ICE union petition hits 75k signatures as Obama immigration policy takes convention stage

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

While President Barack Obama has been receiving plenty of praise for his immigration policies at the Democratic National Convention, a petition launched to protest his policy of “prosecutorial discretion” in immigration cases is quickly gaining steam.

The petition, which was launched August 15 by National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council president Chris Crane, has surpassed 75,000 signers despite a noticeable dearth of media attention. According to a release on the AFL-CIO and AFGE-backed ICE agents’ union website, the petition demands that ICE chief John Morton allow agents to pursue immigration cases without fear of suspension.

“This Administration’s ever-expanding policy of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ that allows certain illegal aliens to avoid deportation and even get work permits gives ICE agents the discretion to determine which illegal aliens meet the criteria originally outlined in your August 2011 memo. However, it appears that your policy of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ does not allow for any discretion whatsoever,” reads the petition.

“By threatening your law enforcement officers with suspension for exercising their discretion, you are sending the message that, rather than having discretion to determine who is eligible for amnesty, ICE officers are required to turn a blind eye anytime they encounter any illegal alien who has not been convicted of a specific violent crime, regardless of how dangerous that alien may be.”

Crane says that since the Obama administration decided to allow ICE agents to be able to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to pursue action against an illegal alien, the only choice they’ve really been allowed to make is to release the illegal aliens back into the United States population.

At the Democratic National Convention, however, liberals are rejoicing at Obama’s new administrative orders to stop deportation of select illegal immigrants. Democrats welcomed illegal immigrant Benita Veliz to speak at the DNC on Wednesday, and the party’s platform praises Obama’s move to halt deportations of illegal aliens.

When ICE agents have decided to pursue deportation, arrests, or detention of illegal aliens under the prosecutorial discretion policy, Crane says they’ve been subject to retaliation by the government.

The petition includes a reference to an ICE agent who was disciplined  earlier this summer for trying to detain an illegal immigrant shortly after President Obama made his Rose Garden speech introducing the Department of Homeland Security’s new immigration policy.

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions has been fighting Morton for answers on the incident. In an Aug. 3 letter to Morton demanding more information about the incident, Sessions said reports indicated an ICE agent had been “served with a ‘Notice Proposed Suspension’ for arresting an individual whom the agent observed entering the vehicle of an alien wanted for criminal activity in Newark, Delaware, and whom the agent later determined to be a 35-year-old illegal alien with ten previous convictions for traffic violations, including driving without a license.”

“According to the report, a memorandum by Assistant Field Office Director David O’Neill sates that the agent was told to release the detained alien even though he was in the country illegally,” Sessions continued. “When the agent refused, he was threatened with a three-day suspension. It is my understanding that the acting field director advised the criminal alien that he would be let go because he was not a ‘presidential priority.’”

Crane’s petition website describes the threatened ICE agent as a “military veteran” who’s spent 18 years since in law enforcement. The website adds that if nothing is done to stop the disciplinary action, the agent “will be fired and lose all retirement benefits earned if he attempts to exercise prosecutorial discretion again in the future.”

Crane’s website adds that that agent’s story is hardly an anomaly. “Reports are now emerging of ICE agents using their prosecutorial discretion, but then being punished if they determine an illegal alien should be put in deportation proceedings,” the site reads.

The petition website also describes how more than a year ago, in August 2011, Morton released a memo “to all ICE agents in which he outlined criteria allowing them to use their ‘prosecutorial discretion’ to determine if an illegal alien is eligible to avoid deportation.”

That so-called “Morton Memo,” Crane’s website says, “laid the groundwork for President Obama’s Executive DREAM Amnesty announced earlier this summer allowing certain illegal aliens to remain in the United States and get work permits.”

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