The union representing immigration officials who protect the border against illegal crossings, drug smuggling and human trafficking blasted the White House and the nation’s top labor boss this week for denying their concerns about dangerous border conditions even existing.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka this week angered the rank and file members of the National ICE Council when the labor giant denied the contentious issue had divided many members.
“Unions did have at one point some differences on the [immigration] issue, but the entire labor movement is entirely behind this now. We???ll be at the table the whole time this thing is being developed to make sure it meets the needs of workers,” Trumka said in an interview with Yahoo! News.
Chris Crane, president of the ICE Council that represents 7,600 border and immigration employees, blasted Trumka and the White House for downplaying their concerns.
???We went directly to the Obama administration as well as the AFL-CIO with real matters of life and death for unionized American law enforcement officers and they shunned us,??? Crane said. ???We???re talking about 50,000 AFL-CIO affiliate members.”
Crane reiterated that this isn’t the first time border and immigration officials have been excluded from the process. Last February, and top Obama aide Cecilia Munoz ignored the workplace dangers they faced, Crane said.
As the Senate takes up the contentious issue and officials in Washington are scrambling to get a say in the resulting legislation, union rank and file are determined not to get left behind again.
The ICE agents have felt threatened for their lives ever since ICE Director John Morton issued a memo on June 17, 2011 that directed ICE agents to refrain from enforcing immigration laws against certain illegal immigrants. On top of that, the Department of Homeland Security issued a “deferred action” memo on June 15, 2012 that granted reprieves to thousands of minors who came to this country that would qualify under the proposed DREAM Act.
Crane said in a statement that “most of the nation???s immigration enforcement experts at his fingertips, to include immigration officers, agents and attorneys, Trumka has refused our union input on comprehensive immigration reform…He doesn’t speak on behalf of our workers.”
Meanwhile, on the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) blasted ICE Director Morton and said that he can’t continue in his present capacity.
“We cannot make progress on immigration reform as long as the man in charge of enforcing our nation’s immigration laws continues to undermine those very laws and the efforts of his own agents,” he said.
In October 2012, 10 ICE agents filed a complaint against Napolitano and Morton for their memos.
A federal judge last week upheld the agents’ complaint.