Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Tuesday announced a body camera pilot program for its investigative units specialized in transnational crime.
The cameras will first be assigned to special response teams and tactical teams within ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the wing of the agency that investigates transnational criminal and terrorist organizations and their movements across international borders.
According to a statement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the body camera pilot program will not immediately include ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), the side of the agency that conducts immigration enforcement raids and prosecutes undocumented immigrants for deportation.
"ICE looks forward to expanding the body worn camera pilot to ERO in the near future. The timing of the ERO pilot is dependent on the conclusion of negotiations with the ERO union," reads the statement.
The Hill reached out to the National ICE Council — the AFL-CIO-affiliated ERO union — for comment.
Still, the pilot program is the first concrete step toward implementing body camera usage at ICE, a demand that gained steam among Democrats during the Trump administration.
“With its body worn camera pilot, ICE is making an important statement that transparency and accountability are essential components of our ability to fulfill our law enforcement mission and keep communities safe,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasHillicon Valley — Biden celebrates 'right to repair' wins DHS warns electrical infrastructure an 'attractive target' for domestic extremists Hispanics sour on Biden and Democrats' agenda as midterms loom MORE in a statement.
The first HSI offices to test the new body cameras will be Houston, New York City and Newark, N.J., host to three of the busiest international airports, and to two of the busiest seaports in the United States.
“The body worn camera pilot is an effort to increase transparency between ICE and the communities we serve, enhance officer safety, and deliver on our commitment to accountability,” said Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson. “Safety of both ICE personnel and the public are the primary consideration when implementing these new technologies and tools.”