Unicorn Riot obtained confidential Department of Homeland Security manuals showing how DHS’s largest investigative arm, Homeland Security Investigations, advised its agents to conduct their operations. Part 3 of the Icebreaker series turns to the “Compliance Enforcement Investigations” and “Fugitives” handbooks, ICE/HSI manuals that lay out how the security agency tracks people, runs database checks and various forms of enforcement against immigrants and student visa holders. Both manuals were provided to Unicorn Riot by an anonymous source. They have not been released previously and are marked “Official Use Only”.
In the 26-page Fugitives Handbook, issued April 9, 2010, Fugitive reports, international coordination and case management are the major features of the Fugitive manual, along with chains-of-command and tracking systems like TECS (formerly Treasury Enforcement Communications System). This manual was superseded by a 2015 version, according to this FOIA covering 2016 handbook titles from GovernmentAttic.org (PDF).
The 37-page Compliance Enforcement Investigations Handbook issued January 25, 2010 provides an intricate view of HSI’s internal structure. Some programs have been superseded (including NSEERS) but a wealth of low-profile systems are outlined here. The 2016 handbook titles FOIA does not reference any “compliance” manuals, so it is likely that after 2010 it was later divided into different or renamed manuals.
Compliance Enforcement Investigations Handbookcompliance-handbook-full-hsi
Page numbers (e.g. “p5”) are the numbers of the page as the PDF file has them numbered, not the numbers printed on the footer. Download the full PDF here.
p2: The National Compliance Program oversight is with the Unit Chief of the Compliance Enforcement Unit, National Security Investigations Division.
p3-4: Table of Contents highlights terms like Advanced Visual Abstracted Links and Name Collection Handler Engine, Designated School Official, Lead-Trac Database, and so on.
p5: This manual “explains the components of the Compliance Enforcement Program”, and specific programs to track immigrant status changes, “identifies nonimmigrants who fail to comply with immigration laws,” standards for case development, handling leads, “management accountability and proper tracking and control.” Claims this was a problem that contributed to 9/11. In June 2003 Compliance Enforcement Unit (CEU) within National Security Investigations Division established to pursue “visa violators”.
p6-7: AVALANCHE, the Advanced Visual Abstracted Links and Name Collection Handler Engine “is a database developed by the ICE Office of Intelligence that enables users to perform key-word and biographic searches of 15 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) systems simultaneously”. These are:
- Central Index System (CIS) Computer Linked Automated Information Management System (CLAIMS) at Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Service Center(Partial)
- Criminal Investigative Reporting System (CIRS) Subject Data: Archives from defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
- Deportable Alien Control System (DACS) (Partial), replaced by Enforcement Case Tracking System (ENFORCE) Alien Removal Module (EARM) in August 2008
- “Searches against ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and DHS unclassified intelligence reports. Access to these reports is also available from the DHS Operations Intelligence Fusion website (https://intel.ice.dhs.gov).”
- Enforcement Integrated Database (EID), “the data warehouse for information entered in ENFORCE and the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS)”. (NSEERS is now defunct)
- LeadTrac: “visa overstays and absconders. LeadTrac is an OI database used by CEU, with “Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT).”
- National Targeting Center: Customs and Border Patrol daily operation reports
- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) No Fly List.
- The TSA Selectee List
- SEVIS Exchange Visitor and SEVIS Exchange Visitor Dependents visas
- SEVIS Students and SEVIS Student Dependents
- Social Security Non-Authorized Worker Data
“AVALANCHE is located on the DHS Operations Intelligence Fusion website and is available to all SAs (Special Agents). The web address is https://intel.ice.dhs.gov.”
Alien Change of Address Request (form AR-11) is available through TeleView.
p8: Other jargon including Alien Flight Student Program, Arrival Departure Information System, Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT), Central Index System, a master records system, Computer Linked Automated Information Management System (CLAIMS),Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) at the Department of State.
p9: More jargon including Enforcement Case Tracking System Database (ENFORCE), part of “alien apprehension processing” which contains the NSEERS module. It is the main user interface with Enforcement Integrated Database (EID).
ENFORCE Alien Removal Module (EARM) “is a web-based application that supports case management activities for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations” and “is the official system of record for removal operations”.
Enforcement Integrated Database (EID) “is the data warehouse of information entered in ENFORCE and is the DHS common database repository for enforcement applications.”
