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Homeland Security

Immigration Enforcement Overview

Immigration Enforcement Overview

Prioritizing Resources

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) receives an annual appropriation from Congress sufficient to remove a limited number of the more than 10 million individuals estimated to unlawfully be in the United States. As a result, ICE must prioritize which individuals to pursue.

Focusing on Higher Priority Individuals

ICE has adopted common sense policies that ensure our immigration laws are enforced in a way that best enhances public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system.

As part of this approach, ICE has set clear priorities that call for the agency's enforcement resources to be focused on the identification and removal of those individuals who have:

  • Broken criminal laws,
  • Recently crossed our border,
  • Repeatedly violated immigration law or
  • Are fugitives from immigration court.

The setting of these priorities ensures that resources are allocated where they are needed most.


During the past three years, ICE’s approach to immigration enforcement has resulted in unprecedented results. In fiscal year 2011, ICE removed more than 396,000 individuals. Ninety percent of all these removals fell into one of ICE's enforcement priority categories.

The Department has improved and expanded the E-Verify system, adding new features to monitor for fraud and redesigning the system to ensure compliance and ease of use. The Department also announced the 'I E-Verify' initiative to let consumers know which businesses are working to maintain legal workforces by using E-Verify. In FY 2012 to date, over 15 million queries have been run through the E-Verify system.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also continued major reforms of the immigration detention system—prioritizing health, safety and uniformity among detention facilities while ensuring security, efficiency and fiscal responsibility.

Last Published Date: November 15, 2013
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