By COLLEEN LONG
December 30, 2018 5:07 pm TPM.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The officers suit up in the pre-dawn darkness, wrapping on body armor, snapping in guns, pulling on black sweat shirts that read POLICE and ICE.
They gather around a conference table in an ordinary office in a nondescript office park in the suburbs, going over their targets for the day: two men, both with criminal histories. Top of the list is a man from El Salvador convicted of drunken driving.
U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement’s enforcement and removal operations, like the five-person field office team outside Richmond, hunt people in the U.S. illegally, some of whom have been here for decades, working and raising families. Carrying out President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies has exposed ICE to unprecedented public scrutiny and criticism, even though officers say they’re doing largely the same job they did before the election — prioritizing criminals.
But they have also stepped up arrests of people who have no U.S. criminal records. It is those stories of ICE officers arresting dads and grandmothers that pepper local news. Officers are heckled and videotaped. Some Democratic politicians have called for ICE to be abolished.
ICE employees have been threatened at their homes, their personal data exposed online, officials said.