During a Wednesday afternoon conference call, ICE agents union head Chris Crane hammered the so-called Gang of Eight and the Obama administration for supposedly failing to focus on enforcing immigration laws.
“The plan of the Gang of Eight appears to be legalization, or amnesty first, and then enforcement. That is a big problem for us,” Crane told reporters, noting that none of the immigration plans laid out so far has offered a framework for “stronger interior enforcement.”
He charged that those currently considering immigration reform are more focused on legalization than addressing illegal immigration.
The National ICE Council, Crane’s union of more than 7,000 ICE officers and staff, has been calling on the White House and the Gang of Eight to hear their concerns about immigration reform and the need for a focus on enforcement first.
Their requests for a meeting from both players have gone unanswered.
Crane explained that while his union is open to new ideas, history has shown that without a priority on enforcement of the law, problems will persist.
“If we don’t take care of the enforcement part of this first, it will never happen. The only thing that will happen will be that 11 million illegal aliens will be legalized, and 10 to 20 years from now the nation will again be facing the influx of another 10-20 million illegal aliens,” he said. “And all the problems and expenses associated with that we will be right back to where we are right now, with a failed immigration system.”
The ICE union president went on to point out that enforcement has fallen by the wayside due to political decisions that have been more forceful than the laws Congress has enacted.
“Our officers cannot enforce the laws on the street, because of politics,” Crane said. “ICE officers are now almost exclusively restricted to making immigration arrests inside of jails and prisons. So someone else has to arrest the illegal alien, another agency or police officer has to arrest the illegal alien first for criminal charges before an ICE agent can even attempt to enforce U.S. immigration law or make an immigration arrest.”
He offered anecdotes about how officers are unable to prosecute document fraud and how the officers stack up the phony documents like baseball cards. Crane went on to highlight one facet of immigration law that the Gang of Eight has failed to address publicly.
“Additionally, there are U.S. immigration laws giving officers the ability to charge and arrest individuals who are themselves public charges — individuals who come to the U.S. to take advantage of our welfare system. While the laws exist, ICE agents are prohibited from enforcing them,” he said.
“All of these authorities have been delegated to our officers by Congress. They are outlined in statute but prohibited by a handful of political leaders and political appointees who, for reasons beyond our understanding, have the ability to override our laws enacted by Congress,” he continued. “So when we say that we have no faith in future promises of enforcement, we base that on a total lack of enforcement that is happening right now regarding the laws already on the books.”
Crane concluded by explaining that mass legalization will not make ICE’s job easier, saying that last year alone ICE deported 225,000 convicted criminal aliens, with only 5,000 immigration agents nationwide.
“We are not even scratching the surface on the criminal alien problem in the United States,” he said. “So when the magic wand is waved over 11 million illegal aliens and they suddenly become legal, we anticipate that millions could be criminals, but now they will have legal rights. So ICE will still be required to enforce immigration law against all 11 million until they become citizens, but our ability to enforce those laws will be far more difficult and far more time intensive.”