The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is in charge of U.S. deportation procedures, has begun using a training course to change the way its immigration enforcement officers approach deportation. However, resistance to this training could constitute a roadblock to the sort of reform President Barack Obama is pursuing, The New York Times reported recently.
One of the most notable changes is that officers will now be focusing efforts on removing illegal immigrants from the country who have been convicted of crimes. Past efforts were less focused, meaning undocumented immigrants with clean records were as avidly investigated at those who had committed crimes. The training is designed to bring enforcement in line with new rules about deportation that were adopted by the Obama administration in 2011.
“We are in the very early stages of this, but this policy is as close to good news as we have seen in years,” said U.S. immigration services and law expert Geoffrey Scowcroft, in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter.
While the new training is a sign of a promising shift in immigration policy, the union that represents 7,000 of ICE’s deportation officers will not allow its members to participate in the new training, the Times reported. The recalcitrant officers say the training is politically motivated, and will result in agents not enforcing deportation laws that are currently on the books. While not necessarily making the new training obsolete, ICE believes that until union officials are on board, progress on immigration reform will be dramatically slowed.
Nearly all of ICE’s commanding officers and prosecutors have already undergone the training; however, the organization originally hoped to have all of its officers trained by January 13, 2012. Officials from the National ICE Council have not responded yet as to whether or not they will demand negotiations with the union, according to the Times.