By Britt Moreno
DENVER (CBS4)– The director of the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement Field Office wants to get the right message to the public when it comes to the job they do and why they do it.
“This is something you don’t do very often. You guys don’t give these on camera interviews. Why are you deciding to talk now?” asks CBS4’s Britt Moreno to Immigration Customs Enforcement Field Office Director Jeff Lynch.
He admits hearing ICE rumors that just aren’t true and he wants to set the record straight. He says the media sometimes unfairly paints the ICE picture. He wants to clear up the rumors some of the headlines depict. Lynch sits down with Britt for a rare on camera interview at ICE headquarters in Centennial.
“I think it’s good for the community and the agency to get our message across,” said Lynch.
“Criminals are top of the priority list. These people have egregious criminal histories.”
Lynch says it goes beyond them entering the country illegally. ICE agents target these people. He says agents will not questions others supposing they look or seem undocumented. Nor will they go to schools to make arrests. They will only seek out people for whom they have an arrest warrant.
“We do not do indiscriminate sweeps, roundups, dragnets whatever you want to call them.”
Lynch says agents will steer clear of what they call “sensitive locations” like houses of worship, hospitals, weddings and schools.
Lynch admits agents will make arrests at courthouses saying these are safer locations for arrests for both agents and the public. An ICE agent may not be spotted on the street because they do not wear uniforms. Lynch says agent put on ICE gear when they are arresting someone at a home.
When it comes to deporting Lynch says, “Just because we can doesn’t mean we always do.”
Lynch says agents will look at each person on a case by case basis and consider what he calls humanitarian factors like whether a person is a threat to the community.
Lynch would not discuss high profile cases saying he wants to provide those people privacy. He admitted the agency will write up releases on people however. He also says there have been no drastic changes for ICE as the country has transitioned from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.
The sweeping message is, “We focus on doing what’s right. We focus on he the bad guys and arrest public safety threats.”