During a phone call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council President Chris Crane expressed concerns over a lack of attention in the immigration reform debate to an expansive criminal alien and violent cartel problem inside the United States.
"We aren't even scratching the surface on the criminal illegal alien problem in the United States," Crane said. "That part [cartels] is absent from this discussion as are many parts of this....we know that the drug cartels, that the lieutenants and the troops, the soldiers, they're all within the interior of United States and they're all conducting business as are many other criminal elements and criminal individuals. There are people coming here for this to be a land of opportunity and there are people coming here because the United States for them is a target of opportunity and we believe there is a very disproportionate number of criminals coming into the United States. That conversation is almost completely absent from this entire public conversation about what's happening....It's just another part of this debate that gives us this concern that this is all about politics and not about really fixing the problems that we face within our broken immigration system and providing for what is best for everyone is best for America to include and most importantly, public safety."
Townhall reported earlier this week about the armed criminal alien element operating in Texas and Arizona. The Associated Press published an extensive report this week detailing the vast and dangerous foothold Mexican cartels have gained in states throughout the country.
"Most illegal aliens already have full protection from the law, a form of amnesty, if you will, is already in place for millions of illegal aliens with extensive criminal histories and criminal conviction histories in addition to being in the United States illegally in violation of federal law," Crane said.
Another big issue being ignored in the immigration debate is illegal alien fraud, specifically aliens stealing the identities of American citizens and illegally using Social Security numbers.
"ICE agents are also prohibited from enforcing immigration fraud. The majority of people we encounter are in possession of fraudulent documents, documents such as a fake social security cards with real U.S. citizen social security numbers on them. They have fake permanent resident cards, they are involved in identity theft," Crane said. "We literally stack these fraud docs up like baseball cards."
Many have argued legalization or amnesty of all illegal aliens will lessen the burden on ICE agents, but Crane disagrees and asked Congress to give ICE the ability to enforce laws internally in an immigration reform package. Making a promise to America, Crane stressed that without enforcement, the country will be in the same crisis ten years from now.
“Without the enforcement part of this, we’ll have no reforms at all,” Crane said, adding that the American people should put no confidence in a deal that doesn't address law enforcement first. “We need to anticipate a run on the border.”
Currently, ICE agents are almost exclusively capable of making criminal alien arrests only inside jails and prisons if the alien has been arrested for, or convicted of, a felony. This means another law enforcement agency must make the initial arrest before anything substantial can be done. Not to mention, supervisors in Washington D.C. have made it impossible for ICE agents to enforce current law even after an alien with a criminal history is arrested.
“We are prohibited from enforcing the law,” Crane said. "Political appointees have the ability to override laws enacted by Congress.
According the Crane, the Gang of Eight has done nothing to ensure the laws already on the books are being enforced as they prepare to offer an immigration reform package full of new laws.
The debate over immigration reform is ongoing in Washington. Republicans have requested the process be slowed down in order to ensure enforcement becomes a priority while Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, who serves as the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, has offered to hold just one hearing on new legislation.