DALLAS - With emotions running high about immigration enforcement, ICE is working to combat an image problem.
An ICE facility in Washington State and another in San Antonio were both targeted this summer. Federal agents shot and killed a man who had a rifle and threw a Molotov cocktail at the Tacoma detention center
Field office directors are now concerned tensions could be putting ICE agents in harm's way.
To combat what ICE says are misperceptions, field directors issued a letter to the American public.
Marc Moore, ICE Dallas Field Office Director, says his officers shouldn't be demonized for upholding the laws Congress enacted.
“To demonize our folks and threaten violence against them, their families and their personal residences is uncalled for,” he said. “No other law enforcement agency in this country is faced with that.”
Moore wants people to change the way they think about ICE agents.
“We see leadership in Congress, state and federal level continue to talk about raids as if that's something we do like a bygone area like prohibition or something.”
ICE is under the microscope due in part to no longer turning a blind eye to illegal immigrants whose only crimes might be border violations. It's a move that's come from the top.
“I think it's been clear over the last 2-3 years that we aren't going to exempt classes of individuals from enforcement of immigration laws simply because they aren't a convicted criminal,” Moore said.
The Associated Press found that ICE's arrests of non-criminals increased by 66 percent. Deportations increased by 174 percent compared with a year ago.
Moore says that's also due in part to an increase in the number of people entering the country illegally.
“We're still wanting to ensure we have integrity at the border,” he said. “If there is no consequence for entering the country illegally when we find those individuals, we've lost the integrity of the immigration system.”
Another issue Moore hopes to clear up is that ICE agents don't need a warrant to arrest someone unless they are inside their home.