The head of the union that represents the interior enforcement officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) called the new amnesty plan being discussed by the so-called Gang of 8 a recipe for disaster because it’s happening even as officers, like those he represents, are more and more constricted in their enforcement of current immigration laws.
Chris Crane is president of the National ICE Council, the union that represents interior enforcement ICE agents, and on a conference call with reporters he warned that the current proposal being discussed by the Gang of 8 will lead to millions of criminals being released onto American streets.
“When the magic wand is waved and over eleven million people are legalized, we know that millions of them will be criminals,” said Crane. He then pointed out that those individuals will then need to be tracked down by agents like those Crane represents.
Crane held the conference call following controversial comments by the lead Democrat on the Gang of 8, Chuck Schumer, on a Sunday talk show. On Meet the Press on March 31, 2013, Schumer appeared to indicate that in the deal being drafted, legalization would come first and enforcement would only come afterwards.
“We’ve come to a basic agreement, which is that first, people will be legalized…Then, we will make sure the border is secure,” said Schumer (emphasis added).
Those in favor of tough border enforcement have been wary of any deal that promises so-called carrots up front with the stick of enforcement afterwards ever since conservative icon Ronald Reagan agreed to a deal to legalize millions of illegal aliens with the promise of future enforcement that never came.
Crane explained that over the last several years the policy of the Obama administration has been one of deciding that more and more suspected illegal aliens would be deemed a low priority and released. This policy goes at least as far back as the so-called Morton memo in June 2011.
The most recent controversy happened in December 2012, revealed in a story broken exclusively at the time by Front Page Magazine. In a new directive, the number of misdemeanor convictions was increased from one to three before an individual was considered a high priority. All others would subsequently be released from ICE facilities.
The sum total of policies like these, said Crane, is that in more and more instances his officers have had to release suspected illegal aliens they were investigating or had detained.
To illustrate the problem, Crane pointed out that his agents aren’t allowed to make street arrests and can only start immigration investigations on individuals arrested by other law enforcement agencies.
This is not the first time that the National ICE Council has taken on the administration on the issue of interior enforcement. The National ICE Council had an overwhelming “no confidence” vote against ICE Director John Morton in June 2011.
Crane is also a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit which claims that Department of Homeland Security policy interferes with his ability to faithfully enforce the laws of the land, as mandated by the Constitution.
Crane’s conference call came as a number of news reports suggested that the Gang of 8 might be on the verge of an agreement. Last week, Crane also made news when he announced that his union has been repeatedly ignored by both the Gang of 8 and the White House and no one representing either has met with representatives of the union.
“Because the devil would be in the detail,” said Crane, “ICE agents must be involved in the deliberation process.”
Crane warned that without his group’s input so-called immigration reform would amount to nothing more than government bureaucrats and political appointees having even more power.
“We will continue to have political appointees and presidents determining which laws will be enforced.”
With a great deal of attention being focused on budget and spending issue, the illegal immigration debate has been mostly in the background. This has happened even as many indicators point to immigration reform being farthest along. As such, it’s that much more critical that details be shared and scrutinized immediately. What Chris Crane has been saying for months should be a warning to all those who believe that strong immigration enforcement is critical to any broader reforms.
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