The ICE union’s reaction to ICE Director John Morton’s prosecutorial discretion memorandum shows that the union leadership, apparently out of touch with its own members, is hell bent on maintaining the status quo–indiscriminate arrest, detention, prosecution, and deportation of immigrants–without thinking about what’s best for America. Chris Crane, President of the National ICE Council, which represents 7,000 agents, officers, and employees, was quick to warn that “any American concerned about immigration needs to brace themselves for what’s coming, this is just one of many new ICE policies in queue aimed at stopping the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws in the United States. Unable to pass its immigration agenda through legislation, the Administration is now implementing it through agency policy.”
Really? Where was Mr. Crane last year when the Administration deported over 400,000 people, more than any administration before it? That figure, according to the Washington Post, is nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration’s 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007.
Crane’s silence then is deafening now.
Nor do his comments reflect what the ICE union’s rank and file think is good for America. Rather, they demonstrate the self interested fears of an entrenched bureaucratic leadership attempting, at all costs, to resist positive change; a desperate hold on a tired policy that has outlived its effectiveness. The ICE union leadership is not unique in this regard.
Moreover, the ICE union leaders are not dealing in reality. This is a situation–depicted in classic films like “On the Waterfront” –where union bosses attempt to incite insubordination among the ranks. Crane’s comments beg the question: Where does he, or the union leadership for that matter, come off attempting to set Administration policy? Since when do the soldiers tell the generals what to do? It is nothing less than shameful, indeed scandalous, when a clique of ICE union bosses attempts to thwart the work that their boss has instructed them to do.
Unfortunately, for the ICE union’s many well meaning, hard working agents, its leadership’s knee jerk, mutinous reaction to the Morton memo is narrow minded, short sighted, and misses the point. By squarely placing prosecutorial discretion in the hands of agents and trial attorneys, Director Morton has empowered ICE employees, from the rank and file to the Director’s office. Discretion means the ability to decide in a particular case what is the best use of limited enforcement resources; how to enforce the immigration law so that our communities and country are best protected from those who would do us harm. Clearly, the danger to a community is less likely to come from a breast feeding mother or gifted student than from dangerous felon or terrorist.
The ICE Union leadership’s response to the Morton memo is chalk-full of unsubstantiated allegations and vitriolic language but short on considered analysis. Not surprisingly, it offers no solutions. Director Morton’s memo is hardly the answer to a dysfunctional immigration law badly in need of repair. That’s Congress’ job. But, taken at its word, Director Morton’s policy guidance appears to be a good faith effort to implement common sense, smart enforcement. The ICE union leadership would better serve its members, and the nation, by endorsing Director Morton’s call for rigorous, smart enforcement of the immigration law.