new recruits!”
Posted by: code7 at May 4, 2007 06:05 PM
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING !!! ALL THE POSTS I HAVE ISSUED HAVE BEEN BACKED UP BY HARD FACTS, AND NOW, BECAUSE I (AND MANY OTHER LEGACY CUSTOMS AGENTS) REFUSE TO SHUT UP AND PLAY ALONG TO GET ALONG, NOW WE REVERT TO PERSONAL ATTACKS ON PEOPLE’S MENTAL STATE (SOUNDS LIKE A BUSH-ISM TO ME, MY FRIEND – “BLAME THE VICTIM”).
WELL, HERE’S ANOTHE DOSE OF REALITY THAT IS NOT SO EASILY EXPLAINED AWAY: FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS, DHS AND ITS COMPONENT AGENCIES CONSISTENTLY RANK NEAR THE BOTTOM OF EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION. GEE, I WONDER WHY? ARE WE ALL IN NEED OF EAP? OR IS THERE A SERIOUS MORALE PROBLEM, BASED IN FACTS, THAT DHS MANAGEMENT REFUSES TO ADDRESS.
WHEN A COLLEAGUE OF MINE RAISED THIS ISSUE RECENTLY AT AN HQ STAFF MEETING TO NONE OTHER THAN DEP. ASS’T. SECRETARY JOHN P. CLARK, MR. CLARK STARED DOWN THE EMPLOYEE AND SNAPPED: “THERE IS NO MORALE PROBLEM IN ICE”. THIS IS THE SAME MR. CLARK WHO ISSUED A MEMO SOME THREE YEARS AGO STATING, IN EFFECT, THAT WE COULD EITHER TAKE THE S–T THAT WAS COMING OR GET OUT OF DODGE.
NO, FRIEND, THE PROBLEM ISN’T ME, OR THE THOUSANDS OF OTHER ICE AGENTS I TALK TO (MAINLY LEGACY CUSTOMS) WHO THINK THIS WHOLE CREATION IS A FRAUD, WITH DOZENS, NO HUNDREDS, OF EXAMPLES TO SUPPORT MY AND THEIR POINT OF VIEW. RATHER, YOU, AND THE POWERS THAT BE ARE HAPPY TO DENY, DENY AND DENY THE VERY REAL PROBLEMS FACING ICE AND, INSTEAD OF PROFFERING SOLUTIONS (SUCH AS AN EMERGENCY REORGANIZATION AND SUFFICIENT FUNDING FOR BOTH, EQUALLY IMPORTANT (BUT DIFFERENT) MISSIONS), YOU JUST WANT PEOPLE TO ACCEPT THE WAY THINGS ARE AND BE LED BY THE NOSE RINGS LIKE BULLS TO THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE.
YOU KEEP THINKING THAT WAY MY FRIEND, AND, WHEN THE LIBERAL-O-CRATS TAKE FULL POWER IN 2008, LET’S SEE HOW MUCH JUICE ICE WILL HAVE AS THEY SHUT DOWN IMMIGRATION OPERATIONS, AND ALL THE REST OF OUR AUTHORITY HAS BEEN SIPHONED OFF BY THE FBI, DEA, ATF, ETC.
FINALLY, IF MS. SCHLUSSEL CARES TO ADDRESS MY WRITING STYLE, I’M SURE SHE DOES NOT NEED AN A**-KISSING SYCOPHANT LIKE YOU TO TELL ME ABOUT IT. SHE SEEMS LIKE A FULLY COMPETENT WOMAN, AND SHE KNOWS HOW TO REACH OUT TO ME IF NEED BE.

4EVERCUSTOMS on May 4, 2007 at 10:44 pm

“Because, until they can accomplish what I have in my career (100+ seizures in 10 years as a Customs Inspector and 40+ criminal cases in 5 years as an agent to date)”
Wow, 4EVERCUSTOMS, you made 10 seizures a year AND later worked 8 criminal cases a year? You best slow down before you have a heart attack. How ever did you accumulate such impressive stats? Was your college degree, your full year at FLETC or your 12 hour day, 7 day a week work ethic the key? Forget Spider Man, when I grow up, I want to be 4EVERCUSTOMS MAN!

