He was deputy special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Homeland Security Investigations in Detroit. We brought you that story in March of 2016. We now have an update on Steve Francis who has since been promoted to Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Detroit. Mike Sarafa, with his Chaldean News co-publishers, posed a few questions to him for this issue’s One on One.
CN: Steve, remind our readers of your career path and what led you to your current position.
SF: On August 6, 2017, I was promoted to the Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Detroit, Michigan. I currently oversee all HSI enforcement operations in Michigan and Ohio. HSI special agents have broad legal authority to enforce a diverse array of federal statutes. HSI uses this authority to investigate all types of cross-border criminal activity, including: Financial crimes, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling; Commercial fraud and intellectual property theft; Cybercrimes; Human rights violations; Human smuggling and trafficking; Immigration, document and benefit fraud; Narcotics and weapons smuggling/trafficking; Transnational gang activity; Export enforcement; and, International art and antiquity theft.
I believe I am the first Chaldean American to hold a senior executive law enforcement position within the federal government. I started my law enforcement career in 1997 in Detroit and have moved around the country and am now back home in the Metro Detroit area. I believe my hard work, dedication and willingness to move throughout the country contributed to my career accomplishments.
CN: Why do you think you were selected for the job?
SF: I believe I was selected because of my experience, background and work ethic. I have always volunteered and worked extremely hard to get positions and promotions I applied for. I have always led by example with an exemplary work ethic that I developed from my Chaldean parents.
CN: Has your ethnicity been a net positive, negative or neutral in your mind in terms of career advancement?
SF: My heritage has had a positive impact on my career. As an Arabic speaking Chaldean American, I have had the opportunity to move around the country and have always been proud of my Chaldean culture and ethnicity.
CN: What is the most difficult part of your job?
SF: The most difficult part of my job is always being on the job. As you are aware, HSI special agents are “on call” 24 hours a day so therefore I have to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s a job that requires many personal sacrifices for both me and my family. That being said, I still feel that I have the best job in the world and would not change anything.
CN: What is the most satisfying part of your job?
SF: The most satisfying part of my job is leading the brave men and women of HSI and being proud of the work that we do to serve and protect our communities. This job has given me so many opportunities both within the federal government and outside the government and supporting the communities that we live in and protect.
CN: We cannot avoid the issue of deportations? What is the best advice you can give to families with loved ones who face deportation?
SF: This matter is in active litigation. As a result, I cannot comment at this time.
CN: There must be a personal tension for you at times in your work. How do you handle it?
SF: I rarely face any personal tension at work. I must admit my job can be highly stressful at times but I do everything I can to make sure that I remain fair and objective. I am extremely grateful to be in leadership position and am humbled by the great responsibility I have to the men and women of this agency and to the communities we serve. As a native of Metro Detroit, I find it personally and professionally rewarding to be able to contribute to the national security and public safety of the community I was raised in. I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact the work of our talented personnel have in ensuring the safety of our community.
CN: Many Chaldeans and others from the Middle East grew up in what could be described as police states. There is an inherent mistrust of law enforcement in the community, as a general statement. What should be done, in your opinion, to counteract these feelings?
SF: I think the best thing law enforcement officers and agencies can do is become more engaged in their communities. We need to work alongside community leaders and address any questions and concerns they may have and this is something I take every opportunity to do. These efforts build trust among our youth by supporting programs that have a positive impact on our communities.
CN: How would you advise a young person considering a career in law enforcement at the federal level?
SF: I would highly recommend that a young person considering a career in federal law enforcement career to maintain a good attitude; earn a college degree and be persistent in your career aspirations. You may not get the first job you apply for but ultimately, through hard work and dedication, you will find the law enforcement profession you are seeking.
Just 20 years ago, I was a student doing an internship with the Michigan State Police never imagining I could reach the senior executive level in federal law enforcement. But through hard work and the support of my family, mentors and so many supporters along the way, I have been entrusted to lead this great agency and this is a responsibility I proudly accept.