As the influx of unaccompanied children continue to flood the southern border – nearly 63,000 have been apprehended since October – the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is stretched extremely thin, overwhelmed by the complex task of processing and housing the children. Despite the endless waves of immigrants and its work to support the Border Patrol, ICE’s immigration division has become smaller since 9/11.
Every day, ICE agents transfer hundreds of unaccompanied children and adults out of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to all points all across the nation. They have been working day and night since the early stages of the situation. Other ICE immigration offices throughout the country have been called in to help and they are now overwhelmed as well. ICE fugitive operations teams in some areas, for example, have been completely shut down as officers were reassigned to process and transport the children. ICE Council President Chris Crane said that serious action from elected leaders is needed to effectively handle the situation.
"I understand that conditions in some areas are not at the standards we would all like to see, especially as it pertains to the children, but our officers are doing the best they can with the resources they've been provided," Crane said. "Many of our officers frequently go above and beyond, taking money out of their own pockets to buy diapers, baby formula and food for these children. The agents and officers of the Border Patrol and ICE are too often criticized, even demonized, but rarely recognized as the dedicated public servants they truly are. Their actions during this humanitarian crisis are commendable."
AFGE is calling on the administration to fully fund the agency and recognize what these officers have gone through to fulfill their agency’s mission. It’s unacceptable that an agency this important would be starved of resources it needs to do its job. ICE was about to run out of money starting the middle of this month. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has reprogrammed $405 million away from other DHS agencies to create extra cash after Congress couldn’t agree on a funding bill and left town for their August recess.