ICE Council President: Gang of 8 Bill and Amendments Don't Repair Dismantled Enforcement Authorities

Posted: Jun 12, 2013 12:30 PM

Texas Senator John Cornyn has just introduced an amendment to the Gang of 8 bill that is supposed to add more border security to the legislation. But according to ICE Council President Chris Crane, the amendment does nothing to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents to enforce the law.

Crane sent a letter to Senators Cornyn and Rubio Wednesday to express concerns. From the letter:

It has come to my attention that you are both working on possible amendments to the Senate immigration bill in an attempt to address growing concerns about the bill’s problematic security and enforcement provisions. I am concerned that the public commentary to date regarding your amendments has not included any mention of repairing ICE’s dismantled enforcement authorities and practices.

No reforms to S. 744 will be successful unless interior enforcement concerns are addressed and resolved. Any plan is doomed to fail that does not empower ICE agents to enforce the laws enacted by Congress—and that does not put an end to the unlawful abuse of prosecutorial discretion by political appointees.

While there has been much discussion over how S. 744 fails to establish enforcement first and fails to secure the border, less discussed is how it undermines interior enforcement and thus guarantees continuing illegal immigration and visa overstays. Even the complete implementation of a biometric entry/exit system would still result in millions of future visa overstays as ICE lacks not only the resources to enforce immigration laws, but its officers are increasingly prohibited by the Administration from arresting and removing immigration violators—including convicted criminals and aliens incarcerated in jails.

Yet, instead of cracking down on the Administration’s abuse of power, S. 744 places unprecedented new restrictions on interior enforcement—making the current situation much worse and much more hazardous. It is as if S. 744 were explicitly written to handcuff law enforcement officials—binding their hands while giving virtually unchecked authority to executive branch officials to prevent future removals, including removals of criminal aliens.

Clearly, we will not solve our nation’s immigration problems, or fix this bill without empowering ICE agents and restoring and improving ICE’s deteriorated enforcement capacity. Approximately 40 percent of all illegal immigrants currently in the United States never crossed the border illegally, but instead entered legally and overstayed their visas. Many dangerous aliens also enter illegally but are never removed because of dismantled ICE enforcement powers. In short, the border is only half the problem.

S. 744 not only fails to contain needed interior enforcement provisions, but weakens interior enforcement. This is because powerful special interests involved in crafting the bill’s language are opposed to interior enforcement—a fact ICE officers are all too familiar with. The political agendas of these groups place the public safety and security of our nation at risk. As respected political leaders, I am asking you both to work with me and others in Congress and law enforcement in ensuring that this bill puts the safety of America before powerful special interests. Law enforcement officers are asking for your help.

Crane has expressed frustration in the past with the Gang of 8 and the White House shutting ICE agents out of illegal immigration reform talks. Crane has testified multiple times about the importance of reform including the ability for ICE agents to properly enforce the law, authority they do not have at this point and authority that is not included in the Gang of 8 legislation. 

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