Politics
[U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents capture undocumented immigrants in west Phoenix, Wednesday May 25, 2011.  (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Nick Oza) [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents capture undocumented immigrants in west Phoenix, Wednesday May 25, 2011. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Nick Oza)  

ICE agents union petitions ‘Gang of Eight’ to listen to their immigration enforcement concerns

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents union wants the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators negotiating a comprehensive immigration reform bill to consider the opinion of its members.

Stressing the “enormous consequences” such an immigration bill will have for ICE officers, National ICE Council president Chris Crane called on the eight senators to meet with his union before they finish their negotiations in a letter dispatched Monday afternoon.

Crane and his union of over 7,000 ICE officers, agents, and staff have been cautioning against hastily considered immigration legislation and have expressed the union’s lack of confidence in the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement policies.

“One of our chief concerns is that our current political leadership, particularly [ICE Director John] Morton and [Homeland Security Secretary Janet] Napolitano, have repeatedly undermined our ability to enforce duly enacted immigration law,” he wrote in the letter obtained by The Daily Caller.

“Our officers have been placed in the position of having to choose between following the law or risking the loss of their jobs, pensions and means of supporting their families.”

Crane cited the administration’s prosecutorial discretion policy for “Dreamers” and the recent release of over 2,000 illegal immigrants from detention centers due to the sequester as examples.

“A chief question for our officers is what steps you are taking to ensure these political abuses do not continue. For ICE agents and officers, the last four years have been a rollercoaster of ever-changing arrest authorities that officers believe frequently force them to violate the law,” he wrote. “No reforms to our immigration system will succeed as long as federal officials can continue to unilaterally select which laws are to be enforced — and which are not — based on their own political agendas.”

“Without reform in this area, Congress will certainly be back in the next ten years discussing legislation for yet another proposed amnesty,” Crane added.

His letter was dispatched after President Obama called for immigration negotiations in Congress to put an immigration bill on his desk quickly.

“I expect the debate to begin next month and I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible,” Obama said Monday at a naturalization ceremony.

According to Crane and his union, however, any reform will be lacking without the ICE union’s input.

“When Washington discusses immigration reform it seems like business and advocacy groups are closely involved while professional immigration agents with real world experience, training and knowledge regarding the immigration matters facing our nation are not heard,” Crane wrote.

“Fundamentally, I would implore you to consider this issue from the perspective of our officers who risk their lives everyday in a constant uphill climb to uphold the laws of the land.”

The National ICE Council is an AFL-CIO affiliate.

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