The National ICE Council represents over 7,000 officers, agents and employees that work for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency throughout the nation and its territories. Their tagline is “They protect those who protect America.”
In response to the heightened attention toward the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, the National ICE Council sent a letter to Congress expressing their concerns with the Gang of Eight’s bill. In May, the Council advised lawmakers that the bill endangers public safety. In its letter, the Council highlighted the following problems with the legislation:
- Just the speculation that S.744 may pass has caused illegal border crossings to spike dramatically. Thousands of children, runaways and families illegally cross the border in hopes of gaining citizenship.
- S. 744 provides no commitment of stronger border enforcement for at least five to ten years after the initial legalization phase. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is allowed to set its own success and failure measures in relation to border security and to determine the amount of border fencing to be constructed. Currently, there are only 700 miles of border fencing along a 2,000 mile border. Congress relinquishes its authority to hold DHS accountable. The lack of a border security strategy and tangible provisions for increased border security will only draw more illegal aliens into the U.S.
- The current failures of interior enforcement are not addressed. ICE cannot remove or arrest most criminal illegal aliens because the policy offends special interests. Law enforcement agencies that signed a memorandum of agreement with ICE and who received the proper training were able to act as immigration enforcement officers. This was the gist of the 287(g) which was enacted during the Clinton administration. However, it was effectively defunded by the Obama administration in 2012. Additionally, there is no guaranteed increase in the number of ICE immigration agents; currently there are only 5,000 nationwide. This amount is smaller than many local and state law enforcement agencies such as police and sheriff departments.
- Political appointees to DHS have nearly unlimited discretion while tying the hands of ICE and Customs and Border Protection. S.744 allows the DHS Secretary to waive crimes that would otherwise make illegal aliens ineligible for citizenship. The crimes range from gang membership to visa overstaying.
When lawmakers allow ethnic interest groups, special interests and the business lobby's input into such important legislation but excludes the ones who will execute the laws, such as law enforcement personnel, the result is a bill that worsens the illegal immigration problem.