As part of President Barack Obama's "new immigration and deportation strategy," all U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers must complete a training program that stresses removing high-risk offenders while at the same time forgo the deportation of illegal immigrants with clean records and strong ties to their communities, said the ICE officers' union officials on Friday.
According to federal law enforcement officials, a majority of ICE’s commanding officers and prosecuting attorneys have completed the training seminar, but the National ICE Council, which represents agency’s more than 6,000 immigration officers, has not allowed its members to enroll in the new training program.
The tough and outspoken president of the National ICE Council, Chris Crane, has opposed many of the president’s strategies, arguing that Obama’s policies force ICE officials to disregard the law. In separate statements, officials from the border patrol agents union have also criticized Obama's immigration and border security policies.
On one occasion, while testifying before the House Judiciary subcommittee, Crane accused Obama of pandering to Latino groups for political gain.
“Law enforcement and public safety have taken a back seat to attempts to satisfy immigrant advocacy groups,” Crane told the panel of congressmen.
According to Department of Homeland Security officials, the seminar is mandatory for implementing the president’s strategy, but without the ICE union’s approval, the Obama policy will probably end up in labor negotiations or legal battles that could last well into Obama's second-term... if he wins a second term.
Originally when ICE commanders rolled out the training seminars for rank-and-file officers last November, the Obama appointees had hoped to have all ICE officers complete the required course by January 13, 2012, a deadline they obviously missed.
Republican lawmakers -- such as Representative Lamar Smith (R- Texas), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee -- called the president’s immigration plan "de facto amnesty" or "amnesty by fiat." GOP lawmakers appear to be in agreement with the ICE union officials on the subject of immigration enforcement and deportations.
In her defense of Obama's deportation policy, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has said that her agency only has enough resources to deport fewer than a half-million illegal aliens per year at a cost of $23,000 per illegal alien.
During the training class, ICE agents would be asked what to do if a young illegal immigrant had been handed to them by state authorities for driving without a license. In the scenario, she had been living in the United States since 1993 and has an infant son, an American, but she had lied to ICE officers, covering up a shoplifting conviction from 1995.
In this case, officers should close her deportation case as she poses no criminal threat and could still be nursing her American baby.
In another training scenario, ICE agents would be asked what to do with an Asian Pacific man who has been a legal resident in the United States since 1984 and has served two tours in Iraq. The man is currently serving out a six-year prison sentence for a federal sex-trafficking felony.
Under new ICE guidelines, the man should be deported, despite his military service, because of his serious criminal history.
John Morton, the Chief of ICE, was careful to note that illegal aliens who have their deportation closed are still in “legal limbo” as their cases are not canceled, can easily be reopened, and they have not been granted legal immigration status. Morton is unpopular with ICE agents, who gave him a vote of "no confidence" last year.
Meanwhile, ICE supervisors claim many agents do not support Crane and that many officials have reported that agents generally approve of the recent focus on high-profile anti-crime operations against foreign street gangs, drug dealers, and sex offenders.
But, rank-and-file agents -- who spoke on condition of total anonymity -- believe their superiors are being less than candid and more concerned with their careers than in protecting the nation's sovereignty and its people.
"As usual, the liberal-left officials within the [Obama] administration are hiding behind children in their attempt to circumvent the laws with which they disagree," said one of the agents.