Vote of “No Confidence” from the American Federation of Government Employees and National Homeland Security Council

UponreviewingnationalnewsregardingimmigrationintheUnitedStates,immigrationreform,andenforcementofthecurrentlaws,itwaslearnedtodaythattheAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployees(theUnionrepresentingover600,000governmentworkers–accordingtoitswebsite)togetherwiththeNationalHomelandSecurityCouncilissuedascathingpressreleaseindicatingaunanimous“VoteofNoConfidence”forintheDirectorofImmigration&CustomsEnforcement(ICE),JohnMorton,andtheAssistantDirectoroftheICEOfficeofDetentionPolicyandPlanning,PhyllisCoven.

Atfirstglance,thismayseemlikeadocumentthatanimmigrationpractitionerwouldbeinterestedin,hopingtogainsomeinsightintothemindsofICEofficersandtheirfrustrationswithasystemthatishopelesslybrokenandcausingharmtoindividualseveryday.Instead,thedocumentlistsnineinflammatoryandwhollyconclusorystatementsthatarenotbackedupwithanyfacts,statisticsorlinkstocompiledcompletedresearch.ThislackofevenattenuatedresearchshowstheleadershipofthesetwoorganizationshasnorealinterestinthefactthatthecurrentlawissoirretrievablybrokenthattheICEofficersitrepresentsarefaceddailywithepicdifficultyinenforcement.Thereis,additionally,anobviouscompletelackofconfidenceintheOfficeofProfessionalResponsibility,thegovernmentbodyresponsibleforinvestigatingcomplaintsofprofessionalmisconductofofficers.
Unfortunately,eachandeverystatementinthedocumentdoesnotcitetooneiotaofevidenceorresearch,butinsteadmakessweepingandsometimeswhollyfalsestatementsmeanttoinciteangerandfrustration,ratherthanafeelingofunionandleadership.Mostnotably,thestatementregarding“resortlikeliving”atICEdetentioncenters.In2008Immigration&CustomsEnforcement(ICE)reportedthat113individualsdiedwhileinthecareofICEbetween2003and2008.Oneindividualinparticular,Mr.BoubacarBah,whowasinplacedinICEcustodyandheldattheElizabethDetentionCenter,wasinjuredwhenhefellintherestroom.Mr.Bahwastakentomedicalwherehebecameincoherentandagitated(obvioussignsofbraintrauma)andwashandcuffed,shackledandthenwrittenupfordisobeyingordersthathewasunabletounderstand.Whilehelayonthefloorvomiting,foamingatthemouthandwrithinginpain.Insteadofbeinggiventhetreatmenthedeservedasahumanbeing,hewasleftinadarkroomforthirteenhoursbeforesomeoneinthecenterfinallycalled911.Mr.Bahwastakentoahospitalwhereheunderwentemergencysurgery,slippedintoacomaanddiedfromaskullfracture.Subsequently,inthereportsthattheUniondecries,itwaslearnedthatofficialswereplottinghowtoconcealtheirerrorswithMr.Bahwhilehelaydying,ratherthatprovidinghimwiththecaretheyhavebeenchargedwith.
AdditionalviolationsofhumanrightsatICEdetentioncentersinclude“physicalandsexualabuse,substandardmedicalcare,over-medication,inappropriatetransfers,andotherappallingindignitiescontrarytobasicnotionsofdueprocess”havebeenclearlydocumentedbyorganizationsincludingtheACLU,AmnestyInternational,HumanRightsWatch,HumanRightsFirst,theAppleseedFoundationandtheDepartmentofHomelandSecurityOfficeoftheInspectorGeneral.Anyincreaseinstandardsofcareatdetentionfacilitiescanhardlybecalled“resortlike”.

ThereisnoquestionthatoursystemisbrokenandUnitedStatesICEOfficersaredailyfacedwithanoverwhelmingtask;butinsteadofblamingtwoindividualschargedwithenforcingthelawsliketheofficerstheylead,theUnionshouldassistinfindingawayfortheirmemberstobeabletoworkwithleadershiptocontinuetoenforcetheruleoflawwhileourgovernmenthopefullyfindsawaytoreformasystemthatdoesnotworkforanyone,includinglawenforcement.


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