SouthernINS1811 on May 5, 2007 at 12:49 am

After reading the comments to this article and several past articles, it looks to me that:
1) All agree that the merger was a mistake.
2) All agree that management is not doing their job.
3) All agree that in spite of that, morale is low, but they are doing their job because they all signed up to do just that.
That leaves only one issue, the difference between the agents. IMHO, Legacy Customs Agents are the heir to the million dollar mansion who have found out that they have a red-headed step brother who wants half of the mansion. Legacy INS Agents want recognition that they are entitled to their share of the mansion.
The problem is that their father (Congress and ICE management) has told them to get along as this is the new family, thereby legitimizing the Legacy INS agents in his sight.
Legacy Customs Agents are bitter that they have to share the mansion and that their father wants them to embrace their step brother’s ideas. They constantly remind the Legacy INS agents that they had the mansion first. They also belittle the Legacy INS agents because they refuse to see them as legitimate. The Legacy INS Agents, offended, get nasty and shine a light on all of the Legacy Customs agent’s skeletons and failings to show them that they are both legitimate. Neither will ever agree. Both begin fighting and morale gets even lower than it would be.
The question I have for both, is how is father supposed to fix this problem?
Can he not admit that the step child is his son? No.
Can he become the thought police and force both to like each other? No.
The only thing that father could do is separate the family. Father is not going to admit that he made a mistake and do that. Both are now forced to live a life they did not want. In addition, Father also brought so many new sets of rules to the mansion, both cannot begin to accomplish them.
That leaves it up to the sons to learn to set aside their differences and get along, each recognizing the other’s good points, not focusing on the bad. Whether either like’s it or not, this is the new family and all have to eat the tasteless food as well as the dessert that both brought to the table. The new brothers (ICE Agents/transfers) seem to be dealing with it better.
All this bickering is not fair to the American public. It is eroding our government from within and de-focusing all from the incredibly wide mission that father gave them. At some point, both are going to have to swallow that bitter pill and focus on getting as much of the mission done as possible, whether that mission is something they want to do or not.
It doesn’t matter if it’s belittling or satisfying. Father, through the tax payers, is paying all to get as much done as is humanly possible. It doesn’t matter if all believe father is incompetent. It doesn’t matter who was/is the better investigator, who had more stats, who worked harder, who worked longer, whose academy was longer, who had the CITP certification, who was paid more, who accomplished their mission, who was older, who is more educated, or who’s badge noted ‘integrity’.
That is all water under the bridge and will unlikely ever change. Please, focus on your own spouses and children to keep from going insane. Please, while working those long hard hours, stop letting the situation you are in crush you and start focusing on getting as much of the mission accomplished as possible. Your government and he American people deserve it.

True American on May 5, 2007 at 10:44 am

For all of you useless former INS Agents, I can fax you the last stats from the Southern District of Florida before we were forced into working with you subpar agents. You will find that US Customs not only arrrested more people than the FBI, DEA, and ATF combined, we also had the highest conviction rate. You INS slugs were on the bottom of that list, WHERE YOU BELONG. You turds need to go over to DRO where you can infect their division. When people out there hear Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they immediately lose all respect for our agency. You want to know why???? Because everybody in the world knows INS was the biggest failure in the history of federal law enforcement. So when the word Immigration comes out our mouth, people shut everything else out because they know the deal. You were the bitches of DOJ for years and now are infecting us with the same fate. Nothing you INS slugs can say will ever change the fact that you were/are the most unaccomplished agents on the books.

kcrat on May 5, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Wow! I had no idea there was so much venom out there. I’m from a SAC Office that was smart enough to merger quickly. We are now ICE agents plain and simple. Yes, we still have a few “prima donnas” from Legacy Customs who have not learned Enforce or even a few choice words in espanol to complete an I-213 on a simple EWI. They are still sitting on their pink pedestals being legends in their own minds. Thankfully these narcissistic vermin are leaving ICE in droves.
The premise that all Legacy INS agents lacked education or investigative skills is a complete fallacy. It might be true that many ACAP agents are former BP officers who don’t have four-year degrees or attended a CI academy. So what! They are still great Spanish speakers who can handle and process many aliens quickly. I personally want them backing me up in a fight. Prior to the merger, I was assigned to our ASU and Fraud Unit which consisting of seven agents. Three of us had masters degrees. Languages spoken fluently by agents within this unit included Russian, Chinese, Korean, French, Romanian, and Spanish. Our criminal cases took us around the world.
I am very proud of my brother and sister ASU agents in Detroit, Buffalo, Seattle, New York, Houston, and elsewhere who successfully conducted international alien smuggling and RICO investigations on “shoe sting” budgets. What we lacked in institutional financial support, we made it up in our creativity and work ethic.

