Fact Check

ICE Badges

E-mail describes ruse intended to scare away littering Mexican construction workers.

Published May 24, 2006

 (Wikimedia Commons)
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
E-mail describes ruse intended to scare away littering Mexican construction workers.

We don't know who originated the item quoted above, which began spreading (amidst a glut of other immigration-related pieces) via web sites and e-mail forwards in May 2006, but it reads like another attempt at political commentary through humor, this one also incorporating a number of stereotypes about Mexicans, Hispanics, and immigrants: The majority of them (or at least the ones who work construction jobs) are in the U.S. illegally, they have little respect for courtesy or law (as evidenced by their wanton littering), they are sent scurrying (never to return) by the sight of anyone wearing apparel emblazoned with the abbreviation "INS," etc.

We note that immigration enforcement activities (such as the rounding-up of undocumented workers) formerly handled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) are now a function of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and that government agencies don't generally give approval to third parties' using their names and/or insignia (especially when, as in the scenario described here, the specific intent is to deceive others into believing that private citizens are actually government agents).

One of the genuine difficulties faced by real ICE agents is that even when they conduct workplace raids and arrest undocumented workers (rather than simply scaring them away with their "INS" caps), their efforts are often largely ineffective because many of those arrested are quickly processed and released (without being prosecuted or deported), or the arrestees agree to deportation because they know that by volunteering to leave they can more speedily and easily return to the U.S. to resume their old jobs (or find new ones).

Variations:   Differing versions place the homeowners' association in

    • Washington, DC.
    • Topeka, Kansas
    • Dallas, Texas


Pusey, Allen.   "Many Immigrants Arrested in Raid Freed." The Dallas Morning News.   28 April 2006.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.