Jade, Maguire Fellow in North Texas

Field. Trip. Two words adults don’t often utter unless they’re referring to their school-aged children. To date, I’ve gone on two of my very own, grown-up field trips without having to chaperone my two gorgeous children and 40 of their nearest and dearest.

My fellow interns and I visited the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) office in Irving a couple of weeks ago. ICE, the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security, works with various law enforcement partners to protect the country from threats, both foreign and domestic.

The agency is comprised of three primary divisions: Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”), Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and Management and Administration (“M&A”). This visit stressed the ERO side of the agency’s work. In short, ERO identifies and removes illegal immigrants “who present a danger to national security [, a] risk to public safety, or defy our country’s immigration laws.” Seeing how the process begins in illegal re-entry cases helped close the circle for me. Shaking the hands of the ICE agents whose names grace the documents I use in my research was pretty cool, as well.

Last week, we went to the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville. A low-security federal correctional institution with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp and a detention center, the facility impressed me with how nice the grounds and staff were. The grounds boast soccer and softball fields and covered gazebos. Arguably, maybe it was too nice for a prison.

While we didn’t visit the Special Housing Unit (“SHU”) – no matter where I go, acronyms follow! So many acronyms, so little time – the worst of the facility we saw featured sun-dappled community rooms, cable TV and men sleeping two to a cell. The inmates are able to work in the textile factory making military field uniforms, in the cafeteria, barber shop, on the janitorial staff and even as peer tutors in the on-campus GED and college classrooms. Pretty cush.

Other field trips this summer will include an opportunity to tour ATF, the US Postal Service Inspection center, and the FBI. Can’t wait!