MMA4LIFE on May 6, 2007 at 9:30 pm

Well, we certainly see the internal strife! We are eating ourselves from within. Let the sublime INS agents do what they haven’t in the past and please allow the Customs guys go back to doing their job, which is not understood by the immigration folks.
Immigration issues are vital to US security interest. If the powers that be, allowed that to be a priority instead of a politically motivated voting block, then maybe, just maybe we could get a handle on it! NO GOOD HAS COME FROM THIS MERGER!!!!

ICEMAN on May 7, 2007 at 10:24 am

All the posts make for some good reading. Former ICE SSA here. Left about a year ago for greener pastures. I was legacy Customs, although not an agent. The formation of ICE was a mistake. It wasn’t necessary, but a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11. All Bush had to do was get the heads of the 22 agencies in the same room and order them to work together. That’s it. Problem solved. In my short time with ICE (3 years) I did learn a lot about street work. Legacy INS guys were better street cops than Customs guys ever were, but that had to do with the kinds of cases they worked (arresting illegals on the street). Customs guys did work better kinds of cases (more complex and interesting). This is a generalization, as both agencies did have better kinds of cases than some of the less sexier stuff. Each had its share of slugs and superstars. I didn’t learn a whole lot from the legacy Customs guys. Most of the useful stuff I picked up was from former INS types. I left ICE for an agent job with an IG office. A step backwards in some ways but better in others (major white-collar financial crimes; so cases are much better). Agent’s note: of my ICESAT class at FLETC (23 bodies)…17 have left, including a few who have gone back to the local PD. Also, my contacts at ICE HQ confirm that the DHS thinking is that financial, drugs, exports, etc. go away. We’ll see how it all unfolds.

FormerICE on May 7, 2007 at 11:11 am

Wow…lots of venom on this little blog entry, huh?
Definitions of absurd on the Web:
1. inconsistent with reason or logic or common sense;
2. incongruous;inviting ridicule;
3. a situation in which life seems irrational and meaningless
Talk about a round peg in a round hole. Sounds just like ICE doesn’t it? My background is as a LUSCS Agent and prior to that a police officer with a major metropolitan police department in the Southeast. Since creds are a big issue here, I also have a four year degree from a highly accredited university.
Customs did a great job at what their mission prior to the merger. This was widely recognized and one of the main reasons I took the job with Customs. INS, on the other hand, always struggled, though in fairness, I don’t think you can blame that on the individual agents, but more to the point, the onus for INS’ failings had much more to do with lack of support both in the government and public opinion than anything. I recall while working as a police officer the hypocrisy of asking the INS to do something about the illegal migrant workers bringing in the Vidalia onion harvest. They did do something about it, they cleaned the workers out…and then were promptly slapped back by congressmen who were fielding angry phone calls from their respective constituency. Can’t win for losing I suppose.
Unfortunately, we have inherited that at ICE. Go solve the problem we are told, both INS and USCS legacy agents alike. But when we do, we are slapped back for it in the court of public opinion and Congress. Anyone remember the Swift meat-packing plant raids? We got a ton of illegals (relatively speaking) but nobody in upper management in those companies has been indicted. Why not?
Customs agents, by and large, were not hemmed in by unsupportive and politically oriented management asking us to go do our jobs with a wink meant to infer “but not TOO well” lest we enrage the public. I personally have no problem going out and taking down human trafficking organizations and the like, but being asked to just do it without the tools is absurd (see definition).
Talk about a ridiculous waste of effectiveness and manpower. I have never been given any INS training (don’t talk to me about that 2 week course garbage) nor do I speak Spanish. I am, however, asked to go do the job as if I magically came by that knowledge by osmosis when they issued my ICE badge after freezing my Customs badge in carbonite. Or maybe we can ask INS agents, who have spent their careers tracking human smugglers, to suddenly have an extensive working knowledge of strategic weapons smuggling or child exploitation. Neither scenario is feasible, but that’s exactly what this agency expects. Jack’s of all trades and truly masters of nothing. No other agency dilutes their agent pool this way. Even the Feebs have people that specialize. If I have an agent that is great at financial investigations, maybe I should let he/she do that and do it well, rather than ask them to work worksite enforcement. Perhaps an agent who has a nose for ferreting outillegal alien gangs would be put to better use taking out MS-13 rather than being assigned a dope group. Sorry for trying to make sense, I realize I do work in the government.
Yeah, morale is bad. But maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t the Customs agents, and it isn’t the INS agents, but rather the shoving of square pegs into round wholes that the vote-pandering, mouth-breathing imbeciles on Capitol hill seem to be so adept at on a daily basis.
But that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

RammerJammer on May 7, 2007 at 4:37 pm

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