ICE arrested R. Kelly.

Yes, THAT agency arrested R. Kelly.  Every day there are calls for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be abolished or politicians saying the agency was “ill-conceived” post 9/11.

But ICE is at the forefront of arresting child predators, including investigating alleged offenders like R. Kelly.  ICE put cuffs on over 8,000 egregious child predators since DHS was created. What is the solution if we take ICE away?


This past Friday, the New York Police Department (NYPD) and get this, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), arrested Robert Sylvester Kelly. You may know him as multimedia star, R. Kelly.  The very agency that many Democrats want to abolish is locking up alleged sex offenders, including Kelly. Kelly faces a litany of federal charges, from sexual exploitation of children, to kidnapping, and trafficking women for sex, to child pornography.


R. Kelly’s Enterprise was not only engaged in music; as alleged, for two decades the enterprise at the direction of R. Kelly preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar, soon turned into a nightmare of rape, child pornography, and forced labor. The musician turned predator allegedly used his stardom to coax some victims into nefarious sex acts while certain members of his enterprise calculatingly facilitated the aberrant conduct. Today’s indictment charging racketeering is a clear indication of the extent of his criminal activity, which involves coercion and kidnapping,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “This investigation was built with the foresight of special agents and detectives assigned to the joint HSI and NYPD Public Safety Task Force, along with prosecutors of the Eastern District of New York’s Civil Rights Section. R. Kelly believed he could fly, but it will be justice to see his oppressive wings clipped.”



Guess who arrested accused child predator, R. Kelly? ICE did. That's who.


The fact is that ICE functions are not new.  ICE is a combination of the legacy agencies such as the U.S. Customs Service (USCS) and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  Agents working under the same federal laws but operating as USCS or INS agents conducted the same enforcement actions as they do now under ICE. ICE is broken down into two law enforcement branches; Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with about 40% of resources going to immigration enforcement. 

Outside of immigration enforcement, HSI conducts complex investigations into crimes with an international nexus such as terrorism, child exploitation, sex trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering, and major narco-smuggling cases. 


R&B Star R. Kelly (Screenshot Fox News)


I worked for both legacy organizations and know firsthand that these functions are an absolute necessity for investigating criminal acts with a foreign nexus.  If not ICE, then who? Would the same law enforcement staff that is employed by ICE be fired and rehired under a different to-be-named organization? Do we hire thousands and thousands of new agents? I hear a lot of #abolishICE rhetoric but no solutions.  

Jason Piccolo (@DRJasonPiccolo) is a former Border Patrol agent, ICE special agent, and DHS supervisor. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and author of Unwavering: A Border Agent’s Journey from Hunter to Hunted.