Agents’ union disavows leaders of ICE

Sees support for ‘amnesty’

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The union that represents rank-and-file field agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has unanimously passed a “vote of no confidence” for the agency’s leadership, saying ICE has “abandoned” its core mission of protecting the public to support a political agenda favoring amnesty.

The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 7,000 ICE agents and employees, voted 259-0 for a resolution saying there was “growing dissatisfaction and concern” over the leadership of Assistant Secretary John Morton, who heads ICE, and Phyllis Coven, assistant director for the agency’s office of detention policy and planning.

The resolution said ICE leadership had “abandoned the agency’s core mission of enforcing U.S. immigration laws and providing for public safety,” instead directing its attention “to campaigning for programs and policies related to amnesty and the creation of a special detention system for foreign nationals that exceeds the care and services provided to most U.S. citizens similarly incarcerated.

“It is the desire of our union … to publicly separate ourselves from the actions of Director Morton and Assistant Director Coven and publicly state that ICE officers and employees do not support Morton or Coven or their misguided and reckless initiatives, which could ultimately put many in America at risk,” the union said.

In a strongly worded statement, the union and its affiliated local councils said the integrity of the agency “as well as the public safety” would be “better provided for in the absence of Director Morton and Assistant Director Coven.”

The statement also noted that:

• The majority of ICE’s enforcement and removal officers are prohibited from making street arrests or enforcing U.S. immigration laws outside of the jail setting.

• Hundreds of ICE officers nationwide perform no law enforcement duties whatsoever because of resource mismanagement within the agency.

• ICE detention reforms have transformed into a detention system aimed at providing resortlike living conditions to criminal aliens based on recommendations not from ICE officers and field managers, but from “special-interest groups.”

• The lack of technical expertise and field experience has resulted in a priority of providing bingo nights, dance lessons and hanging plants to criminals, instead of addressing safe and responsible detention reforms for noncriminal individuals and families.

• Unlike any other agency in the nation, ICE officers will be prevented from searching detainees housed in ICE facilities, allowing weapons, drugs and other contraband into detention centers — putting detainees, ICE officers and contract guards at risk.

• Senior leadership ignores reports that ICE internal investigations by the office of professional responsibility conceal agency and supervisor misconduct and are used to retaliate against employees who make whistleblower-type disclosures or question inappropriate policies and procedures.

ICE spokesman Brian Hale said the agency meets regularly with representatives of the union to discuss its goal of ensuring public safety by focusing on finding criminal aliens and removing them from the country.

“We have fundamentally reformed immigration enforcement, and we are removing record numbers of criminal aliens because of it,” Mr. Hale said. “Half of the people we have removed so far this year have been convicted criminal aliens — up from 35 percent a year ago.

“We understand the union’s reason for engaging in creative collective-bargaining tactics and, regardless, we remain committed to working with them to address substantive issues in the interests of making our communities safer,” he said.

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