In late June, New York State (U.S.) gubernatorial candidate, Cynthia Nixon, of Sex and the City fame, criticized America’s Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agency for the manner in which they were handling immigration on the U.S.’s southern border. She went as far as labeling the agency a “terrorist organization” and called for its abolishment.
I’m not here to debate whether or not Ms. Nixon makes a valid point. I’m not even here to debate U.S. immigration policy. But I do want to highlight that ICE does a lot more than enforce immigration law… and for that, we should be thankful.
Time and again in the news, in business, and even on this blog, we talk about the dangers of counterfeiting. You’ve heard the stories… shoddy craftsmanship, hazardous chemicals and inks, lack of safety protocols, dangerous equipment and fatal prescriptions. Even counterfeits of good quality are a threat to jobs and revenues of legitimate content creators. There’s no doubt that counterfeiting is prevalent and a problem for those that seek to buy the genuine article.
The manner in which we prevent internationally-made products from entering U.S. borders has everything to do with ICE and its sister agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The difference between the two is that CBP spends its time preventing terrorists, and their weapons, from entering U.S. borders while ICE is an investigative agency that helps prevent counterfeit goods from entering the country, in addition to their immigration responsibilities.
Last month, around the time of Ms. Nixon’s declaration, ICE investigators, in conjunction with CPB and Mexican customs officials, seized more than 181,000 counterfeit items in Laredo, Texas with a street value of nearly $43 million. This was after a $16.1 million bust the month before involving the same criminal enterprise. That’s over $59 million in counterfeit, potentially unsafe, merchandise all destined for Mexico… taken off the street by specially trained U.S. law enforcement officers.
Perhaps, both sides of the U.S. political spectrum should look at ICE’s commerce success as a win for everyone. Fakes are stopped at the U.S. border and unsuspecting consumers are made safe. But more importantly, $59 million did not fall into the nefarious hands of those that may be creating tragic situations facing families looking to make a risky, and often dangerous, border crossing.
While I applaud Ms. Nixon for her ability to rally her political party, there is often another side to every story. In the case of ICE, it is a duty to protect commerce and, ultimately, all of us… regardless of political opinion.