ICE's Mission Melt: Agents Vote 'No Confidence' in Leadership

In an unprecedented move within the Department of Homeland Security, the detention and removal officers and agents responsible for and sworn to enforcing our nation's immigration laws issued an exhaustive, scathing letter simply titled "VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN ICE DIRECTOR JOHN MORTON AND ODPP ASSISTANT DIRECTOR PHYLLIS COVEN" on June 11, 2010. The letter, acquired through sources, provides a litany of examples of how ICE's mission is being skewed towards supporting an unflinching goal of amnesty by refusing to allow agents to do their job; allowing criminal aliens to roam free; depleting resources for key enforcement initiatives that preceded this administration; and misrepresenting facts and programs, demeaning the extent of the criminal alien problem and geared to support amnesty.

The letter, authored by ICE Union President Chris Crane, begins as follows, noting that all ICE union representatives have signed on to a unanimous "Vote of No Confidence" in ICE leadership:

On June 11, 2010, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council and its constituent local representatives from around the nation, acting on behalf of approximately 7,000 ICE officers and employees from the ICE Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), cast a unanimous “Vote of No Confidence” in the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton, and the Assistant Director of the ICE Office of Detention Policy and Planning, (ODPP), Phyllis Coven.

Providing numerous facts the media and public have not been privy to, the letter relates ICE leadership dishonesty and failure to abide by their oath to uphold the law. The letter also outlines the importance of local law enforcement referrals to ICE, and the striking symbiotic relationship between local enforcement and ICE on immigration matters. Exemplary are these two bullets:

• While ICE reports internally that more than 90 percent of ICE detainees are first encountered in jails after they are arrested by local police for criminal charges, ICE senior leadership misrepresents this information publicly in order to portray ICE detainees as being non-criminal in nature to support the Administration's position on amnesty and relaxed security at ICE detention facilities.

• The majority of ICE ERO Officers are prohibited from making street arrests or enforcing United States immigration laws outside of the institutional (jail) setting. This has effectively created "amnesty through policy" for anyone illegally in the United States who has not been arrested by another agency for a criminal violation.

In one uncharacteristic note of sarcasm, the outcome of the Obama Administration new detention policy is described as follows, including dance lessons and hanging plants for criminal aliens in detention facilities:

• ICE Detention Reforms have transformed into a detention system aimed at providing resort like living conditions to criminal aliens. Senior ICE leadership excluded ICE officers and field managers (the technical experts on ICE detention) from the development of these reforms, and instead solicited recommendations from special interest groups. The lack of technical expertise and field expertise has resulted in a priority of providing bingo nights, dance lessons and hanging plants to criminals, instead of addressing safe and responsible detention reforms for non-criminal individuals and families. Unlike any other agency in the nation, ICE officers will be prevented from searching detainees housed in ICE facilities allowing weapons, drugs and other contraband into detention centers putting detainees, ICE officers and contract guards at risk.

Interestingly, ICE Director John Morton told the Washington Post, in regard to this letter and other interest groups that call for his resignation (apparently this is quite common for him), that such letters are just, "part of the territory here." Mr. Morton, may I suggest that a significant problem with dismissing a No Confidence Vote from your entire employee population is, when you run an agency of 7,000 officers and agents, you can't do your job unless they do theirs? Oh wait, that is the whole point, is it not?

This is the first in a series relating the erosion of immigration law enforcement by the Obama administration.