ICE’s Union President Relishes Role as Nativist Player

Jill Garvey • Apr 09, 2013

Last August anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA and beleaguered lawyer Kris Kobach filed suit against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton. The lawsuit was nothing more than an attempt by the nativist lobby to mount an attack on Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. NumbersUSA and Kobach had a new ally in their quest, ICE union president Chris Crane, who agreed to serve as the plaintiff.

A Huffington Post article at the time posited:

Crane’s reaction to the administration’s enforcement priorities shows that the union’s leadership, apparently out of touch with its own members, is hell bent on maintaining the status quo — indiscriminate arrest, detention, prosecution, and deportation of immigrants — without thinking about what’s best for America.

During the telephonic press briefing to discuss the lawsuit, Crane was surprisingly outspoken. It was clear that he was taking after savvier anti-immigrant golden boy Kris Kobach in his quest for publicity attention. It also became clear in the months since that Crane is more than a one-hit wonder. In fact, he’s been lurking in the wings for some time now. In 2009 he made an appearance alongside Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian during a Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee. Back then Crane was merely the Vice President for Detention and Removal Operations at the American Federation of Government Employees National ICE Council. Just recently he was back in front of a congressional committee representing the interests of anti-immigrant groups. This time he appeared alongside Jessica Vaughn, also of Center for Immigration Studies, at a Senate Judiciary Hearing.

Not only has he risen through the ranks of ICE National Council, the union for ICE agents, he’s also made powerful friends along the way. Sen. Jeff Sessions, a darling among the anti-immigrant crowd, has taken a particular shine to him. The two even made a YouTube video together recently discussing “border chaos.”

Paling around with a rabidly anti-immigrant lawmaker seems like a bad choice for the union head. But his allegiances are obvious when one looks at his treatment of the AFL-CIO, of which the ICE Union is an affiliate. In January, Crane sent out a press release slamming AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, saying in dramatic fashion “…you don’t speak for us.”

The real question is who does Chris Crane speak for? It’s hard to believe that the ICE National Council’s members really believe they are hurt by fixing the immigration system. More likely Mr. Crane is using his influence as the Union’s head to air his anti-immigrant laundry.

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