January 26, 2012, - 12:26 pm

Immigration Agents: We Rated ICE Near Bottom of 240 Agencies b/c Obama F’d It Up, Caters to Left

By Debbie Schlussel

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents rated their agency 222nd out of 240 agencies, saying their agency is in the bottom 8% of all federal agencies in the 2011 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.  Gee, I wonder why.  After Barack Obama and his administration constantly attacking ICE agents and stopping them from doing their jobs;  after Obama hiring a La Raza activist as his immigration policy point person (and then appointing her his top policy person on all issues);  after the agency creates forms and hotline numbers encouraging illegal aliens–the few that ICE is allowed to detain under Obama–to report agents as “civil rights violators,” I’m actually surprised the agency was as high as 222nd and not dead last.  But not John Moron Morton, the Obama chief of ICE who is busy using 9/11 for government-funded booty calls to see his girlfriend in New York and using your tax dollars to stay at froofy Kimpton Hotels and eat at fancy Asian-Fusion restaurants. The reason ICE agents hate their agency is that morale is at an all time low, and much of that is because of Barack Hussein Obama and the people he picked to run Homeland Security and ICE. They are incompetent cronyist bureaucrats with ZERO law enforcement experience. NONE.


Partners in Crime

Yesterday, Morton sent ICE agents a silly e-mail relaying his “concern” that his agents think he and the agency are a joke and that morale is bad.  It’s something he apparently doesn’t see because he’s too busy pretending to be important and letting Janet Napolitano’s pointchick, Suzie “Stripper Pole” Barr run the agency . . . into the ground.  To address the low morale, instead of resigning, he and his boss, Janet Napolitano a/k/a “Albert Nobbs-itano” are spending your money to create a bureaucratic “steering committee.” I hear it will be headed by Captain Francesco Schettino.

I’m, frankly, not sure why ICE even still exists since it lost its mission to investigate terrorism money-laundering, agents aren’t allowed to arrest most illegal aliens anymore, and the few things left–like stopping kiddie-porn–are duplicative efforts done by local police. Oh, and we don’t need a special government agency to take away trinkets that divers and traders obtained and gift it to some current ruling Islamic regime, another ICE “mission.” Usually, when your employees rank you in the bottom 7.5% of your industry, it’s grounds for immediate dismissal and a radical change of game plan. But this is the gubmint . . . and they’re here to help you. Below is Moron’s laughable missive (I’ve cut out a good deal of his BS for the sake of brevity), followed by a spot-on ICE agent’s smackdown–a MUST-READ:

From: ICE-Broadcast
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 1:19 PM
Subject: A Message from Director Morton
Importance: High

A Message from Director Morton

To all ICE employees

January 25, 2012

The Partnership for Public Service recently ranked the best places to work in the Federal Government. The rankings were based on three of 70 questions in the 2011 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Those three questions asked whether you would recommend ICE as a good place to work, how satisfied you are with your job and how satisfied you are with ICE.

Like several components in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE did not fare particularly well. ICE ranked 222 of 240. This concerns me and ICE leadership. Recently, Secretary Napolitano created a DHS Employee Engagement Executive Steering Committee (ESC) to address the survey results.

Although ICE, as a relatively young agency, has faced challenges that other more mature, long-established agencies have not faced, these challenges do not diminish our concern about the rankings. We want to improve the satisfaction of our employees who work every day to carry out our critical mission.

I have asked Daniel Ragsdale, executive associate director for management and administration, and his team in ICE’s Office of Human Capital to lead our effort to improve your satisfaction with employment at ICE. During this process, they will consider how other law enforcement agencies operate and how the unique aspects of ICE’s mission affect a career at ICE.

Over the next several months, ICE managers will conduct town hall meetings and attend labor management forums to address the survey results. We will use your feedback, negative and positive, as a foundation for identifying and analyzing areas for improvement. . . .

In addition to soliciting employee feedback at town hall meetings, we will consult with the unions that represent ICE’s two bargaining units for their input and will honor any collective bargaining obligations that we have with them. I appreciate your feedback and ask for your participation as leadership seeks to identify ways to improve your satisfaction and to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of ICE.

Ours is a very important mission – one that would be impossible without the dedication of our talented and committed employees. You work hard every day to protect this country, and I am proud of you and your accomplishments.

John Morton


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

An ICE Agent responds:

Don’t laugh too hard when you read this one…. Perhaps if this Obama Administration and the cronies running ICE allowed the employees of ICE to do the job that they were all hired to do, ICE would have scored higher than the abysmal 222 of 240 agencies reviewed. Instead, employees continue to be demoralized as senior leaders cater to unfounded accusations by far-left Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and human rights groups always finding fault with the law enforcement tactics used by ICE officers, long before any review is completed which ultimately exonerates officers.

