More than two years into his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to implement many of the immigration reform promises that were central to his campaign, such as building a wall on the border with Mexico and ending many of the Obama-era policies that his supporters see as problematic.
Now, frustration is boiling over among the Immigration and Customs Enforcement ranks.
What's going on?
On Monday, the National ICE Council, a union that represents thousands of ICE agents, sent a scathing letter to the president criticizing him for failing to decisively act at ending policies they believe wreak havoc at the border and waste critical government resources.
"[I]n the midst of an immigration crisis on the southern border, your administration is squandering scarce ICE resources and playing political games with our officers, their mission, and the safety of the American public," the union wrote. "You frequently speak publicly of the great public safety work ICE is doing under your leadership. To be direct, Mr. President — the rhetoric doesn't match the reality."
Specifically, the union cited the infamous Obama-era policy of "catch and release," where illegal immigrants with no criminal background are released into the American public while they wait for the court system to hear their case. Oftentimes, release immigrants disappear into obscurity, beginning new lives in the shadows.
"'Catch and release' isn't just happening, it's in overdrive. Catch and release must continue as ICE doesn't have sufficient custody space to hold the massive number of family units illegally entering the United States every day. DHS resources on the border are overwhelmed," the letter stated. "Political games in Washington, D.C., have rendered the United States completely incapable of controlling its southern border.
"Hundreds of man hours are wasted each day at a time of crisis on the border when the focus of our leadership should be streamlining efforts an eliminating redundant and unnecessary work," the letter continued.
The problem is so grave that "this seemingly benign policy matter is in actuality the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing" as it applies to national security, the union said.
"You don't like 'fake news' and neither do our officers, so instead let's provide transparency, tell Americans the truth, and stop this nonsense and these wasteful and dangerous policies now," the union went on to write.
Full text of letter sent from National ICE Council president Chris Crane to POTUS yesterday regarding the catch-and… https://t.co/pqaHSaqxzq— Nate Madden (@Nate Madden)1552403551.0
In 2016, the National ICE Council endorsed Trump for president. It was the first time the organization ever endorsed a candidate for the White House.
How did the government respond?
Although the White House did not issue a direct statement, the Department of Homeland Security blamed a stagnant Capitol Hill and a growing border crisis for issues faced by government agencies at the border, according to the Washington Times.
"We have repeatedly sounded the alarm with Congress as resources are being stretched across DHS as agencies work to contain this historic surge. ICE and CBP are fully engaged on a coordinated response and continue to update Congress on the challenges faced by our agents and officers at the border," the department said.