The Special Agent in Charge of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), Mr. James T. Hayes, Jr. has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claiming that the Secretary has engaged in a pattern and practice of sex discrimination against heterosexual men by creating a hostile work environment for them within DHS. Now, we believe that everyone deserves a fair and harassment free workplace, but our skepticism of the sincerity of this complaint makes us think, “Puh-leeze.” Bureaucrats within ICE have been undermining and sabotaging their political leadership since President Obama was elected and it is hard to see how this is not just the opening of another front in that war.
Just last month, ICE agents appeared with Senator Jeff Sessions and other Republican critics of the President’s program to provide deferred action to certain potential DREAM Act beneficiaries to denounce the plan. Now ICE agents are free to have their opinions, but they are also obligated to follow the law and the President’s program is a lawful exercise of his executive authority. They may not like it, but they have to follow it. Rather, the ICE agent’s union retreats into a revanchist clique afraid of change. As we have reported many times before, the ICE agents union has made no secret of the fact that they oppose the President’s approach to immigration enforcement. These bureaucrats have voted “no confidence” in ICE Director John Morton, as if they were in the British Parliament and not employees who have a responsibility to follow the direction of their leaders. In fact, their status as government employees makes it far more important that they follow the directives of the political leadership. Like them or not, Secretary Napolitano and Director Morton are the designees of the President, who was elected by the American people. When they refuse to follow the leadership of the political appointees, ICE bureaucrats are telling the American people that they, the unelected, know best as to the proper policy for the U.S. It is profoundly undemocratic.
Of course, it is heartening to see conservatives embrace laws that protect against sexual harassment. This is a marked improvement since 2009 when all but five Republican Senators voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. However, it is hard to imagine that the ICE bureaucrats have taken a new tack on civil rights. A 2011 report by the American Civil Liberties Union demonstrates that ICE has shown galling indifference to sexual abuse in immigration detention. In addition, bureaucratic griping has an outlet in a numerous wingnut websites. In June 2012, wingnut Debbie Schlussel reported about how bureaucrats within ICE seethed at trainings intended to protect civil rights for members of the LGBT community.
It is very difficult to resist the conclusion that this lawsuit is an attempt to further tarnish the agency as it embarks upon a plan to enact intelligent immigration enforcement through deferred action to would-be DREAMers. It is designed to inflame the passions of the easily perturbed and to label the President and his appointees as enemies of the values of decent Americans. This is politics and, as always, it is played with a hardball.