There’s probably no agency in the Trump administration that’s more controversial right now than ICE. The 20,000-strong Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the entity responsible for carrying out many of the White House’s hardline immigration policies, including deporting people who have been in the country for years.
The ICE union, which represents 7,600 officers, was among the few federal government agency unions to endorse Trump before the 2016 presidential election. (The Border Patrol union was another.) ICE union head Chris Crane, a vocal critic of presidential immigration policies for years, said then that “America has been lied to about every aspect of immigration in the United States,” and only Trump can “put politics aside to fix the problem.”
But in recent months some ICE officials have grown disenchanted with Trump’s approach. Upset that the immigration plan was too permissive, and that there were too many former Obama officials running the agency, they started a rogue website late last year to “communicate directly with the American people,” which features plenty of Breitbart articles, along with long interviews Trump advisor Stephen Miller, and articles from the right-wing Washingtonian. In a February letter to the White House, the union said it could no longer support the president on immigration because he was repeating the mistakes of the past.
“They’re still playing by the same failed playbook,” Crane told Quartz recently. “They can’t change and they can’t innovate.” While Trump promised the union he would formulate an immigration plan with people who had experience in detention and removal, he hasn’t, Crane said. “They said they would work with boots on the ground people in the field and they didn’t do it,” he said.
“We had absolutely no input” on the administration’s ongoing strategy, he said, or on who the new head of ICE should be. Ron Vitiello, a career border patrol agent, was named director on June 30. “No one even asked us about him,” Crane said, calling it “another broken promise” by the Trump administration.
By Heather Timmons for QUARTZ
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