The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) recently sent an angry letter of protest to presidential aspirant Barack Obama challenging his characterization of ICE agents who enforce immigration law as terrorists. And today, ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers sent a letter to Congressman Luis Gutierrez requesting an apology for calling ICE the “Gestapo.”
In his letter to Obama, FLEOA President Art Gordon criticizes remarks he said Obama made at a La Raza convention this past July: “I take great exception to your disparaging remark [that] ‘communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids.'”
Gordon does not hide his frustration at the increasing habit of politicians to blame ICE agents and other law enforcement for carrying out their sworn duty with regard to immigration: Enforcing the laws passed by Congress. He sarcastically notes that it is Congress that has failed to pass immigration laws, leaving federal agents in the difficult position of enforcing the outdated law even as Congress fails to enact reform.
“It’s one thing to remark intelligently on the need for immigration reform,” Gordon writes, “but it’s quite another to berate ICE law enforcement officers who are risking their lives to enforce the laws passed by Congress. To wit, your quotation might have read better if you stated ‘… communities are terrorized by the antiquated laws passed by Congress.’ You, and your fellow members of Congress, have yet to enact any meaningful legislation that would bring about true immigration reform. Your bipartisan fumble should not translate into labeling our members as terrorists by implication.”
Gordon concludes his letter noting that many of the men and women of ICE were part of the first responder community during and after 9/11 and who continue to risk their lives for the security of their country. He invites Obama to meet with the officers of FLEOA to get a better grasp of the law enforcement mission and community.
I’ve written repeatedly on this matter of politicians — particularly members of Congress — failing to enact immigration reform but then attacking ICE agents as convenient scapegoats. Besides Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi characterizing agents as terrorists, you also have Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Sam Farr calling them the “Gestapo.”
ICE chief Julie Myers rightly called on Gutierrez to apologize. In an August 8th letter to the congressman, she wrote: “These comments cross any line of decency and are an affront to the men and women at this agency who perform their sworn duties, often at great personal risk. Most troubling, irresponsible comments like these, vilifying law enforcement officers, can have a significant impact on officer and public safety.”
Myers is right. As she notes in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many members of Congress want to change current immigration law. More power to them. The law is in need of reform. However, they need to turn their criticism inward. These scapegoat attacks are so shameful on their face, little additional comment is necessary. It’s a very troubling trend.
It’s time for the political class to grow up. Members of Congress need to work in a bipartisan fashion to find a solution rather than continue attacking the good men and women of ICE for simply doing their job — a job required of them by Congress.