Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Failed Marriage

Politics, policy, purpose, and culture have resulted in a shotgun marriage of the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service investigations section and the legacy U.S. Customs Service's (USCS) investigations section. The result was an agency that had the greatest of potentials, though none who knew either agency had any belief it would succeed. While illegal immigration and imported contraband have great similarities, it just could not work.

And the failure is in the news again. A legacy INS Special Agent, promoted to an ICE Supervisory Special Agent (Group Supervisor) recently shot a legacy USCS Special Agent, now ICE Deputy Special Agent in Charge. It appeared to be a dispute over assignments. Although there might be a brown v. white undercurrent or the usual INS v. USCS dynamic. (h/t American Patrol)

Fox News Latino February 18, 2012


LONG BEACH, Calif. – The deadly shooting of a supervisor by an immigration special agent earlier this week in California is the latest blow against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the law enforcement agency created after the 2001 terror attacks.
Its officers and agents have themselves been arrested for crimes, accused of improper relationships with informants, convicted in embezzlement cases, and more.
Insiders said ICE, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security, struggles to overcome internal friction and competing cultures among employees who worked at the different federal agencies that were combined nine years ago to form ICE: the former Customs Service in the Treasury Department and the Justice Department's Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"It was more like a hostile takeover and Customs clearly had the upper hand," said T.J. Bonner, a retired Border Patrol agent who has worked with ICE. He described the agency's formation as "an unfriendly merger."

Investigators were piecing together details of Thursday's chaotic scene at the ICE office in Long Beach. They said a supervisory agent, Ezequiel Garcia, shot Kevin Kozak, the agency's second in command, at least six times. Another agent, whose name was being withheld, fatally shot Garcia.

A federal official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that Kozak had denied a request for an internal transfer by Garcia. Kozak formerly worked at the Customs Service; Garcia worked for the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service and was promoted in 2004 to be a supervisor within ICE.

Nine years of close observation of the new agency, ICE, and its employees confirms a dysfunctional and highly politicized agency unable or unwilling to either effectively fulfill the duties of their legacy agencies. USCS investigators had an excellent reputation in the "1811" community, running major cases with professionalism and success. The legacy INS had a lesser reputation, but it excelled at its much more narrow and less intellectually demanding work.

ICE now, ripped by undercurrents of personality conflicts, low quality of new agents unable to measure up to being a new "FBI," mission creep into areas of little concern or ability, a burning desire to replace the FBI, and a contempt for it core mission, immigration enforcement. It is even beginning to fall down on its core "Customs" mission, drug smuggling. As a matter of fact, complaints concerning threats of workplace violence are rampant in ICE, with management taking the ostrich approach to the undercurrent of conflict. The recent shooting is only a symptom of a growing problem.

As stated before, while few thought ICE could have been successful, it did have a small chance. The solution being something like how the New York Police Department selects and promotes its detectives and differentiates between detectives, with investigative success being the selection factor. Separate ICE Special Agents into three pay grades, those with the most success and experience in developing their skills in the field would be promoted to the more complex and demanding legacy USCS investigations like those involving the highly successful Operation Greenback. Now ICE Special Agents are promoted from grades GS-7 to GS-9, to GS-11, to GS-12, and finally to GS-13 without any serious review of their abilities and success. Much do to affirmative action, but common throughout the Federal Civil Service. A more demanding appraisal system based on investigative success and a written examination specific to the requisite skill set and knowledge of the law, criminal enterprises and crime trends would be the core of an agency directed to success.

However, presently ICE is rudderless, more concerned with adhering to the Regime's amnesty program, and desperately reaching to branch out to crimes outside of the customs and immigration arena, such as child pornography, or its desire to replace the FBI as the lead in high profile terrorism investigations. The internal conflict only encourages failure and conflict among its employees. Given the growing corruption and workplace violence in ICE, it should also begin using polygraph and psychological screening as a start.

UPDATE:

See Debbie Schlussel's inside info:

Debbie Schlussel February 17, 2012


And read the comments on the INS v. USCS problem. Worse than I thought. But it is reflective of the current ICE management style.

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