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No confidence votes plague ICE and Border Patrol

The recent 259-0 disapproval of ICE’s point man John Morton by his fellow coworkers lends itself to an unwanted pattern in federal law enforcement agencies. Just last year the U.S. Border Patrol’s union, National Border Patrol Council put forth a similar vote and declared “no confidence” in their leader, David V. Aguilar.

The unanimous “no confidence vote” from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rank-and-file union came about because the perception that management is abandoning its mission of protecting the public in order to support a political agenda including amnesty unnerves ICE agents.

The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, includes at least 7,000 ICE agents and employees, voted a resounding 259-0 for a resolution telling management of their “growing dissatisfaction and concern” of Assistant Secretary John Morton, who now heads ICE. The vote of no confidence also reached to Phyllis Coven, assistant director for the ICE agency’s office of detention policy and planning as well.

The resolution implied that ICE management had “abandoned the agency’s core mission of enforcing U.S. immigration laws and providing for public safety,” the voting body thought they (ICE leadership) were more likely “to campaign for programs and policies related to amnesty and the creation of a special detention system for foreign nationals that exceeds the care and services provided to most U.S. citizens similarly incarcerated.”

Due to the increasing friction between rank-and-file and management, the union decided, “to publicly separate themselves from the actions of Director Morton and Assistant Director Coven and publicly state that ICE officers and employees do not support Morton or Coven or their misguided and reckless initiatives, which could ultimately put many in America at risk.”

The ICE union statement strongly implied that the integrity of ICE “as well as the public safety” would be “better provided for in the absence of Director Morton and Assistant Director Coven.”

Other key points included in the statement were; “The majority of ICE’s enforcement and removal officers are prohibited from making street arrests or enforcing U.S. immigration laws outside of the jail setting. Hundreds of ICE officers nationwide perform no law enforcement duties whatsoever because of resource mismanagement within the agency.”

The statement also said; “ICE detention reforms have transformed into a detention system aimed at providing resort like living conditions to criminal aliens based on recommendations not from ICE officers and field managers, but from ‘special-interest groups.’ The lack of technical expertise and field experience has resulted in a priority of providing bingo nights, dance lessons and hanging plants to criminals, instead of addressing safe and responsible detention reforms for noncriminal individuals and families.”

Other plans from leadership include preventing ICE agents searching detainees housed in ICE facilities, therefore, allowing weapons, drugs and other contraband into detention centers — putting detainees, ICE officers and contract guards at risk.

Another aspect that rank-and-file that has complained about is the fact that senior leadership ignores reports about ICE internal investigations by the office of professional responsibility conceal agency and supervisor misconduct that use incidents to retaliate against employees who are whistleblowers or question improper activities.

“ICE senior leadership is aware that the system is broken, yet refuses to alert Congress to the severity of the situation and request additional resources to provide better enforcement and support of local agencies,” the statement concluded.

Lamar Smith of Texas, ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told The Washington Times that the Obama administration is “simply not serious about enforcing all of our immigration laws.”

New ICE guidelines say they “only have resources to remove approximately 400,000 aliens per year, less than 4 percent of the estimated illegal-alien population in the United States.” This hard budget number forces ICE to prioritize what is most important to enforce on the limited money Congress has earmarked for ICE.

Rep. Smith shot back and ICE didn’t have the resources because they haven’t asked for more, “the Obama administration did not request a single new detention bed in their most recent budget request.”

Heading out on a public relations trip to the Arizona border, Morton hoped to iron out the wrinkles the Obama administration placed when it decided to sue the Grand Canyon State rather than assist them with a growing illegal immigration problem that is breaking the state financially.

The two most out-spoken sheriffs along the Arizona/Mexico border said the planned visit by ICE’s Morton a “political stunt” and described the Obama administration attempts to “cover up its inaction in protecting our borders as pathetic.”

“The administration blew past their promised Aug. 1 deadline to send 524 National Guard troops to Arizona, and now they are trying to appear concerned by sending the ICE director, who recently received a vote of ‘no confidence’ by ICE’s union,” Paul Babeu Sheriff of Pinal County and Larry Dever Sheriff of Cochise County said in a statement.

“While he may be on vacation or fundraising, we in Cochise and Pinal counties cannot take a vacation from the hundreds of thousands of illegals that continue to break our laws each day and threaten the safety and security of our residents,” Sheriff Babeu frankly explained.

U.S. Border Patrol’s vote of “no confidence”

David V. Aguilar, Border Patrol’s chief, hails from rank-and-file and has moved up the ranks where he served under Congressmen Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) and has followed the coattails of ‘friends in high places’ all the way to the CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner slot.

However, Aguilar’s record is rife with controversy, power consolidation, and failures.

First, in February 2007, delegates to the National Border Patrol Council’s biennial convention unanimously endorsed a vote of “no confidence” in Chief Aguilar.

“The vote was the result of increasing frustration by front line Border Patrol Agents in the decisions of their senior leadership,” T.J. Bonner, NBPC National President, said in a statement. “This lack of leadership has caused morale to plummet, which in turn has accelerated the attrition rate among experienced agents. Unless drastic changes are made soon, the goal of securing our borders will remain as elusive as ever.”

Aguilar again received a “no confidence” vote from his rank and file agents on February 25, 2009 (the next meeting will be early 2011).

According to the representatives of the National Border Patrol Council they unanimously supported a vote of “no confidence” for Chief Aguilar due to his lack of leadership abilities. This is hardly the glowing recommendation CBP headquarters described and another example of the ‘screw up and move up’ policies plaguing the CBP and Department of Homeland Security.

“We at the NPBC are very concerned about this ‘acting appointment’ becoming permanent,” says Shawn Moran, Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council. “Chief Aguilar is the first chief in the history of Border Patrol to ever receive the vote of ‘no confidence’ and he has received it twice.”

The NBPC contends his agenda has resulted in bad management by SES level managers, compromising security for trade, commerce, pro-open border and protect the illegal alien agenda of corporate America which has led to diminished security at the U.S./Mexico borders.

One of the reasons Aguilar has created tension within his rank-and-file coworkers is the shortening of the training time required to complete the Border Patrol training Academy. “Lack of training coupled with late back ground checks” is yet another example of Aguilar’s inexperience or worse negligence with what Border Patrol agents require to perform at the best of their abilities, says Moran.

The mission of Border Patrol is to control immigration and secure our borders, yet Aguilar supports amnesty and couches it with the responsibility of catching terrorists. “Our goal is to stop drug cartels and illegal aliens. Terrorist apprehension is secondary and we do that once we’ve done our primary job,” Moran explains. “How can we have a leader that doesn’t even know the mission of Border Patrol?”

“Chief Aguilar has done more damage to moral than anyone. To reward him is ridiculous,” Moran finished.

Moran’s statements are echoed by a number of sources who say that agent morale is the lowest ever and how agents used to talk about how they’d take a bullet for this agent or that agent.

It is clear that under the tutelage of Department of Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano, the country’s security is spiraling into disarray. Two of the leading agencies charged with protecting Americans from all forms of terrorism- foreign and domestic are at risk of letting something slip by due to negligence or worse politics.

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