WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today’s announcement by Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of an agency reorganization that shifts the department’s focus on risk assessment and prioritization was welcomed by officials of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents DHS workers in the Border Patrol, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard.
“However, we do reserve judgment on the restructuring as a whole until details of Secretary Chertoff’s plan for immigration and border control issues are revealed,” said AFGE National President John Gage.
Department of Homeland Security officials told The Washington Post that “a new game plan” for immigration and border protection will be unveiled later in the year.
“It is our fervent hope that, in plotting his ‘new game plan,’ the secretary will examine the overall morale of the officers of the Bureaus of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” said Charles Showalter, president of the AFGE National Homeland Security Council. “The government’s own survey showed DHS employees to have far less confidence in their leaders than workers in other federal agencies, and a highly regarded think tank recently reported on a ‘climate of fear’ among Customs and Border Protection officers.
“While reviewing its overall operational environment, the agency desperately needs to reassess the new personnel system it has unleashed on homeland security workers, and to repair the damage done by the heavy-handed manner in which the system is being implemented,” Showalter continued. “This new system will pit worker against worker for what were once moderate yearly pay increases and virtually eliminates any meaningful whistleblower protections. And that’s a bad deal for the American people.”