Fingerprint Identification Number (FIN) “is the primary unique subject fingerprint reference used by DHS. FIN is generated by IDENT and US-VISIT.”
p10: LeadTrac “database is a stand-alone compliance enforcement database utilized to store, track, and manage nonimmigrant status violator information.”
Secondary Inspection Tool (SIT) “corroborate the subject’s identity, and to assess the risk that the subject’s presence in the United States may pose.”
p11: Significant Event Notification (SEN) is a system full of Significant Incident Reports (SIR).
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) controls student visas. It is controlled by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program within ICE.
“Web-based commercial databases, such as Accurint, AutoTrack XP, and the Consolidated Lead Evaluation and Reporting database,” have millions of records with special law enforcement access.
p12-14: Chain of command and US statutes.
p15-16: Compliance enforcement programs and procedures especially when NSEERS kicked in in 2002-2003.
p18: Special Registration Interview and CEU NSEERS Enforcement Process
p19: SEVIS student visa management. School certification review “includes an investigation into reports of suspected illegal activity, an assessment of any regulatory non-compliance, and consideration of a school’s level of cooperation with field agents.”
p20: “ICE’s requests for information from schools for SEVP enforcement purposes are exempt from the requirements under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. Schools are legally bound to provide information requested by ICE.” Deadlines: “information requested on an individual student within 3 workdays, and within 10 workdays for a class of students (i.e., all students in a particular major or of a certain nationality).”
p21: Decertifying schools and authority to ban school officials from SEVIS. SEVIS related investigation codes in TECS.
p22-24: “The US-VISIT Program (see Section 3.28) is the centerpiece of the U.S. Government’s efforts to transform our nation’s border management and immigration systems in a way that meets the needs and challenges of the 21st century.” Also, Biometric Watch List is fed by data including “extracts from the … (FBI) Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System’s (IAFIS) Criminal Master File”. (The Criminal Master File is a major component of the FBI’s overall system). Describes collecting exit biometrics.
p24: Automated Biometric Identification System: “IDENT was developed in 1995 to assist the U.S. Border Patrol in identifying illegal aliens with multiple attempted illegal entries (recidivists). Since then, IDENT has grown from 5,000 subjects to over 50 million subjects.”
p24-25: International Criminal Police Organization – A biometric system developed with INTERPOL. Includes getting fingerprints from INTERPOL into US-VISIT and then uploaded to IDENT.
p26: Visa Revocation including “on national security grounds”. “When DOS revokes a visa because of terrorism concerns, OI ensures that the proper investigative actions are taken.” In this context OI means HSI’s immediate predecessor organization, the ICE “Office of Investigation”.
p26: In many visa revocation cases, classified derogatory information related to the subject exists. Should SAs require access to classified information regarding the individual, HQ contact information is contained in the initial Report of Investigation (ROI). The ICE Reporting and Operations Center is a secure contact available to SAs on a 24/7 basis and allows updated classified derogatory information relating to the target to be provided in a timely manner to requesting SAs. Additionally, the SAC Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) representative has access to classified derogatory information.”
Lack of judicial review for great flexibility: “Generally, revocations by DOS are not reviewed by courts under the doctrine of consular nonreviewability. This protection from judicial review gives DOS great flexibility to revoke visas on a low threshold of information.”
p27: Alien Flight Student Program since April 2005 evaluating flight training students. Visa Waiver Enforcement Program (VWEP) covers “vulnerabilities in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)” and “identifies potentially high-risk participants who
overstay their term of admission in the United States and assigns investigations to OI field offices. VWP non-immigrant overstays are not entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge”. “While aliens who enter, or attempt to enter the United States under the VWP have extremely limited forms of relief available, it is not accurate to state that they are not entitled to any due process.”
p28-29: Compliance Enforcement Investigations. “CEU prioritizes the information based on the potential threat to national security or public safety and forwards the information to research analysts for further review.” including leads from the systems named above. ADIS, AR-11, AutoTrac, AVALANCHE, CCD, CIS, CLAIMS, EARM, ENFORCE, Law Enforcement Analysis Data System (NETLeads), National Crime Information Center, RAPS, SIT, SEVIS, TECS and US Postal Service should all be tracked. All nonimmigrant status violators are documented in LeadTrac.
p29: LeadTrac is internal to CEU and maintained at HQ, managed by research analysts and program managers.
p29: “CEU works closely with the Intelligence Community to maintain a risk-based matrix with which to prioritize the hundreds of thousands of potential status violators that CEU reviews annually. All nonimmigrant status violators identified as viable for further field investigation are reviewed by HQ CEU Program Managers. HQ CEU Program Managers initiate a TECS case for each nonimmigrant status violator and prepare the case for dissemination to the appropriate OI field office”.
