Senator Rips DHS Secretary Over Low Morale In Light Of Immigration Bill That Would Give Her “Extraordinary Discretion”

On Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act before them, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) questioned Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano on border security and the low morale, particularly among Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. He said that if the bill became law it would give her "extraordinary discretion."

Speaking about sharing the concern of "Big Sis'" own ICE officers during an October 2011 Oversight hearing, Sessions reminded Napolitano that ICE believes that Napolitano is more concerned with meeting with special interests pro-immigration groups than supporting them and helping them to accomplish what the law requires in this country.

Now that has been nearly a year and a half ago and Sessions indicated that he had asked Napolitano if she had met with those officers. She told him, "No." He then directly asked her if she had spoken to the ICE officers members association as of the moment of the question posed and she said that she had not met with the union leaders, but she said she had spoken with ICE officers and border patrol agents in the field.

Sessions chided the Homeland Security Secretary for not meeting with the union leaders. "I think you should have met with them," the Alabama Senator said. "There's a real problem there, a very real problem."

"In December of 2012, a survey of federal agencies showed that morale of ICE employees had dropped in rankings to 279th out of 291 federal agencies," Sessions informed the Committee. "Were you aware that the morale at ICE has plummeted?" he asked Napolitano.

She declared that she was aware as she looked at the table in front of her and then looked up to say, "Employee morale is a real concern of mine; not just with ICE, it's throughout the department."

Would this be why her agency was being sued by Director of ICE Detention and Removal Operations James T. Hayes as Napolitano was apparently showing favoritism to women, while humiliating men in the agency? While I'm sure there are some TSA worker that enjoy it, perhaps it could be that some of the TSA workers are humiliated by having to grope passengers before they board planes.

Sessions even recalled that roughly two years ago there was a vote of no confidence in ICE director John Morton and pointed out to Napolitano that nothing has apparently been done to deal with his failed leadership.

"Under his (John Morton) direction, ICE has actually increased its enforcement efforts," she responded. "It's installed real priorities for the first time. He actually gets criticized for deporting too many people, as opposed to not enough people. So, it's a difficult, difficult job to have."

She also wanted to say that because of Morton's efforts we have "more secure communities."

"I can't disagree more about that," Sessions retorted. "That's not what the officers are saying. That's not what Chris Crane, the head of the association, testified to yesterday… he testified that agents are prohibited from enforcing the law and indeed, the ICE officers have filed a lawsuit."

Sessions also recounted his own experience. "I started out as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice in 1975. I have never heard of situation in which a group of law enforcement officers sued their supervisor, and you, for blocking them from following the law. They weren't complaining about pay, benefits or working conditions. They were saying the very oath they took to enforce the law is being blocked by rules and regulations and policies established from on high and that this is undermining their ability to do what they're sworn to do."

Napolitano then responded, "There are tensions with union leadership, unfortunately, but here's what I expect as a former federal prosecutor and attorney general, and that is that law enforcement agents enforce the law in accord with the guidance they're given from their superiors and that's what we ask of ICE. That's what we ask of Border Patrol. That's what we ask throughout the department and I believe that would be consistent with all law enforcement. Agents don't set the enforcement priorities. Those are set by their superiors."

One would have to note here that the CEO, Barack Obama has made it policy to not enforce the law concerning illegal immigrants, so clearly she is out to lunch when she makes these statements or is out right lying, knowing full well that Obama has set policy that does not enforce the law.

However, Senator Sessions informed the Homeland Secretary that "What Mr. Crane testified to was that there are provisions that say the agents shall do this, that and the other and that the policies set by their political supervisors, refuse to allow them to do what the law plainly requires. You are not entitled to set policies, are you that violate the mandates of congressional law?"

Napolitano said she disagreed with almost everything Sessions said, which wasn't what Sessions said, but what Crane said. She joked about "respectfully disagreeing" and then said "I think it does point to why I think this bill needs to be passed, because what we want our officers doing is focusing on narco-traffickers and human smugglers and money launderers and others who misuse our border and our immigration system."

Notice there was not one word about dealing with illegals coming across the border.

"By having a process," she answered, "that those in the country illegally can pay a fine, pay fees, register, so that we can know who they are…by dealing with the employer demand for illegal labor, by opening up the visa system, that will have the effect, basically, of confirming the focus of resources where they need to be."

So she basically did not respond to what was put forward to her at all and in addition she's talking about illegals paying fines, registering and paying fees. What is that about? The issue about employer demand and illegal labor will not just affect illegals, it will affect every U.S. citizen. Talk about a national ID card!

Sessions wasn't buying it though. While he said he appreciated her comments, he was concerned about the "vigor" of the department and both her leadership and Mr. Morton's. He also noted that "removals" were down by 40% than when Director Morton issued his 2011 prosecution memorandum which "basically undermined prosecutorial ability to function."

"That's why the morale is so low," Sessions concluded.

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