As Comic-Con International attendees spent the past week reminiscing about their favorite moments from the annual comic convention in San Diego, California, work is just beginning for agents of ICE DISH, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Illegal Superheroes.
In an inaugural appearance at the popular event, ICE DISH sent a community outreach team to Comic-Con 2014. According to representatives, this was part of a concerted effort to raise awareness about the agency and their mission among the public. The annual Comic-Con International meeting is a rare opportunity for agents to connect with those who are invested in the comic community, and may have direct information about the whereabouts of illegal superheroes in the United States.
ICE DISH agent Chad Chavez (pronounced Shevez) said, "Comic-Con is a mass-scale gathering that attracts many people who support illegal superheroes and illegal superhero propaganda. But they may not realize that the superheroes they're supporting are illegal. People are seldom aware that illegal superheroes undermine our nation's laws and are a threat to national security. We're here to raise awareness about the issue and the ICE DISH mission. And as always, we encourage folks to report any suspicious illegal superhero activity."
Throughout the convention, ICE-DISH agents spoke with Comic-Con participants about the issue of illegal superheroes. A college student from Los Angeles expressed surprise that so many of his favorite childhood superheroes were in the United States illegally.
"We see this all the time," said Agent Ray Jin. "The lack of awareness is concerning, but that's why we do what we do."
Another comic fan from Seattle wanted more information about legal superheroes.
Tanner White, Director of ICE-DISH, offered an explanation of legal versus illegal superheroes during a telephone interview.
"An illegal superhero is a superhero/superheroine who has entered the country illegally and is unlawfully present. If he/she has overstayed his/her allotted time and has not renewed a visa or is not following the required provisions of a visa, the superhero is considered a 'status violator.' Superheroes who enter this country without proper authorization are breaking the law and they are subject to removal at any time. Legal superheroes are superheroes who were born here or are in the country legally."
Among the highlights of Comic-Con are the visitors who dress in elaborate costumes to resemble their favorite characters. For ICE-DISH agents, costumes present a unique challenge.
According to Chief of Staff Alanna Haight, "the event takes over a major city just within the country's borders, so that makes it more of a target for us. The setting and circumstances make it possible for illegal superheroes to roam free, camouflaged in the spectacle, particularly among individuals who are referred to as cosplayers. It can be dangerous to have illegal and legal superheroes together."
Director White says the agency is eager to hear President Obama's thoughts on the issue of illegal superheroes when he announces his new plan for addressing immigration later this month. Director White encourages the public to report illegal superhero activity by calling 1 (844) 4-ICE-DISH, or visiting www.icedish.org.