p29-30: Coordinating case management, reporting and database review. “Collateral investigation requests” look at contacting relatives, petitioners, sponsors, school officials and “known associates”.
p31: Investigation steps such as checking addresses and Google, and subpoenaing phone and email accounts.
p32: Turning a target into an informant is another goal: “SAs should be mindful of the potential for terrorist conspiracies and/or criminal activity associated with, or known by, the subject of the CEU collateral investigation. If the individual maintains significant information related to other criminal activities, a consideration should be made, in accordance with OI policy on informants, to recruit the individual as a source of information. During the investigation, SAs should make every effort to recruit sources of information from the targets of the CEU collateral, as well as from others interviewed during the course of the investigation.”
“Terrorist Nexus Indicators” include “precursor chemicals, anti-government literature, and maps of high interest areas.” Also: “Possession of extremist or anti-American literature or media; Books or materials on law enforcement procedures; Presence of chemical stains or burns and rusted metal items within a dwelling; Evidence of storage rental units; Indications of extensive research into mass transit systems and airports; and Possession of large numbers of calling cards or cellular telephones.” So even reading these very documents is a “terrorist indicator”.
p33: For deportation, a Seized Asset and Case Tracking System
p34: Old documents from the ICE Office of Investigations (OI) section from 2004-2009 that this document supercedes including 2006 “Operation United Front” memos.
p35-37: Three pages of acronyms.
Page numbers (e.g. “p5”) are the numbers of the page as the PDF file has them numbered, not the numbers printed on the footer. Download the full PDF here.
p6-7: Statutory authorities
p7-8: Definitions including Fugitive Report.
p8-11: Responsibilities including National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC). National Fugitive Program Manager. Special Agents in Charge (SAC) of field offices may roll cases to US Marshals Service. Responsibilities for making and distributing the “ICE Ten Most Wanted” poster are carefully allocated.
p11: Various sectors of the Fugitive Report and specific invalid excuses for late paperwork
p12: Apprehension responsibility including coordination with US Marshals Service through Memoranda of Understanding (MOU, documents that glue different agencies together).
p13: Transitioning from the old US Customs Service Office of Investigation (USCS OI) as Department of Homeland Security rearranged structure to create ICE-HSI.
p14: International investigations. The National Fugitive Program Manager handles international contacts including international bureaux like DOJ-OIA and INTERPOL’s US National Central Bureau (USNCB). “ICE OIA Attache” offices are supposed to advance searches internationally.
p14: A “provisional arrest warrant” is initated by a US Attorney. This is “instant notification” that “the US Attorney has authorized extradition and prosecution”. The DOJ OIA Fugitive Unit works with US Marshals, FBI, DEA, ICE, IRS, Secret Service, US Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the State Department, and other agencies.
p15: DOJ OIA Fugitive Unit maintains files on fugitives
p15: Interpol National Central Bureau is connection to “the I-24/7 Secure Messaging System, which is an official channel of international communication that is recognized by many law enforcement agencies throughout the world.” USNCB handles all contact with international and domestic police. It also can issue international Red Notices.
p15-17: International Red Notices. For requesting arress with extradition. While similar to arrest warrants, they aren’t, and “generally require the support of a provisional arrest warrant”.
p17: If there is no support for extradition use a Blue Notice. It serves as an “international lookout” for subjects, witnesses and fugitives. US Attorneys are not required to get a Blue Notice.
p17: Alerts for “career criminals” including violent crimes, child sex offenders and “confirmed gang members” to “promote officer safety and do not expire”.
p17: Case management: LESC analyzes information and forwards them to Special Agents in Charge (SAC).
p18-19: Entering case tracking codes in TECS.
p20: Entering fugitive records to National Crime Information Center in joint agency investigations. The lead agency should control the files and try not to make duplicates. TECS files are supposed to support the entries in NCIC.
p20-21: Reporting periods: should be within a day a warrant is issued.
p23: DHS Form 59, the Fugitive Report form (Oct 2009 version)
p24: Instructions for Fugitive Report.
p25-26: Almost two pages of acronyms.
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Unicorn Riot will continue the Icebreaker series with more confidential law enforcement manuals in the weeks to come. If you have information or comments to share about ICE either on the record or on background please contact [email protected] with “ICE” in the subject line.