(ESPAÑOL) Ronald Vitiello takes over as acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid protests and cries to abolish ICE.
Activists have focused their outrage over President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policies squarely on the deportation division, as anti-ICE protesters take to the streets and Democratic lawmakers call to “abolish ICE” entirely.
“The men and women of ICE are among the most dedicated and honorable law enforcement professionals in the country,” Vitiello said in a statement sent to Fox News. “I am honored to lead them as they continue to carry out their sworn mission to faithfully enforce our nation’s immigration and customs laws and protect the homeland.”
When Trump took office, he promoted Vitiello to chief of the Border Patrol and eventually deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, before being tapped by Trump once again to lead ICE after the retirement of Acting Director Thomas D. Homan. Trump has yet to nominate anyone to formally serve as director.
Hundreds of thousands of marchers participated in more than 700 marches across the country over the weekend to protest the family separations. They gathered on the front lawn of a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, near a detention center where migrant children were being held in cages, and on a street corner near Trump’s golf resort at Bedminster, New Jersey, where the president was spending the weekend.
The backlash against ICE has become so heated that senior officials in the agency’s criminal investigative division sent a letter to DHS Secretary Nielsen last month urging an organizational split of ICE.
The letter, signed by the majority of special agents in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigative Division (HSI), argued that the Homeland Security Investigative Division and ICE’s other division, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), should be two separate organizations. While the work of ERO is more well-known as it carries out arrest and deportations, HSI focuses its work on transnational counterterrorism, narcotics enforcement, human trafficking and other crimes.