In 2010, the population of illegal immigrants in Nebraska was estimated to be 45,000. Given that the state had a population of fewer than 1.9 million in 2010, illegal immigrants comprised nearly 2.5% of Nebraska’s population that year.
Part of the mission of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in Nebraska is to arrest illegal aliens who have committed crimes. Violent gang members are among those most frequently targeted. In 2009, ICE agents in Lincoln and Omaha were involved in the arrest of 36 gang members or gang associates. Sixty-nine firearms were seized that were intended to reach drug cartel members in Mexico. This included 14 assault rifles and a sniper rifle.
Becoming an ICE Agent in Nebraska
The activities of ICE special agents in Nebraska contribute to US security with an international reach. ICE rigorously screens those who seek careers as criminal investigators, or special agents, for the agency.
Veterans and LEOs – ICE is eager to recruit veterans, and in some cases, being a veteran can exempt one from the requirement that applicants be no older than 36. Having a background in law enforcement or investigating criminal activities can help to substitute for some of the educational requirements for applicants.
Educational Requirements – Applicants are required to either have obtained a bachelor’s degree that meets certain criteria or to have attended graduate school for at least a year. Qualifications from a bachelor’s degree include ranking in the top third of the class, having been elected to a national honor society, or having a B in all courses or a B+ in their major. This can be for all of the courses taken or those taken in the final two years.
Training at the FLEC – Recruits who have passed their background check learn how to become ICE agents by spending 22 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Brunswick, Georgia. This paid training includes learning to use firearms, rigorous physical conditioning, and academic coursework.
ICE and Biometric Checks
Part of an ICE agent’s job involves detecting illegal aliens who have broken the law, so they can be deported. A new biometric program was first implemented in Nebraska in 2010 before going nationwide in 2013. It combines fingerprint checks from the following databases:
- Department of Justice IAFIS (Integrated Automatic Fingerprint Identification System)
- Department of Homeland Security IDENT (Automated Biometric Identification System)
This combined system enables authorities to detect when those arrested are criminal aliens.
High Profile ICE Operations in Nebraska
Special agents in Nebraska have taken part in a number of operations to disrupt criminal activities in the state. Some of their successes from recent years are described below.
Stopping Child Pornographers – Since the nationwide initiative Operation Predator started in 2003, ICE agents have arrested over 140 Nebraskan individuals for their involvement with child pornography. A former youth softball coach received a five-year federal prison sentence in 2008 for having subscribed to child porn websites.
Deportation of a Fugitive Murderer – ICE special agents were involved with their counterparts in ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations and the US Marshals Service in arresting a fugitive Croatian who had been convicted of murder in 2003. The individual was identified from an INTERPOL warrant, and he was deported in 2011.
Stopping a Business Owner from Employing Illegal Aliens – Agents from ICE worked with the IRS and the Department of Labor to bring the owner of a sprinkler company in Omaha to justice in 2008. The man had knowingly employed at least 26 illegal aliens. In addition, he had cashed customer checks to avoid federal requirements that transactions of $10,000 or more be reported.