• DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.714
    -0.061
    -3.4%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    1.944
    0.039
    2%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    0.898
    -0.033
    -3.5%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.537
    0.003
    0.2%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.901
    0.066
    7.9%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.962
    -0.018
    -1.8%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.139
    0.018
    0.8%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.540
    -0.013
    -0.8%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.426
    0.005
    0.4%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.218
    -0.014
    -1.1%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.520
    0.042
    2.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,531.040
    -57.980
    -0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    6.020
    0.110
    1.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,502.790
    -61.450
    -0.6%
  • TLT.USA
    2.440
    -0.020
    -0.8%
  • WAIT.USA
    150.000
    -1.000
    -0.7%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.714
    -0.061
    -3.4%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    1.944
    0.039
    2%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    0.898
    -0.033
    -3.5%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.537
    0.003
    0.2%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.901
    0.066
    7.9%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.962
    -0.018
    -1.8%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.139
    0.018
    0.8%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.540
    -0.013
    -0.8%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.426
    0.005
    0.4%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.218
    -0.014
    -1.1%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.520
    0.042
    2.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,531.040
    -57.980
    -0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    6.020
    0.110
    1.9%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,502.790
    -61.450
    -0.6%
  • TLT.USA
    2.440
    -0.020
    -0.8%
  • WAIT.USA
    150.000
    -1.000
    -0.7%
American ShipperShippingTrade Compliance

Compliance 360: ICE trade enforcement vital

In fiscal 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection made over 32,000 seizures involving counterfeit goods totaling an estimated value of more than $1.2 billion.

   As some lawmakers call for getting rid of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), they should be mindful of how such an action would impact trade enforcement and legitimate commerce in the United States.
   In fiscal 2017, ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) made over 32,000 seizures involving counterfeit goods totaling an estimated value of more than $1.2 billion, according to a May statement by ICE.
   Typically, after an initial trade enforcement activity such as seizure or detention is performed by CBP, cases then transfer to ICE for further investigation, with the goal of criminal prosecution and dismantlement of criminal organizations in the trade environment, former CBP Assistant Commissioner for International Trade Al Gina said in an interview with American Shipper.
   Abolishing ICE would impact the effectiveness of trade-enforcement functions across the board, said Gina, who currently works at CT Strategies, a trade and travel consultancy he co-founded.
   Without ICE, CBP would keep seizing items, but elimination of ICE’s criminal enforcement efforts could undercut legitimate U.S. commerce, Gina indicated.
   “Everything that you seize is just going to be considered, possibly, the cost of doing business, unless there was some other greater consequence, such as arrest, prosecution, complete dismantling of the smuggling organization,” he said. “That’s the role that ICE performs.”
   Gina and Andrew Farrelly, a CT Strategies co-founder and former director of targeting programs for CBP’s National Targeting Center, agreed that U.S. trade-related criminal enforcement actions would likely continue even if ICE is abolished or otherwise adjusted, but said that would be very disruptive to activities such as intellectual property enforcement.
   “Sure, the government is resilient and they can figure anything out and work within the laws that they have, but trying to solve one perceived issue by abolishing the entire agency is just fraught with so many different things that have to be — if it’s done — well thought through and accounted for,” Farrelly said.
   Among the high-profile names embracing calls for the abolishment of ICE are two sitting U.S. senators.
   Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during a June 30 immigration rally in Boston called for ICE to be replaced “with something that reflects our morality and that works.”
   Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., offered only slightly more specificity during a June 28 appearance on CNN, saying that criminal justice and immigration issues under ICE’s purview should be separated and that policymakers should “reimagine” ICE under a “new agency with a very different mission.”
   Neither Warren’s nor Gillibrand’s office responded to American Shipper requests for comment on how ICE trade enforcement functions should be handled if the agency is abolished.
   Gina noted that ICE’s two significant operational offices are Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which investigates issues including commercial fraud and houses the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, and Enforcement and Removal Operations, which is responsible for implementing policies related to combating illegal immigration that have come under fire recently as criminal enforcement proceedings have resulted in the temporary separation of families alleged to have crossed into the United States illegally.
   An ICE spokesperson noted in an email that while CBP handles frontline trade and IP enforcement, ICE’s trade investigations cover issues including antidumping and countervailing duties, wildlife trafficking, imports violating environmental standards and importation of goods produced from forced labor.
   “The recent calls to abolish ICE are dangerously misguided and overlook the vital work that ICE officers and special agents perform each day to keep communities safe,” another ICE spokesperson said in an email. “Instead of being insulted with politically motivated attacks, the men and women of ICE should be praised for risking life and limb every day in the name of national security and public safety.”
   The question that should be posed to elected officials who call for the elimination of ICE is whether they really want to abolish the agency or amend a policy that ICE may be following at their or the White House’s direction, Gina said.
   “It seems, possibly, the sensationalism of just making a bold statement, ‘Abolish ICE,’ seems to maybe create the shock and awe that people want, versus really doing the root-cause analysis of what exactly is the issue and what exactly is going to be accomplished by trying to abolish an entire agency,” Gina said.
   Ira Reese, former executive director of CBP laboratories and scientific services, the agency’s scientific and forensic arm, said he foresees few impacts to IP and trade enforcement efforts should ICE dissolve, outside of the necessity to hire some new administrative personnel.
   “Say, theoretically, that you would abolish ICE, which basically is just notional right now between certain people out there in the ether. You still have the investigations area of ICE, which is huge, and they still would always have the mission of investigating transnational crime and basically being the investigators for CBP and any other crime relating to the border,” said Reese, currently a director and chief technology officer for Global Security and Innovative Strategies, a security consulting and business advisory firm.
   “It might get reformed; I’m not sure where. I mean, [HSI is] an investigational office with arrest authority, badges and guns, so you have to have a certain structure that knows how to manage law enforcement agencies,” Reese added.
   No matter ICE’s future, policymakers should not ignore the significance of the agency to enforcing trade laws and to deterring those who seek to undercut law-abiding U.S. importers, customs brokers, manufacturers and vendors.
   Flashy statements likely to trend on social media do not sacrifice the necessity for specific, compelling criminal trade enforcement proposals from elected officials who call for ICE’s abolishment.

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Brian Bradley

Based in Washington, D.C., Brian covers international trade policy for American Shipper and FreightWaves. In the past, he covered nuclear defense, environmental cleanup, crime, sports, and trade at various industry and local publications.
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