EDITORIAL: Immigration enforcement on ICE


America's front-line defenders against illegal immigration want to do their jobs, but they say the Obama administration
is practicing unilateral disarmament.

The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council and its affiliated local councils, which represents rank-and-file ICE officers, unanimously approved a no-confidence motion on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton and Assistant Director Phyllis Coven. A letter announcing the 259-0 vote said that ICE leaders are pursuing "misguided and reckless initiatives" and that ICE managers "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 policies and programs related to amnesty."

This is unprecedented criticism of the agency tasked with protecting America's borders and guaranteeing that only legal immigrants enjoy the benefits of living in the United States. The message from front-line professionals is that President Obama's hand-picked political appointees are ignoring their statutory obligations to enforce the law in favor of the administration's policy of calculated neglect.

This vote comes on the heels of an 11-page memo from the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services detailing the "Administrative alternatives to comprehensive immigration reform" that would result in reducing the "threat of removal" for thousands of "individuals present in the United States without authorization." The memo revealed the extraordinary and unprecedented lengths to which the Obama administration is going in order to protect millions of people who are in violation of federal law.

Another reason for concern is the recent appointment of Harold Hurtt as the head of ICE's office of state and local coordination. The mission of his charge is to increase cooperation between federal immigration efforts and state and local law enforcement. Mr. Hurtt, however, is a poor choice for fostering any type of constructive collaboration. While serving as police chief in Phoenix and Houston, Mr. Hurtt implemented policies and procedures that created de-facto sanctuary cities.

Mr. Hurtt's Operations Order 1.4.3 was a laundry list of ways in which Phoenix police would not cooperate with ICE regarding illegals. Unlawful entrants would not be reported to federal officials if they were witnesses to crimes, victims of crimes, seeking medical treatment or involved in a domestic disturbance. Detention or arrest for minor traffic violations also did not merit ICE notification, though a felony drunken-driving violator might be reported "if feasible." It is hard to comprehend why it would be infeasible; perhaps if all radio, telephone and e-mail services went down at that moment. ICE was also specifically not to be notified if illegals were released from Phoenix police custody or released pending further investigation.

As head of the Houston police, Mr. Hurtt said, "Immigration enforcement by local police is counterproductive to community policing efforts." If the past is prologue, Mr. Hurtt's version of federal-local immigration cooperation will be to tell police holding illegals to keep it to themselves. Better yet, just don't pick them up in the first place.

The Obama administration stubbornly refuses to protect America's borders. The president is appointing immigration officials who would rather coddle illegals than deport them, finding legal loopholes to protect those "present without authorization" and suing states like Arizona trying to find a solution to the alien onslaught. Front-line ICE agents are telling America they are ready, willing and able to do their job, but the Obama administration is simply uninterested.

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