Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from the National ICE Council union wrote to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on Tuesday to express their dissatisfaction with the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. They specifically expressed concern that certain amendments may be just a political ploy to get the bill passed.
“[I]nstead of cracking down on the Administration’s abuse of power, S. 744 places unprecedented new restrictions on interior enforcement–making the current situation much worse and much more hazardous,” ICE Council president Chris Crane, an ICE agent himself and former marine, wrote. “It is as if S. 744 were explicitly written to handcuff law enforcement officials–binding their hands while giving virtually unchecked authority to executive branch officials to prevent future removals, including removals of criminal aliens.”
Crane noted that he has learned both Rubio and Cornyn are working on amendments to the bill “to address growing concerns about the bill’s problematic security and enforcement provisions.”
“I am concerned that the public commentary to date regarding your amendments has not included any mention of repairing ICE’s dismantled enforcement authorities and practices,” Crane wrote.
Crane argued that the successes of any reforms to the immigration bill are contingent upon actually fixing interior law enforcement issues, which the bill currently does not do. “Any plan is doomed to fail that does not empower ICE agents to enforce the laws enacted by Congress–and that does not put an end to the unlawful abuse of prosecutorial discretion by political appointees,” Crane wrote.
“While there has been much discussion over how S. 744 fails to establish enforcement first and fails to secure the border, less discussed is how it undermines interior enforcement and thus guarantees continuing illegal immigration and visa overstays,” Crane added. “Even the complete implementation of a biometric entry/exit system would still result in millions of future visa overstays as ICE lacks not only the resources to enforce immigration laws, but its officers are increasingly prohibited by the Administration from arresting and removing immigration violators–including convicted criminals and aliens incarcerated in jails.”
Crane said he is “eager” to discuss with Cornyn, Rubio, and their staffs details of what should be included in their amendments but has not yet received an invitation to such a meeting. In addition, he noted that they should look to bipartisan efforts in the House by Reps. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and John Barrow (D-GA) for leadership on the issue.
“Absent drastic improvements to the interior enforcement provisions, there is no doubt that S. 744 will undermine public safety, officer safety, and the constitutional rule of law, and that it will guarantee future illegal immigration,” Crane wrote. “Clearly, we will not solve our nation’s immigration problems, or fix this bill without empowering ICE agents and restoring and improving ICE’s deteriorated enforcement capacity.”
“Approximately 40 percent of all illegal immigrants currently in the United States never crossed the border illegally, but instead entered legally and overstayed their visas,” he explained. “Many dangerous aliens also enter illegally but are never removed because of dismantled ICE enforcement powers. In short, the border is only half the problem.”