In a Political Power Play, ICE Agents Are Frozen Out by Big Labor Bosses
Power politics and union clout combined last week to quash the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council. The move leaves 7,600 agency employees, mostly deportation officers, without collective bargaining protection, and exposes whistleblowers to retaliation or even termination.
Chris Crane, president of the ICE Council, accuses the government of colluding with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) to silence his organization and its members. As the umbrella union over the ICE Council, AFGE has taken stances hostile to ICE members, including backing politicians who have called for abolishing the agency, he said.
“There is no doubt that ICE and DHS leadership worked in unison with corrupt union bosses to make this happen,” Crane told the Washington Times. “DHS and AFGE leadership both wanted desperately to silence ICE Council whistleblowers. Without a union, it’s doubtful those whistleblowers will have jobs much longer.”
More broadly, the ICE Council alleges that leaders of the parent union, AFL-CIO, which supported Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, are working to maintain “partisan political favor” from the administration.
The decision by the putatively independent Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to erase the ICE Council comes on the heels of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s purge of immigration court judges. Ironically (or not) AFGE last year hailed President Biden’s appointments to the FLRA as signaling the end of “Trump era union busting.”
Crane said AFGE and AFL-CIO did not advocate for ICE employees. “They don’t care about workers. They only care about their far-left agendas and politics. The corruption and misspending in the organization is out of control. ICE employees want no part in it.”
On immigration policy, ICE officers have battled Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ attempts to refashion the agency and handcuff its agents. Just before the end of the Trump administration, the ICE Council signed an agreement with DHS giving the union chapter a say in policy changes that the Biden team wanted to make. The new administration “disapproved” of that agreement. And that was that.
U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, has asked the Labor Department to investigate ICE Council allegations that AFGE dues were used to pay strippers and prostitutes while union operatives engaged in sexual misconduct and racial discrimination toward employees.
Without addressing the multiple accusations, AFGE President Everett Kelley said only that the ICE Council wasn’t a good partner in the labor movement. Harrumph!