PLAYER PROFILE

Matthew Albence

Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Matthew Albence, the Acting Director of ICE since July 2019, is one of the more vocal opponents of so-called sanctuary cities.

“The sanctuary jurisdictions cause us to have to go out and make more arrests at large in the community,” Albence said in a February 2020 interview. The month before, he blamed the murder of 92-year-old Maria Fuertes, a resident of New York City, on sanctuary city policies, saying, “You know what? If you’re going to have a sanctuary city policy, and you know it’s going to result in people going back out onto the street to commit more crimes, at least own it. At least stand up and say, ‘Yeah, that’s our policy.’ Own it. Don’t sit there and try to push the blame onto someone else.”

Working closely with the White House, Albence developed a special task force of 100 specially trained Border Patrol agents to work with ICE officials from February to May of 2020, targeting metropolitan areas that have passed “sanctuary bills” for crackdowns with large-scale EROs. “Dedicated men and women of ICE will continue to do their job,” he said in the February interview, “regardless of the obstacles put in front of them. But these things, such as sanctuary cities, put our officers at a much greater risk than they need to be.”

Albence, who has been in law enforcement for 25 years, previously served as deputy director of ICE and as executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations, or EROs. Prior to the formation of ICE, he was a special agent with the (subsequently reorganized) U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Services.

On February 13, 2020, the Constitutional Accountability Center filed a lawsuit “alleging that Matthew Albence, the purported Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is not legally serving in that position and that any actions he takes under the authority of the office of ICE Director are therefore unlawful.”

Trump has said he prefers keeping personnel in an “acting” role, as it makes it easier to replace them if he is unhappy; likewise, Albence has said he has no desire to take on the role in a permanent capacity — both factors which point to continued flux and uncertainty within the agency.

SOURCES:

Albence’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Albence supports a more expansive approach to border security, including the Trump administration’s plan to send Border Patrol agents to sanctuary cities to help with ICE enforcement operations.

  • Border Wall

    Like most senior members of the Trump administration, Albence supports construction of the border wall and the declaration of a national emergency that helps fund it.

  • Detention

    Albence supports the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, separating and detaining children and families, saying in an August 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that immigration detention facilities are “like summer camp.”

  • Immigration Courts

    In an April 2018 statement, Albence highlighted the Department of Justice’s efforts to handle the backlog of immigration court cases by hiring 260 attorneys and 98 support staff members. In the same statement, he supported the idea of $17.7 million in construction and facility costs to accommodate this increased staff.

  • Undocumented Population

    In 2017, in his capacity as the head of ERO, Albence released a memo directing ICE officers to take action against all undocumented immigrants regardless of criminal history. “Effective immediately,” Albence wrote in February 2017, “ERO officers will take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.”

  • ICE

    As director of the agency, Albence is perhaps its greatest champion, arguing for more cooperation from local law enforcement around the country, more funding, and greater latitude to carry out EROs. Under Albence’s leadership, ICE carried out the largest workplace raid in U.S. history, arresting 680 people across six cities in Mississippi on one day in August of 2019.

  • DACA

    Albence supports rolling back protections for DACA enrollees so that they can be deported. In a January 2020 interview in which he described the agency’s planning for upcoming deportations, he said, “Those individuals may have DACA, but that doesn’t prevent us from going through the removal process.”

  • Asylum

    Albence has expressed support for President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

  • Central America Policy

    No statement found.

  • Visas

    No statement found.