White House Sits in on 'Gang of Eight'; Law Enforcement Excluded

White House Sits in on 'Gang of Eight'; Law Enforcement Excluded

The bipartisan Senate group pushing immigration reform, dubbed the “Gang of Eight,” has allowed a representative from President Barack Obama’s White House to be involved in writing their bill but has not even tried to meet with representatives from the law enforcement community, particularly Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

“While Obama has allowed Senate negotiators to work on a compromise that can win approval, a White House staff member attends each staff-level meeting to monitor progress and assist with the technical aspects of writing the bill,” the Washington Post‘s Scott Wilson and Zachary Goldfarb reported on Sunday.

Even though the Gang of Eight–Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Michael Bennet and Bob Menendez–has allowed the White House into meetings, ICE officers union president Chris Crane notes that his group has been kept completely out of the discussion on immigration reform.

“We have tried for weeks, unsuccessfully, to get a meeting with the Gang of 8 in order to share our deep concerns about the breakdown of interior enforcement in America,” Crane said in the statement released on Sunday.  

“ICE’s political leadership, specifically Secretary Napolitano and Director Morton, have repeatedly and dangerously undermined the ability of ICE officers and agents to do their jobs and ensure the constitutionally established rule of law is upheld. Yet, while the Gang of 8 has, as reported for months, worked extensively with powerful interest groups, ICE officers–like the public–have been shut out. Now we understand from media reports that the Gang of 8 is preparing to drop a 1,500 page bill on Tuesday, and pass it as quickly as possible, without having received any input from rank-and-file ICE officers.

“If the Gang is truly committed to enforcement and public safety they should be eager to provide our officers with an opportunity to review this legislation and offer detailed input before it is introduced,” Crane added. “I would therefore respectfully request that the introduction of the bill be delayed so that ICE officers and others in the law enforcement community can be fully briefed on this 1,500 page bill and offer detailed input regarding some of our nation’s most urgent interior enforcement needs that this proposal seemingly does nothing to address.”

Even though the Gang of Eight has refused meeting requests with ICE officers to discuss real law enforcement reform in the immigration debate, Rubio–the GOP members’ de facto leader–says he wants an open and transparent discussion on this issue. He has still not forced multiple hearings on the legislation, as he previously promised, and has not set up a meeting with ICE officers.

During his Sunday show charm offensive, Rubio continued saying he supports an open and transparent debate.