Customs agents vote ‘no confidence’ in Obama appointees



Officials representing 7,000 AFL-CIO members unanimously voted “no confidence” in John Morton, the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Eric Gay/Ap file)
Agents of the U.S. Border Patrol have long complained that they are barred by edicts from the Department of Interior against entering federal wilderness areas along the Mexican border. As a result, millions of federally owned acres adjoining Mexico have in recent years become a veritable no man’s land infested with drug and human traffickers, and a host of other criminals.

Now career employees of another federal agency at the center of immigration enforcement are accusing Obama political appointees of preventing them from doing their jobs. Officials representing 7,000 members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO), National Council 118, in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unanimously voted “no confidence” in ICE Director John Morton and ICE Assistant Director Phyllis Coven, who heads the agency’s Office of Detention Policy and Planning.

Council 118 President Chris Crane said in a statement that Morton and Coven “have abandoned the agency’s core mission of enforcing United States Immigration Laws and providing for public safety, and have instead directed their attention to campaigning for programs and policies related to amnesty and the creation of a special detention system for foreign nationals that exceeds the care and services provided to most United States citizens similarly incarcerated.” As a result, according to Crane, ICE “engages in the large-scale release of criminals back into local communities &hellip and refuses, for political reasons, to request the additional manpower and resources needed to adequately operate the [Secure Communities] program.” Union officials claim ICE officers are prohibited from making arrests outside of jail settings, creating an “amnesty through policy,” while senior ICE officials continue to mislead the public about the effectiveness of their criminal enforcement programs.

Violent felons (the only kind of criminals ICE picks up) are sent to “resort-like” detention facilities that provide “bingo nights, dance lessons and hanging plants,” Crane said. Once there, many of the inmates “openly brag to ICE officers that they are taking advantage of the broken immigration system and will be back in the United States within days to commit crimes, while United States citizens arrested for the same offenses serve prison sentences.”

Perhaps predictably, the union claims ICE employees who complain are subject to retaliation. But these are career federal employees, not anti-immigrant activists seeking political gain or media attention. The public deserves to know the full truth about the accuracy of their claims. If Congress is serious about fulfilling its oversight responsibilities, this is as good a place as any to get started.



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