Immigration Officers: Enforce Current Laws Before Passing Reform

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Border Patrol agents inspect a bus; undocumented immigrants are taken to a detention center. (Photo Josh Denmark/ Flickr)
Border Patrol agents inspect a bus; undocumented immigrants are taken to a detention center. (Photo Josh Denmark/ Flickr)

By Elliot Jager

The heads of two unions — representing investigators, hearing officers and other personnel responsible for enforcing immigration laws — say that their members have been hamstrung by the political echelon of the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report in  National Review. 


Chris Crane, who represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement workers, and Kenneth Palinkas, representing Citizenship and Immigration Services employees, say Congress should hold off on immigration reform at least until existing laws are properly enforced.

Crane wrote House lawmakers Monday to say that his members have faced demands “by DHS political appointees to ignore the law.” As a consequence “violent criminal aliens are released every day from jails back into American communities.”

He said his officers have faced disciplinary action if they do not apply Obama administration directives, relating to individuals who arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors, in the broadest possible manner.

 An administration initiative, known as DREAMers, directs that anyone who arrived as a child, has been in the country for five years, and is willing to attend college or serve in the military, can earn citizenship.

The union contends that enforcement agents have been pressured to ignore applicants’ violent history including gang involvement. With his members “beat down and scared” under political pressure, Crane said he is dubious that pending immigration reform will rectify the issue.

Palinkas says that administration officials have turned the immigration-application process into an “approval machine,” placing obstacles before immigration adjudication officers when they apply the law. He says approval quotas make it difficult for his member to properly screen applications.

Palinkas also opposes immigration reform until “widespread abuses” at the immigration services are addressed.

Conservatives worry that GOP House members, in a rush to get the politically-charged immigration-reform issue off the agenda, will permit a Senate-House Conference Committee to move ahead on legislation that would, essentially, grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens already in the country, while giving the administration a pass on enforcing existing immigration law, according to National Review.