News reports indicate that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Customs and Border Protections (CBP) officers unions, who were actively involved in shaping immigration under former President Trump, are undermining the Biden administration’s immigration policies. Both CBP and ICE’s unions—respectively, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) and the AFGE National ICE Council (NIC)—made the unprecedented move of endorsing Donald Trump in 2016, the first time the unions had ever endorsed a presidential candidate. The public deserves answers about whether these politicized unions are undermining a new administration’s policy priorities.

Their loyalty did not go unnoticed. The union presidents, Brandon Judd of NBPC and Chris Crane of NIC, apparently had a direct line of communication with Trump that bypassed official reporting channels, which has apparently emboldened the unions under Biden. In one instance of outsized influence, Judd “appeared at a joint press conference with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, at which the governor denounced Biden’s reversal of Trump-era policies and announced that he’d be sending Texas Department of Public Safety officers to the border.” This seems to have been a “deliberate attempt to undermine the chain of command that runs from rank-and-file agents to the president.” In another, the day before Biden’s inauguration, Crane executed agreements with Trump DHS political appointee Kenneth Cuccinelli that would grant the union “the ability to ‘indefinitely delay’ the implementation of agency policies.” Following a whistleblower complaint alleging that the agreements were a “gross…abuse of authority,” DHS reviewed and disapproved the union agreements.

CREW has requested records from the union chiefs for CBP and ICE on any communications with Trump, Abbott, Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, or with Cuccinelli or Robert Law. CREW also has requested records on any potential or actual agreement between the NBPC and DHS, ICE or CBP. Finally CREW has requested any communications related to any CBP or ICE records destruction schedule. 

The public deserves a fuller picture of the influence ICE and CBP’s unions have on immigration policy, elected officials and former President Trump, and any attempts to cover their tracks through records destruction. On top of reports of ICE’s human rights abuses towards detained people, ICE also attempted to destroy records documenting these abuses, which CREW sued on and halted. ICE and CBP and their unions need to be held accountable for their influence and any intentional sabotaging of Biden’s immigration policies and priorities.

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