Immigration Enforcement Agent Job Description

Written by steven w. easley
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Immigration Enforcement Agent Job Description
ICE agents investigate illegal immigration. (Cloudy blue sky with rugged wire fence 3 image by fotosergio from

Immigration and customs enforcement (ICE) agents have the primary job of defending the United States from illegal immigration. The agency offers several career opportunities such as criminal investigator or special agent, deportation officers, detention and deportation officers and immigration enforcement agents. ICE is the largest investigative agency within the Department of Homeland Security. Along with other professionals in this agency, immigration enforcement agents contribute to the security and safety of our country and its borders.

Education Requirements

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, educational requirements for most positions with the federal government mirror the requirements for equivalent positions in the private section. Entry level positions for agents in the immigration and customs service typically require that the applicants complete at least a full four-year course of studies at an accredited college or university and must have at least a year of work-related experience that would be equivalent to a GS-4 grade level. This education may be a combination of successfully completed college course and law enforcement related experience. In addition to the educational requirements, the applicant must be a U.S. citizen, be able to type 40 words per minute, and pass an extensive background check, drug screening and physical fitness examinations.

Job Duties

Immigration enforcement agents investigate, identify, arrest and prosecute individuals believed to be illegal immigrants. They assist in the deportation process and escort illegal immigrants to their country of citizenship. According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, positions within the agency include criminal investigators or special agents, deportation officers, detention and deportation officers and immigration enforcement officers. Criminal investigators (special agents) are responsible for, "challenging criminal and civil investigations involving national security threats, terrorism, drug smuggling, child exploitation, human trafficking, illegal arms export, financial crimes, commercial fraud and more." Deportation officers (DO) work with support, law enforcement and administrative personnel to identify and arrest illegal aliens and process the removal of aliens from within U.S. borders. The agency also reports that detention and deportation officers, "recommend administrative procedures and policies, participate in long-range planning, and provide guidance on detention and removal operations, policies and requirements." Immigration enforcement agents (IEA) are the uniformed division of the immigration enforcement service within the United States charged with the identifying and arresting illegal aliens and processing them for removal from the country.


Advancement for Immigration Enforcement agents is the same as other government service jobs. This is based on occupational pay levels or grades. Most immigration enforcement agents enter federal civil service as a GS-5, and increases are gained at regular intervals until the full performance level is reached. Advancement beyond this performance level is based on merit. The exact pay grades on a jobs career ladder depends on the occupation.

Employment Outlook

According to the Bureau of labour Statistics, employment for government jobs is expected to increase by 10 per cent from 2008 to 2018. The agency reports that as national security remains an important issue, the demand for law enforcement personnel including special investigators and detectives will increase. As federal workers retire there will be numerous job openings to fill those positions. Job openings will vary by occupation and economic and strategic needs.


According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, during 2009 the entrance level pay rate for a GS-5 is £17,566 and the maximum level earnings were £22,837 with a step increase of £585.

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