On Tuesday, November 5th, Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council, wrote a public letter denouncing business support for immigration reform. Lead anti-immigrant organizations such as FAIR and NumbersUSA re-published the letter, and on Thursday, NumbersUSA requested that supporters call their representatives in response, and ask them to oppose renewed efforts at an immigration reform deal.
The union Crane heads represents more than 7,000 deportation agents. In the letter, he leverages his position as president of the union to claim reform would endanger the safety of ICE agents. Crane doesn’t defend this position. Neither does he defend his assertion that reform would constitute “special protections and legalization for violent criminals and gang members illegally in the United States.” Is Crane saying that all immigrants are violent criminals? It certainly echoes a favorite anti-immigrant talking point, and earlier statements by Crane.
Crane’s public letter, which boldly mimics anti-immigrant bigotry and fear-based strategies, is as much a political maneuver, as it is an attempt to advocate for the workers he represents.
This is nothing new for Crane. In the last two years he has become an active player in the nativist movement, and has been particularly busy recently. In April, he attended FAIR’s annual conference, Hold Their Feet to the Fire. In May he used flawed data to back up his opposition to any reform proposal. In August, Crane spoke at a sparsely attended rally in Virginia, meant to kick off a “Stop Amnesty Tour.” The event was hosted by NumbersUSA, the Tea Party Patriots and the Eagle Forum.
In the previous year Crane used his position to obstruct the implementation of new immigration enforcement practices. He actively opposed agency-wide trainings on prosecutorial discretion. He was the lead plaintiff in a failed lawsuit designed to block an executive order on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which gives eligible undocumented youth temporary relief from deportation proceedings.
The absence of any clear attempt to reign in Crane points to larger problems within ICE itself. While any evaluation of ICE would necessarily begin with the policies it executes (in particular the record number of deportations in recent years), it’s also important to note that the agency itself is not well run, and agents are not well-trained. In many cases, the blame for this state of affairs should not fall on individual agents but on an agency that is ill-prepared to carry out its mission in a humane way.
While these problems are clearly far larger than Crane, he has repeatedly obstructed attempts to reform ICE and immigration enforcement. In his actions and words, it is clear that Crane is aligned with the anti-immigrant movement. It is their interests he represents.