Handcuffed Cops Have Low Morale

By Mark Krikorian on December 10, 2014

Guess which agency's employees have the lowest job satisfaction in the government. Here's a hint: It's the one whose employees are prohibited from doing their jobs.

"The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" rankings for 2014 are out, "derived from three different questions in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey." Among large agencies, the Department of Homeland Security is dead last, with only 44 percent of employees expressing satisfaction with their jobs, more than 10 points less than the runner-up, the Department of Veterans Affairs. Among "agency subcomponents," Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is tied for 314th — and last — place with another unit of DHS at 35.8 percent, and ICE employees' job satisfaction declined significantly from the year before.

When I met with DHS secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this year, he came back several times to the theme that ICE agents were dissatisfied because of pay discrepancies. And such discrepancies exist, as my colleague Dan Cadman has written recently. (Basically, agents who do Customs enforcement are paid more than those doing immigration enforcement, a legacy of the Customs Service's de facto annexation of INS's enforcement components when DHS was created a decade ago.)

But it's laughable to suggest that this is the source of the profound alienation of ICE officers under this administration. The leaders of the union for ICE agents didn't cast a unanimous vote of no confidence in the ICE leadership's unwillingness to enforce the law because of pay discrepancies; their press release didn't even mention pay. ICE agents haven't sued DHS over pay — they've sued because they're being ordered by Obama's minions to violate their oaths to uphold the law. Chris Crane, head of the ICE agents' union, hasn't focused his efforts chiefly on pay issues; instead, he's been trying to stop the Gang of Eight's atrocious amnesty/immigration-surge bill. An ICE attorney didn't file suit against her own agency last month because she thought her paycheck should be bigger; rather, it's because of the crude bullying and pressure applied to her and other ICE career attorneys to comply with Obama's demands that immigration enforcement be gutted.

The damage done by the Obama administration to our institutional capacity to enforce border and immigration laws is profound. And that's the point, isn't it?