- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The head of the union for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sent a letter to President Obama on Tuesday asking to be included in future meetings he has on immigration after the agents were left out of White House talks with business groups and immigrant-rights activists.

Chris Crane, president of the 7,000-member National ICE Council, said it was troubling that Mr. Obama had met with those pushing for legalization, but that the president hadn’t asked the agents responsible for enforcing the laws to take part.

“These measures would have significant implications for interior immigration enforcement, and I believe our officers — who risk their lives every day to secure the nation — have a crucial perspective to offer,” Mr. Crane said in the letter, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Times.

Mr. Crane is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, and he testified before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

But he has not been included in the meetings the White House has hosted for business groups, Hispanic members of Congress, immigrant-rights activists and others who are backing the president’s push for legalizing the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

The White House did not return a message seeking comment on Mr. Crane’s request.

Other union representatives have been included in the White House meetings, underscoring the split within the labor community: major national union leaders back Mr. Obama, but that support doesn’t always translate to members themselves.

Last week the White House hosted a meeting with police officers and sheriffs from across the country who also support legalizing illegal immigrants.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano was also at that meeting, and she said the administration has made big strides to crack down on illegal border crossings.

She said that has carved out enough legislative space for Congress to now turn its attention to legalizing illegal immigrants, which she said would help law enforcement do its job by reducing the number of people here illegally and, she hopes, reducing the demand for smuggling and for future illegal immigration.

Mr. Crane has filed a lawsuit against Ms. Napolitano, challenging the new nondeportation policies that make most illegal immigrants ineligible for deportation — policies that the ICE agents say force them to ignore their own sworn duty to uphold the law.

Indeed, at Wednesday’s hearing Mr. Crane will testify alongside an illegal immigrant called to testify by Senate Democrats. Under the Obama policies, that illegal immigrant is considered a low priority for deportation.