An open letter to Biden appointees at ICE: Don't be the fall guy

The anti-enforcement agenda you've been forced to carry out was developed by opponents of national borders

By Jon Feere on April 23, 2021

Washington Times, April 23, 2021

As an ICE official in the prior administration, I recognize that a change in management means a change in practices. But I am concerned you are being used by the Biden administration to advance policies that your leadership knows will endanger the lives of countless people. The sooner you demand a change of course, the better it will be for public safety and your own conscience.

The anti-enforcement agenda that you’ve been tasked with carrying out was developed by strident opponents of national borders operating as political appointees at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the White House.

People like Esther Olavarria and Angela Kelley have been part of the immigration debate for a long time and have calculated that undermining America’s sovereignty is more important than promoting public safety or national security. They’ve also calculated that Congress is more likely to call on you to testify about the predictable fallout from these policies since you will be the ones implementing the directives they’ve cooked up. If you’re not prepared to be on the hook for avoidable murders, assaults, rapes or terrorism, you had better start speaking up and pushing back on your leadership right now.

In your first month, you cancelled a nationwide operation focused on sex offenders; those people are still on the streets and will continue creating victims if you allow it. You’ve stopped removal flights of criminal aliens who will be back in our communities causing mayhem. You’re on track to prevent ICE from arresting tens of thousands of criminals.

Among the population of aliens arrested by ICE in the last two fiscal years, there were more than 130,000 DUI records, more than 119,000 dangerous drug records and more than 29,000 larceny records, for example. The policies you’ve been asked to carry out guarantee a dramatic drop in these types of arrests and an increase in harm to the public.

Every day officers are closing cases on dangerous aliens who are already in ICE’s systems. For example, there are many aliens who were arrested by local law enforcement for distributing methamphetamine in the past year who — after serving sentences — are now being processed for release by a local agency. Sheriffs who have previously received detainer requests from ICE are attempting to transfer these individuals to ICE custody.

Normally, ICE would take custody and deport the criminal alien. Today, ICE officers are telling sheriffs to release these criminals back into the community where many, if not most, will commit new crimes. This is happening routinely, leading one ICE officer to tell me, “the country is significantly less safe because of these policies.” You should talk with officers and highlight the public safety threats for your leadership.

The dramatic influx of human smuggling and trafficking that the White House has encouraged is obviously problematic from a law enforcement and humanitarian perspective. You’ve already overseen a number of smuggling car wrecks, two of which claimed 21 lives as people respond to your policies. Children are being abandoned in the desert — and not all will be rescued.

While border security is largely an issue for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, you have a role to play. Have you directed your agents to visit the home addresses of the sponsors of unaccompanied minors (UACs) and seek smuggling prosecutions? You’ll find a lot of the addresses are fake. You should be ramping up worksite enforcement; UACs will be exploited at worksites, as past investigations have shown, and it is ICE that has the authorities to stop it.

Your current enforcement guidelines suggest that ICE can remove aliens who are “suspected” of engaging in espionage. This sounds good on paper, but it will never be applied unless you are very forward-leaning. There are countless foreign nationals on student visas who should be “suspected of engaging in espionage-related activities,” as per the guidelines; you should get familiar with Operation OPTical Illusion. Every day, sensitive information is being transferred out of the country and the controversial Optional Practical Training (OPT) program under your watch is part of the reason.

In the past two fiscal years, ICE was able to arrest more than 246,000 aliens and remove 453,000 aliens. If your numbers aren’t going to be anywhere near this – and they won’t be if you don’t change course — what will the thousands of ICE employees responsible for this work be focusing on instead? You’re going to need to have something to show for your use of the agency’s resources, otherwise you’ll be responsible for government waste.

Congratulations on your new position. You have more responsibility on your shoulders than ever before, and the decisions you make are either going to advance the mission of the Department of Homeland Security or endanger lives. Thus far, it doesn’t look good for the public. But there’s still time to prevent more damage, and it depends on you having some serious conversations with your political leadership.