Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged low morale among Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees and tension with ICE union leadership, after being pressed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) during a Tuesday hearing.
The exchange centered around a lawsuit filed by a group of ICE agents last year, which takes issue with the executive actions taken by the Obama administration on immigration rules:
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SESSIONS: [Chris Crane, head of the National ICE Council] testified that agents are prohibited from enforcing the law and that, indeed, ICE Officers have filed a lawsuit… I have never heard of a situation in which a group of law officers sued their supervisor, and you, for blocking them from following the law… [ICE Agents] were saying that the very oath they took to enforce the law is being blocked by rules and regulations and policies established from on high, and that this is undermining their ability to do what they are sworn to do.
NAPOLITANO: May I respond?
NAPOLITANO: There are tensions with union leadership, unfortunately, but here's what I expect as a former prosecutor and attorney general: and that is that law enforcement agents will enforce the law in accordance with the guidance they're given from their superiors. That's what we ask of ICE, that's what we ask of border patrol, that's what we ask throughout the department, and I believe that would be consistent with all law enforcement. Agents don't set the enforcement priorities, they are set by their superiors, and they are asked then to obey that guidance in accord with the law.
SESSIONS: What Mr. Crane testified to was that there are law provisions that say the agent "shall do" this, that, and the other, and that the policies set by their political supervisors refuse to allow them to do what the law plainly requires.