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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ICE Union Takes Unanimous Vote of No Confidence in Leadership

Documents surfaced last week showing that AFGE Council 118 ICE, the union that represents over 7,000 detention and removal agents within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), issued a vote of no-confidence in ICE Director John Morton and Assistant Director of the ICE Office of Detention and Policy and Planning, Phyllis Coven.  According to a statement issued by the Union, the action reflects “the growing dissatisfaction among ICE employees and Union Leaders that Director Morton and Assistant Director Phyllis Coven have abandoned the Agency’s core mission of enforcing United States immigration laws and enforcing public safety, and have instead directed their attention to campaigning for programs and policies relating to amnesty…”  (AFGE National Council 118 Letter, June 25, 2010). 
In the scathing release, the ICE union also accuses Director Morton and Assistant Director Coven of:
  • Dedicating “more time to immigration reforms aimed at large-scale amnesty legislation, than advising the public and Federal lawmakers of the severity of the illegal immigration problem;
  •  Misleading the public regarding the effectiveness of the Secure Communities program and using it as a selling point to move forward with amnesty legislation;
  • Refusing to alert Congress as to the severity of the problem regarding criminal aliens and to request additional resources to provide better enforcement and support of local agencies;
  • Prohibiting the majority of ERO agents from making arrests or enforcing United States immigration laws outside of the institutional (i.e. jail) setting; and
  •  Implementing detention reforms that have created a “resort like living conditions to criminal aliens.”
When asked about criticism of him and his agency, Morton was dismissive. "You develop a thick skin in a job like this," said Morton.  "I'd imagine that for some other senior leaders in government, the day when someone calls for their resignation would be the day they'd remember throughout their career. That's just part of the territory here.'' (Washington Post, July 19, 2010).  However, Janice Kephart, Director of National Security Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, noted that a unanimous rebuke from one’s entire workforce of agents is under no circumstances a typical critique of a government official. Morton, she states, cannot do his job unless the agents can do theirs. But then again, she notes, maybe this is the point. (CIS blog, August 4, 2010)

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