In the midst of Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, ICE officers like myself have been thrust into the national spotlight. The added attention has made my already difficult job more stressful, but there is one aspect of it that always keeps me going. As an ICE agent, I’m grateful that I get to work with children, because it is by far the best part of my job.
Even on the hardest days as an immigration agent, seeing the little ones always reminds me why I got into this line of work. Whether I’m asking them if they know where their parents are or carefully explaining that they’re going to have a new home soon, that childhood innocence is what gets me up in the morning.
I’ve found that the benefits of working with children in my line of work are seemingly countless, but one that stands out the most is just how much these kids actually end up teaching me. For example, when a child asks me, “Where are you taking my parents?” I’m instantly inspired by their curious, inquisitive nature, and am reminded to hold onto my own childlike wonder as best I can. In moments like these, while I’m picking a young boy’s brain about his parents’ visa statuses, I learn more than I ever could in some boring desk job, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
When I have time to reflect, I know that the kids I encounter every day will remember my face for the rest of their lives, and that’s what makes this all worthwhile.
This isn’t to say that being an ICE officer is for everyone, because it’s not. I know plenty of agents who don’t find the same thrill in finding out about where these children are from and, by extension, where they and their parents are going. Outside of getting the children’s photographs and addresses to put in our system for profiling and surveillance, it’s almost like they have no interest in even remembering them. I, on the other hand, cherish the relationships I build with the community, and nothing brings me more pleasure than tailing these adorable kiddos to see if they can lead me right to a big arrest.
The debate about immigration doesn’t look to be going away any time soon, as the president’s attitude toward the issue becomes increasingly harsher by the day and ICE agents like me are continuing to deport more foreign nationals. With everything that’s going on in America today, it’s nice knowing that I’ll be just fine, so long as I can continue to make a real difference in these immigrant children’s lives.