A bipartisan pair of senators is calling for measures to be taken to protect federal immigration officers. This comes in response to a growing concern over a wave of attacks on law enforcement personnel.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-MO) noted in a letter to the Homeland Security Department Inspector General that assaults on ICE officers have spiked this year. They asked the IG to investigate why the uptick has occurred and what steps DHS and ICE can take to better protect employees.
“Anytime you have an increase in assaults against our law enforcement officers, you need to find out why and take steps to ensure their protection,” McCaskill said. “Protecting law enforcement isn’t a partisan issue, which is why I’m happy to be taking action along with my Republican colleague.”
There have been 19 recorded assaults on ICE personnel this year, through May 22, according to ICE. By comparison, there were only 24 incidents in all of 2016. The two senators have also requested data since 2010, what DHS/ICE have already done to protect employees, and whether assailants have been prosecuted.
ICE acting director Thomas Homan blamed the media and immigrant groups for putting officers at risk by promoting false or misleading reports about the nature of their jobs. His employees have been “unfairly vilified for simply trying to do their jobs”.
“People have the right to protest but ICE officers also have rights. They have a right to enforce the law safely and return to their families at the end of the day. In the country I grew up in, you should be worried if you’re violating the law.” He said officers shouldn’t be threatened or blamed for laws they didn’t write. Too often the respect afforded to other law enforcement officers isn’t extended to ICE officers.
He went on to say, “Unlike most other agencies, we do this despite a constant deluge of biased attacks against ICE personnel by those who disagree with the laws we enforce.”