Immigration enforcement agents protect the security of the nation and society by identifying, pursuing, arresting, detaining and deporting violators of U.S. immigration laws. As highly trained law enforcement professionals, IEAs are often asked to enter high risk areas where criminals, terrorists and undocumented aliens may be residing.
Investigations concerning foreign nationals are often headed by immigration enforcement agents who possess specialized knowledge of immigration laws, foreign languages and protocols for apprehending and detaining suspects. Immigration enforcement agents spearhead operations that monitor and neutralize criminal and terrorist networks, including transnational gangs, drug syndicates, human trafficking operations, child pornography rings and financial crime networks.
Immigration Enforcement Agent Job Description
In addition to bringing immigration law violators to justice, immigration enforcement agents are also responsible for their secure detention, transport and delivery to foreign countries, agencies and facilities. In order to facilitate this, IEAs often must coordinate with the U.S. and foreign legal systems, as well as American and foreign diplomatic personnel.
In the course of fulfilling their professional responsibilities, immigration enforcement agent jobs involve performing the following duties:
- Detect, identify and arrest foreign nationals without proper immigration documents
- Process, detain and transport undocumented aliens throughout the legal process
- Initiate prosecution and deportation proceedings
- Transport and deliver foreign nationals to international agencies
- Monitor, track and investigate the activities of suspected criminals and terrorists originating outside the United States
- Coordinate with foreign law enforcement agencies about interdiction operations
- Maintain detention facilities
- Investigate crimes that may involve individuals without legal status
- Provide language translation services to partner law enforcement agencies
- Maintain current knowledge about federal, state and local immigration policies
Salary and Job Benefits of ICE IEAs
Immigration enforcement agent jobs at the entry-level start at the GS-5 or the GS-7 level, while some limited positions may also allow entry with a GS-9 rating. With enough career progression, IEAs may achieve a level of GS-12 or, even GS-14 if they attain a supervisor or instructor position. For the 2012, the salary ranges for those pay levels were as follows.
- General Schedule 5: $27,431-$35657
- General Schedule 7: $33979-$44,176
- General Schedule 9: $41,563-$54,028
- General Schedule 12: $60,274-$78,355
- General Schedule 14: $84,697-$110,104
The pay scale for entering immigration enforcement agents is contingent upon their level of education, law enforcement experience, professional experience and military background. These base salaries may also be adjusted according to the cost of living in an area.
Along with the base salary, immigration enforcement agents also receive an additional 25 percent of their salary in the form of Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), which is meant to compensate IEAs for their more hazardous professional responsibilities, longer hours and 24-hour availability. Subsequently, immigration enforcement agents may not supplement their salary with overtime.
As law enforcement officers with the federal government, IEAs also receive a generous benefits package that includes the following
- A choice of civil and law enforcement retirement plans that allow full retirement after 20 years of service
- Several health, vision, and dental plans to choose from
- Life insurance and long term care insurance
- Thrift Savings Plans that are the federal government’s version of 401k programs
- Ten paid holidays annually
- Accrual of four hours of annual leave and four hours of sick leave per pay period
- Tuition assistance
- Travel subsidy
- Uniform allowance
- Paid training
- Flexible spending accounts that supplement health and dependent care plans
To learn more about how to become an immigration enforcement agent, click here.