Law enforcement officials from around the country coalesced on Thursday against the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, arguing that it did not solve of the nation’s immigration law problems and railing on the senators involved for not including law enforcement experts in their creation of the bill.
“Almost one month ago, we asked for a meeting with the Gang of Eight to discuss law enforcement concerns,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents’ union president Chris Crane said at a Thursday press conference. “They told us they weren’t taking meetings but they were meeting all along with special interests and pro-amnesty groups. Finally, after public pressure grew, I got a late Monday night meeting with Sen. Rubio the day before this almost-1,000-page bill was introduced. I raised my many public safety concerns and pleaded with him not to drop the bill until these public safety concerns with law enforcement were addressed. They dropped it anyway.”
Crane went on to say that he thinks the bill will “put the public safety at risk without doubt. It fails on interior enforcement, it’s amnesty first, enforcement perhaps never.
“Unfortunately, I do not believe that the Gang of Eight is a group that we can trust with a matter so important to the safety of American communities and security of our nation,” Crane said.
Dona Ana County New Mexico sheriff Todd Garrison said he and other sheriffs had offered the Gang of Eight and other lawmakers their support and expertise on immigration reform, but the group of senators shunned them. “We have offered our services on a number of occasions to come down here and discuss this issue, being that we live on the border and deal with these issues every day,” Garrison said. “With the current bill, it’s hard to keep trusting our federal government on these issues and it’s really frustrating. We are public servants, we have been elected to public office to serve the public, and our concerns for public safety, for our counties, for our country, and that’s what we want to do.”
Sheriff Sam Page of Rockingham County, North Carolina, and a member of the leadership of the National Sheriffs Association, was equally disappointed in the process. “When we enact legislation in North Carolina that deals with public safety, we have input,” Page said. “We should have input, as law enforcement, as persons who are going to be enforcing the laws. And here in Congress, out of our lawmakers, I would expect nothing different.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), an ardent opponent of the Gang of Eight’s amnesty efforts, said the bipartisan bill focused more on special interest groups’ concerns than on actual law enforcement. “Like in 2007, the special interests were brought in,” Sessions said at the press conference. “They engaged behind closed doors to help write a bill while the law enforcement officers, the ones given the duty to make sure the law is complied with, have been shut out, as has been the public, from this.”