Matthew Albence

Matthew Albence

Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

also Deputy Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement


Matthew Albence was a senior leader of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during a time period in which the agency was directly involved implementing some of the Trump administration’s harshest, anti-immigrant policies. Under Albence, ICE increased targeting and deportation of families and unaccompanied minors. Albence also defended the administration’s policies, blaming migrant parents for family separations and comparing detention centers to summer camps.

Vilifying Immigrants and Separating Families

  • The family separation program was executed during Albence’s time at ICE, and Albence publicly defended the program before Congress and blamed migrant parents for family separations. [NBC News, 08/13/19]
  • Albence defended ICE raids across Mississippi, which separated migrant children from their parents, and then subsequently blamed the parents as children were “abandoned.” [NBC News, 08/13/19]
  • Albence described ICE’s family detention centers, which had come under fire for numerous allegations of sexual and other forms of abuse, as “like a summer camp.” [Associated Press, 07/13/18]
  • After ICE publicly said that would begin to reunite families separated under the “zero tolerance” policy, Albence privately confessed that ICE lacked the data to link children to their families in order to begin to the process. [VICE, 05/02/19]

News Coverage and Headlines

  • “Matthew Albence, the acting No. 2 official at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, described family detention centers set up to shelter migrants as ‘more like a summer camp.’ ‘These individuals have access to 24/7 food and water,’ Mr. Albence said. ‘They have educational opportunities. They have recreational opportunities, both structured as well as unstructured.’” [New York Times, 07/31/18]
  • HEADLINE: “Acting ICE Chief Defends Mississippi Raids that Left Children Abandoned, Blames Parents” [NBC News, 08/13/19]
  • HEADLINE “Emails Show Trump Administration Lied About Its Ability to Reunite Families Separated at the Border” [VICE, 05/02/19]