How ICE, DHS and USCIS Work Together

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) all have their unique roles in the US immigration process. The USCIS is responsible for accepting and processing immigration forms and petitions as well as for handling the administrative side of the US immigration process. ICE is responsible for keeping borders secure and processing those who wish to enter the US. DHS is charged with maintaining safety for all residents and visitors in the US and taking care of enforcement of immigration matters. While all the agencies are quite different, however, they all are designed to help both immigrants and US residents enjoy safety and security at home. To that end, the ICE, USCIS, and DHS work together and with other agencies to create a safe environment across the US.

There are many ways that the ICE, USCIS and DHS work together. One obvious way is through enforcement. While ICE and DHS are officially in charge of enforcement, the two agencies share information with USCIS and with other agencies in order to catch criminals. In 2010, for example, ICE removed 392,000 illegal immigrants from the US. These included more than 195,000 convicted criminals. The ICE was able to do this, in part, due to cooperation with the USCIS, DHS, and other agencies. As well, the ICE uses the Secure Communities initiative to identify criminals in US custody by using biometric data.

DHS and USCIS both rely on the E-Verify system to ensure that only US residents authorized to work in the US are employed. The USCIS administers the system and gives employers and employees alike instructions on taking part in the system. Both USCIS and DHS are responsible for checking that employers use E-Verify correctly and for enforcing US employment immigration laws. In 2009, over 243,000 companies were taking part in E-Verify.

The ICE, USCIS, and DHS websites also work together to help immigrants and US residents learn more about the immigration process. Each of the websites links to relevant information on other agency’s websites, stressing the way that all the agencies work together in providing immigration services. As well, the ICE, USCIS, and DHS frequently work together on special initiatives. For example, in June 2011, the three agencies created an imitative with other agencies and law enforcement in order to crack down on US immigration fraud. The three agencies have also worked together to end human trafficking, through the DHS’s Blue Campaign to Combat Human Trafficking and the ICE Operation In Plain Sight program.