The National ICE Council warned President Trump on Tuesday against embracing House GOP leaders’ immigration bill, saying it amounts to an amnesty that “recklessly” repeats the mistakes of the failed Obama-era “Gang of 8” bill.
Chris Crane, president of the council, which represents thousands of ICE officers across the country and which endorsed Mr. Trump in 2016, says they are “seriously concerned” with the bill, which the president is expected to embrace when he meets with Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday evening.
The bill would open the door to massive fraud, would allow people who defied judges’ deportation orders to get on a pathway to citizenship, and fails to make good on Mr. Trump’s promise of a deportation force of 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, Mr. Crane said.
He also complained that the lawmakers who write the bill, under the auspices of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, never sought out ICE officers to get their input on what would actually work to cut illegal immigration.
“You pledged publicly to ‘have the backs’ of the men and women of ICE law enforcement. I am asking you to keep that promise,” Mr. Crane wrote in his letter to Mr. Trump.
Neither the White House nor Mr. Ryan’s office responded to requests for comment.
Mr. Crane’s letter comes just days before Mr. Ryan and fellow House GOP leaders hope to hold floor votes on their compromise bill and another, more enforcement-heavy bill sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte.
The GOP leaders’ bill would grant citizenship rights to perhaps 1.8 million illegal immigrants, combined with funding for Mr. Trump’s border wall, changes to legal immigration policy and updates to border policies that would make it easier to quickly deport newly arrived illegal immigrants.
The Goodlatte bill goes further, pushing businesses to stop hiring illegal immigrants and cracking down on repeat illegal immigrants.
Mr. Trump last week said he “wouldn’t sign” the GOP leaders’ bill, deeming it too moderate. The White House later said the president misunderstood the question and supports both pieces of legislation — and will make that clear when he meets with House Republicans Tuesday.
Mr. Crane, an ICE officer himself, says in his letter that Mr. Trump should know how far the bill falls short of his campaign promises.
In particular, he says, Mr. Trump still has yet to provide the 10,000 ICE officers — the deportation force — that he promised during the campaign. Mr. Crane said Congress can pass laws, but it takes officers and agents to enforce them.
And that means officers in the interior of the country to police people who make it past the border, or who arrived legally on travel visas but then refused to go home when their time is up. Mr. Crane pointed out that the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers arrived legally but some had fallen out of status. More Border Patrol agents wouldn’t have caught that, but more ICE officers may have.
He said there are less than 5,000 ICE officers to police about 40 million legal and illegal immigrants spread throughout the country.
“After spending years fighting for staffing increases at ICE in the name of public safety, House Republicans have suddenly abandoned their positions and instead now fight to keep ICE dangerously understaffed,” Mr. Crane wrote.
“In keeping with the infamous ‘Gang of 8’ amnesty bill, boots on the ground law enforcement officers were excluded by Republicans from having input on both new bills. The same House Republicans who condemned the Gang of 8 and Obama administration for not including out input, have now done the exact same thing,” he wrote.