The "Criminal Alien" Enforcement Life Cycle. IMAGE: U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement

Like any law enforcement agency, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) relies on an alphabet soup of labels for its different divisions and programs. ICE officers also use a fair amount of jargon for the tools they use to make these programs work.

Term Description
287(g) The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 added Section 287(g), performance of immigration officer functions by state officers and employees, to the Immigration and Nationality Act. This authorized DHS to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, provided that they receive training supervised by ICE officers.
Criminal Alien An immigrant or legal resident who is charged or convicted of a criminal offense.
Criminal Alien Program (CAP) ICE uses CAP to identify criminal aliens incarcerated in federal, state and local facilities, and ensure they are not released. Instead, it issues a final order of removal prior to the termination of their sentence. CAP is active in all state and federal prisons, and more than 300 local jails nationwide.
Deportation Once an immigration judge issues an "order of removal" in an individual's case ICE enforces the order and ensures the person is returned to their home country. This process includes coordination foreign embassies to obtain travel documents coordinate transportation.
Detainer ICE issues a detainer to police or jailers in order to request they not release an immigrant for two business days while it determines whether to transfer the person into federal custody. Police who misunderstand the purpose of a detainer often fail to release an immigrant after the request expires, and some judges wrongly believe a detainer indicates bond should be denied to an immigrant facing a pending criminal case.
Detention The ICE detention system has a capacity of about 33,000 immigrants. It includes more than 350 local and state facilities; seven contract detention facilities; eight ICE owned facilities and five Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities.
ICE Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security (ACCESS) ACCESS is ICE's umbrella agency for services and programs its offers to local law enforcement agencies. ICE officers advise local agencies which type of partnership is most beneficial.
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) An MOA defines the scope of authority ICE designates to local law police to enforce immigration law. It establishes the supervisory structure for the officers and defines the complaint process governing officer conduct under the MOA. The agreement must be signed by the ICE Assistant Secretary, and the governor, a senior political entity, or the head of the local agency.
Offender Levels Level 1 – Individuals convicted of major drug offenses and/or violent offenses such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and kidnapping; Level 2 – Individuals convicted of minor drug offenses and/or mainly property offenses such as burglary, larceny, fraud and money laundering; and Level 3 – Individuals convicted of other offenses.
Secure Communities The Secure Communities mandate is to improve public safety by identifying and removing criminal aliens from the United States by using arrest data - such as a fingerprint scan - shared by state and local law enforcement officials regardless of guilt or innocence. After the data is crosschecked with immigration and FBI databases, ICE officers determine whether the person will be transferred to their custody and processed for deportation.
State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) SCAAP provides federal payments to states and localities that incurr correctional officer salary costs for incarcerating undocumented criminal aliens with at least one felony or two misdemeanor convictions for violations of state or local law, and incarcerated for at least 4 consecutive days during the reporting period.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) The law enforcement agency of DHS that patrols U.S. borders (air, land, sea) and enforces immigration, customs, and agriculture laws.
U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) The law enforcement agency of DHS that investigates immigration and customs violations, and enforces deportations and removals. ICE is the largest investigative agency in DHS.