Has a Sanctuary Mentality Taken Root at ICE? That Depends on Your Source.

This past July, Jonathan Blitzer published a piece in The New Yorker called, “A Veteran ICE Agent, Disillusioned with the Trump Era, Speaks Out.” The article implies that, for moral reasons, many U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees have adopted the sanctuary mindset. The source of this information is supposedly an experienced ICE employee – working in immigration since the Clinton administration – who has become disillusioned under President Trump. (He’s never identified, so we’ll call him “Agent X.”) However, the exposé is so riddled with errors that it makes one wonder: Do these complaints really come from a street-level ICE employee? Or someone higher up the food chain with a stake in the Clinton/Obama approach to immigration?

Supposedly, Agent X came forward because, “…with Obama gone…,” he saw “long-standing standards being discarded and basic protocols questioned.” But that assertion doesn’t make any sense at all. It was the Obama administration that abandoned established operational principles and kept ICE employees from engaging in good immigration police work. The Trump administration has merely said, “Enforce the INA as written” – allowing ICE employees to finally do their jobs again.

Agent X also claims that he fears being sued. But immigration officers enforcing federal law, as written, and in good faith, are protected from personal lawsuits by a longstanding legal principle known as qualified immunity. Of course this agent’s fear seems to stem from the fact that he sees his job as preserving the best interests of illegal aliens and criminals, rather than protecting the American people by enforcing the INA.

The truth is, however, that Agent X is more likely to wind up the object of legal action based on  his assertion that he and his like-minded colleagues are “trying to figure out how to minimize the damage” flowing from the Trump administration’s policies. Immigration agents who refuse to enforce the INA typically wind up being fired. Those who actively impede its enforcement are subject to prosecution for crimes ranging from harboring illegal aliens to corruption. It’s no wonder he doesn’t want to identify himself.

Some readers might wonder if average ICE employees are really like Agent X. Rest assured they are not. The vast majority of the dedicated men and women working enforcement-level jobs at ICE understand what the mainstream media and the Democratic Party don’t seem to get: Americans are tired of illegal aliens and alien criminals getting a free pass. That’s why the ICE agents’ union sued the Obama administration over its prosecutorial discretion policies. In an organization as large as the Department of Homeland Security, there are bound to be a few Agent X’s. But their patriotic colleagues pay far less attention to them than the whining cultural elites in the mainstream media. Agent X got his 15 minutes of fame…while his fellow agents were getting down to business.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    We must continue to enforce the immigration laws. Latinos are in general very good people, except for some gang members and traffickers of people and drugs. The ones we really have to watch out for are the “others” that are here for crime and jihadis that want to cause chaos, destruction, and murder. We must avoid what Europe is going through, having ignored security while millions of islamic psychotic murderers flooded their shores. Internal enforcement and immigration controls are essential for the survival of the US.

  2. avatar

    Actually it’s the agent’s own words in the New Yorker article that prove he is not expressing the opinion of most of the other agents. He is quoted as saying , “I have a couple of colleagues that I can kind of talk to, but not many.” But that doesn’t stop the author from making false assumptions that he attributes to the rest.

  3. avatar

    Qualified immunity does not prevent agents from being sued under Bivens. ACLU and agenda litigators use Harvard/Yale and other pre-law students and interns to do all the work pro-bono.

    Yes there are Obama appointed sympathizers in high positions within every agency including ICE.

  4. avatar

    But wasn’t Obama the “deporter in chief”? According to Chuck Schumer in Feb. 2014 he was.

    ” ‘ Now I think that the rap against him–that he won’t enforce the law–is false.’ Schumer said on NBC’s Meet The Press. ‘He’s deported more people than any other president.’ ”

    It was all lies of course, made up figures like everything else he did, but it was a convenient lie at the time to try and get “reform” aka amnesty passed.

    • avatar

      You are so blind that you do not see how low we are now with all these blatant lies and decency, convictions, patriotism and care to The People is gone……

      Even Robert Lee was against statues and believed the statues would make us go backwards…and indeed see what happened in Virginia…..Robert Lee was right……

      • avatar

        The blatant lie was that Obama was strictly enforcing the law. He started counting those turned around at the border as a deportation. Nothing to say about Schumer’s lie?

        • avatar

          Her some feedback from Yahoo on what your vite us doing to our country:

          Yahoo – ABC News Network
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          Avatar Michael 1 day ago
          Who could have guessed that a reality tv star with no government experience, 6 bankruptcies, 5 kids from 3 different marriages, 11 charges of sexual assault, and 4000 plus lawsuits, could be so bad at being president? Trump is one who is against lots of things but doesn’t seem to be for anything, offers bombastic and contradictory promises, is a terrifying Orwellian statesman, insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants and Muslims. Trump avoided several chances to disavow David Duke, an advocate for white supremacy and former klan leader. Trump is a person who easily lies, who creates an environment where the truth doesn’t seem to matter, who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment. He is an infantile, bullying man, who depending on his mood is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties and long-standing relationships, Trump’s candidacy is a political Ponzi scheme. Asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.
          Hide replies Reply 619 165

          Remember your vote got us in this mess n we have gone back wards a century…..

          • avatar

            That was Obama. Race relations were set back many years by him and his constant efforts from the beginning to turn everything into something racial. He made heroes out of criminals like Michael Brown.

          • avatar

            Obamallah did 10 times that in less than 8 years. you want all these damn illegals here driving up the cost of schooling, insurance, housing, medical care, etc.? You must be one of them to support something so detrimental to this country. And don’t give me the cheap labor crap, I would rather pay $2 for a head of lettuce than have these illegal aliens in my country. Not to mention all the mudslimes causing problems by setting up clusters of sharia law, chinese trying to buy up everything and virtually own the country, and gangs with nothing on their mind but causing chaos. The libtards are trying to keep more of this happening so that soon we will be nothing more than a third world country with famines, constant fighting, disease, and death. Think about it. You said we are going backwards a hundred years; keep up your antics and attacks on the man trying to clean up obamallahs mess and follow the constitution and we will soon be going back to the 1800s. You gotta be a libtard!!!