In February, U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, questioned the Obama Administration on the president’s February 25 comments that there would be “consequences” for federal immigration officials who continue deportations after the president’s November immigration executive actions.
The White House did not respond directly, but instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to respond to Lankford on August 27, 2015.
In the past eight months, courts have blocked the president’s executive immigration action. In February, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas blocked parts of the program, and in May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied a request from the Administration to allow the program to move forward.
Multiple questions remain regarding the Administration’s immigration enforcement procedures and expectations for federal officials. Six months after the initial inquiry, the Administration has failed to answer any of the pertinent questions posed by Lankford. Earlier this month, Lankford sent a follow-up letter to ICE asking for further clarification and a response by October 10.
Obama’s February 25 “consequences” comments were in response to a preliminary injunction by a federal district court in Texas against the president’s immigration executive overreach, effectively supporting the continuation of deportations.
In response to the confusion created by President Obama’s comments, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, in March said, “The president’s threat and unwillingness to answer Senator Lankford’s inquiries make it more difficult for agents to accomplish their mission. Border security will only be further degraded by this confusion.”
Also in March, National ICE Council President Chris Crane said, “While in the military, I was never asked to violate the law or the Constitution of the United States, but that’s exactly what the president is ordering ICE officers to do. To publicly threaten law enforcement officers and their families for enforcing laws enacted by Congress is an unthinkable and unprecedented act by a sitting president; all while he essentially pardons and provides benefits to millions who have violated the nation’s immigration laws.”
Lankford is the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, which maintains jurisdiction of the federal workforce, including ICE.