By Kevin Rudden Staff Reporter/Columnist
October 28, 2011
If you want to know why people don't like "big government," look no further than ICE.
"Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the second largest investigative agency in the federal government. Created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, ICE now has more than 20,000 employees in offices in all 50 states and 47 foreign countries," according to the agency's website.
Yet, not one of those 20,000 people seems to care about what goes on in Milford. How else can you explain their indifference to the death of Matt Denice? The federal agency issued a statement last week claiming it had no responsibility with failing to notify the Milford Police Department that a key witness cut off an ICE GPS tracking bracelet. Local police talk how ICE was not at all helpful in efforts to find out whether that witness fled the country.
When the Board of Selectmen requested a meeting with ICE officials to discuss problems the town is having with illegal immigrants, the agency requested a private meeting to protect the identity of its agents. Yet, when the agency met with selectmen on October 17, the "suits" who attended were clearly not the folks you would expect to see conducting undercover operations.
Since the police chief, state representative and state senator also joined that "executive session," the idea of keeping agents' identities' secret seems very implausible. To me, that justification was just a smokescreen explanation for what probably was a forum for ICE to listen to local officials and state legislators "vent" their frustrations.
Our Springfield-based congressman, Richard Neal, is now promising to ask for a federal investigation into ICE's conduct. Whatever the results may be, it will be too little, too late.
I found an interesting quote posted on ICE's website: On September 9, agency Director John Morton wrote: "We all remember where we were, who we were with and what we were doing on Sept. 11, 2001. As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the most horrific terrorist attacks in American history, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the thousands that lost their lives that day. Those of us here at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) extend our condolences to families that lost loved ones. We work tirelessly to make our nation safer and more secure and want you to know that we're thinking of you."
Maybe that quote works for ICE for its remembrance of September 11, 2001. But, it sure doesn't hold true for the tragedy that happened in Milford on August 20, 2011. Matt Denice's family deserves a whole lot more than ICE is giving them.