Katie Pavlich: Why is Obama ignoring the experts on illegal immigration?

Katie Pavlich: Why is Obama ignoring the experts on illegal immigration?
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There are some important voices that have been starkly absent as President Obama gets ready to issue an executive order that would usurp federal immigration law in the coming days.

“We’re all pretty much ticked,” a Border Patrol source told me shortly after details of the president’s plans hit the press last week. 

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Obama has claimed inaction from Congress has given him no choice in issuing executive action on this matter immediately, but the little praise he has given Congress went to the Senate after it passed the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration bill in summer 2013. The problem? That legislation failed to take into consideration the very people on the ground dealing with the issue and risking their lives in the process.

“When Washington discusses immigration reform it seems like business and advocacy groups are closely involved while professional immigration agents with real world experience, training and knowledge regarding the immigration matters facing our nation are not heard,” former Marine and National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council President Chris Crane wrote in a letter to Gang of Eight members in March 2013. “Fundamentally, I would implore you to consider this issue from the perspective of our officers who risk their lives everyday in a constant uphill climb to uphold the laws of the land.”

A separate letter with similar language was sent to Obama during the same time period. 

As the legislation was being written, considered and debated in Washington, multiple requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to meet with Obama at the White House and with Gang of Eight members on Capitol Hill to discuss the issue were rejected. Meanwhile, requests from illegal immigrants to meet with the president in the Oval Office were streamlined and promoted to the media. ICE and Border Patrol agents were ignored then, and they’re being ignored now as Obama readies his pen. 

Concerns of local law enforcement, specifically sheriffs’ departments across the country, are also being dismissed despite issuing dire warnings about the consequences of executive action while the border remains unsecure.  

“We are going to see what I’m seeing here on the border in larger and large numbers, which is a huge increase in illegal immigration coming across our border. An amnesty order is going to create [for] more people an incentive to come into the U.S.,” Hidalgo County Texas Sheriff Eddie Guerra said just two weeks ago. “The drug cartel will exploit any opportunity to come into the United States, and this will create the cover for them to continue exploiting our porous border. This will create the opportunity for kidnapping, trafficking, sexual abuse, prostitution, and smuggling. These smugglers have no regard for human life. They destroy private property. They have no respect for law enforcement. They circumvent US checkpoints. It’s a terrible situation.” 

“If the president issues his executive amnesty, you’ll see a dramatic surge of people coming in from all countries, including Central America — and again we won’t know who’s coming in: gangs, drugs, cartels, public health threats, human trafficking. We’re not catching but a small percentage of those coming across. This will place public safety in our communities in danger, and taxpaying citizens will be left picking up the tab,” Rockingham County, N.C., Sheriff Sam Page also warned. 

The failure to consider these perspectives devastates the ability of those in law enforcement to operate properly, to fulfill their mission and to uphold their oath of service. 

As part of Obama’s new 10-point plan, ICE agents will get a raise to “boost morale.” While there’s no doubt a pay increase would give agents a temporary boost, this pandering does little to address the real reason why the agents are frustrated. Morale is at an all-time low because agents aren’t able to do their jobs to enforce current, and effective, immigration law. 

“In denial about their principled objections to his scheme, now the president is hoping to stifle their voices by offering them a pay increase as part of this outrageous plan. His assumption that they are motivated by money shows just how little respect he has for the men and women who have devoted their careers to public service in immigration,” Center for Immigration Studies Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan recently wrote on the issue. 

Unfortunately — and predictably — the president isn’t listening to law enforcement agents who offer valuable expertise on the illegal immigration problem as he prepares to move forward with unconstitutional executive action. Instead, Obama is taking advice from bureaucrats who share his political agenda at the Department of Homeland Security and from his far-left, open-border base. 

Law enforcement agents are the first line of defense for the sovereignty of the country and for the safety of American citizens. Because of this, their voices and perspectives should be the first considered, not omitted from big decisions with serious long-term implications. 

Pavlich is the news editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.