I.C.E. Director John Morton and Assistant Director Phyllis Coven get Union Vote of No-Confidence


I.C.E. Director John Morton and Assistant Director Phyllis Coven got a vote of No-Confidence from the 259 I.C.E union members. There are approximately 7000 I.C.E agents in the United States.

Who is John Morton exactly? According to the Washington Post:

Morton, 43, is a boyish-looking former career federal prosecutor who took over ICE last year in May. Described by colleagues as earnest and apolitical, he said he is seeking a middle ground on the debate, enforcing immigration laws while calling for comprehensive reform in Congress and viewing legal immigration as “a good thing for our country.”

“You develop a thick skin in a job like this,” said Morton, who admits to reading many of the brickbats that come his way but says they don’t consume him. “I’d imagine that for some other senior leaders in government, the day when someone calls for their resignation would be the day they’d remember throughout their career. That’s just part of the territory here.”

Sure enough, Morton and his agency evoke strong opinions from all sides. Crystal Williams, executive director of the pro-immigrant American Immigration Lawyers Association, faults him for overaggressive deportations and moving too slowly on promises to reform the immigrant detention system.




“If he’s throwing people out without a lot of focus, he’s hearing about it from the left, and that’s what’s going on here,” she said. “If he’s not doing enough enforcement, he’ll hear about it from the right.”

Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), a persistent critic, accused Morton of “letting known illegal immigrants take American jobs and turning a blind eye to those who overstay visas or illegally cross our border.”

Similar criticisms are voiced by the American Federation of Government Employees Council 118, which represents about 7,000 ICE workers and recently cast a vote of no confidence in Morton’s leadership. The union accuses Morton of abandoning ICE’s “core mission” of enforcing immigration laws and focusing on “policies related to amnesty.”

Morton’s defenders are equally fervent. “We often say we are a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. John brings a great deal of sensitivity to both aspects of our identity,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which, like ICE, is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Doris Meissner, who worked with Morton when she was commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, known as the INS, in the 1990s, chalked up his difficulties to the growing pains of a young agency and “resistance to change” within it. She credited Morton for taking on detention reform and for trying to focus ICE on “serious and complex criminal investigations.”

Though public perceptions of ICE are dominated by its enforcement of immigration laws, its agents also investigate terrorism, narcotics smuggling, child pornography and other criminal cases. ICE was the principal investigative agency for nearly half the intellectual property theft cases the Justice Department filed in 2009, federal figures show.

ICE was created by the 2002 merger of the immigration service and the U.S. Customs Service, which gives it the wide authority customs had to stop contraband from entering or leaving the country. Morton is trying to increase awareness of ICE’s criminal investigative work, saying it is “poorly understood and poorly celebrated.”

The No-Confidence Union Vote has been heralded over conservative blogs, Fox News, and the Examiner newspaper chain for the past 48 hours. The letter may be downloaded in pdf form. It is better to read the letter for yourself. Those doing the ‘retell’ are taking far too much delight in throwing in their own selective speech.

What the Examiner article doesn’t tell us is much about this 259 disgruntled I.C.E. employees. Where are they located, how many didn’t sign on, and where are the rest of the 6000 plus I.C.E. on this issue. Their letter expressing a vote of No-Confidence might very well have merit. How can we tell when we see only a snippet? Also what is not said is how much policy and direction has changed since President Obama became their new ultimate boss. How are things different from under the Bush Administration?

The Examiner article and spokes people have been very biased in their reporting. I pick up on key phrases that send out a strong signal that I am getting the news through the right wing filter. That prompted me to look for this story in multiple media outlets. It wasn’t there which is a strong signal that I am getting fed a line of Far Right BS.

The question now becomes, how does this information from 259 people affect the political horizon? On the one hand, doesn’t AZ SB 1070 rely heavily on I.C.E. agents picking up those who have been apprehended by AZ law enforcement? It sounds to me like there could just be a new game of catch and release. To those who want no enforcement or who espouse open borders, this vote of No-Confidence isn’t such good news either.

There is also mention of Border agents who are signing on to a vote of no-confidence. I am not sure who they have no confidence in . It sounded to me like they were dissing this same John Morton. However, they don’t work for him. I would say that was a rather meaningless vote if, indeed, they did that.

I would pull a Ronald Reagan and fire those who signed a vote of NO Confidence, just like he did the air traffic controllers who got into a pissing contest with him. The immigration issue is politicized enough without those entrusted to do a job getting in the act of politics. Meanwhile, I.C.E. needs to fix this problem. Perception is reality and now we all have the perception that this is a directionless agency who can’t find its….well..you know the rest.

There are too many holes in this story that have no explanation. Therefore, I draw no conclusions. Please download the letter and read it for yourself. It is perhaps the only worthwhile read on this subject.


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