These senior leaders appointed by Barack Obama and this Obama Administration have sold immigration enforcement and the good employees of ICE downriver–piling more and more meaningless requirements on employees so it gets to the point that they’re too busy answering questions and adhering to procedures than enforcing the law. I don’t know what planet these people live on – or what illegal substance they are smoking to come up with bulls**t like this. All they have to do–John Morton, Suzie Barr [ICE Chief of Staff, who is really running the agency for Napolitano], Beth Gibson [ICE Assistant Deputy Director], and Dan Ragsdale [DS: ICE Executive Associate Director of Management and Administration, a BS position created just for him]–is look in the mirror to find the culprit of the systemic demoralization of thousands of good law enforcement officers.

Solicit employee feedback??? More like start a witch hunt for those that have expressed poor morale.

Meaning??Do managers convey ICE goals and priorities, and do they share information about our progress in meeting them? Do employees have clarity regarding how their work relates to these goals? Does the work bring ICE employees a feeling of personal accomplishment? Of course these fools convey the goals and priorities….and who cares about progress in meeting them. ICE employees know the progress. Immigration enforcement is dead. Clarity in goals? Employees heads are spinning because they can’t keep up with all the Tiers and Levels these idiots have created on immigration enforcement matters. The only priority these fools have is to let people stay and get new voters. Personal accomplishment – non existent.

Leadership – Overall, are employees satisfied with the policies and practices of leadership? This issue is brought to the forefront by the fact that the union gave a unanimous vote of non-confidence in John Morton.

What a farce. I wonder how much these idiots are going to pay for townhall meetings to travel all over the country so Beth Gibson can visit grandma in Seattle and Suzie Barr can visit her buddies in Arizona – all to “improve morale.”

With fools like these running the country – we’re all doomed.

[Emphasis added by me.]

It was bad under Julie L. Myers a/k/a “The ICE Princess.” It’s far worse under John Moron and Albert Nobbs-itano. Time to clean house.

November 2012 cannot come soon enough. And BTW, if you wanna take a poll about for whom ICE agents are voting come November, I’ll give you a hint: It’s about 90% for “the GOP nominee against Obama.” Even some Black agents I know want Obama OUT!


Actual DHS Recruitment Ad


Artwork by David Lunde/Lundesigns

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42 Responses

The silly GOPers running against Obama should sound like DS’ first paragraph. She gets it, it was spot-on and succinct. But they struggle in the web of PCness and the country is circling the drain.

This whole post illuminates what hell is wrong with USA these days. The only moron it is missing is Eric Holder but you know he is involved as well. Zero, his drag-queen wife, this moron Morton, that diet-coke freak Meyers, “Chaz” Napolitano and Eric Holder in tandem ALWAYS make he have a brain-explosion!!!!!

If the Zero gets re-elected, we deserve all the misery we will get.

The only levity we have is when DS satirizes all these yobos to make it go down with SOME smoothness. Love the new nickname for “Chaz” Napolitano. I at least could laugh at that part.

Thanks Liberals! We’re on the good ship Schettino!!!!!

Skunky on January 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

The employment satisfaction survey does sound like a joke. Also, attending any town hall meetings could be quite dangerous, as noted by the agent. Those sessions could be used to identify potential troublemakers.

Worry01 on January 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm

This, again, is laughable and pathetic. Bureaucrats (incompetent and inexperienced) doing what they do best: Throw dollars and memos and regulations and form committees to try to find out what the problem is and write up a report about it (someone will get a 14 or 15 over this). Then what? Nothing.

The problem is that DHS/ICE/HSI is a dysfunctional agency, that lacks leadership and professionalism, doesn’t have law enforcement professionals in charge, lacks a clear mission, and has allowed incompetence, ridiculousness, ignorance, inexperience, immaturity, and keystone kopdom to flourish.

DHS/ICE wants results? Send the Clown managers on TDY’s to an Enforcement area ( and I don’t mean The Hague), send them, for example, to the SW border where they would have to work nights, holidays and weekends, let them get a taste of what the real world is like. Demand Professionalism from its management team, not Clownism. Move them around too, too many Clowns get too comfortable literally getting promoted at the same desk. Ethical standards should be enforced: No ass-kissing the boss. Promote the one’s that pass the tests AND have the experience and resume that goes along with it, not someone they “like”. This one has been abused for decades and should be immediately addressed because the result has been: Too many Clowns with no experience, but plenty of incompetence, and legends in their own minds, are being “selected”.

It should be very simple for DHS/ICE:

Get rid of the Clowns.

Then get to work on stuff that really matters.

MF Jones on January 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Well, I think I understand why this agency was 222nd, not last: this type of bureaucracy and stifling the supposed objectives of an agency is not unique to DHS/ICE. Look at the “Justice” Dept; and all the rest of them, the supposed suppression of mortgage fraud, all the welfare cheaters that the govt. doesn’t do anything about, etc., etc.

Little Al on January 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm

The greatest enemy free people in this country faces is not the mooslems….but the bloated, cancerous government. If we are able to put a RINO into the White House and they have enough moxie to start house cleaning, you better be sure that the government will surpress such actions. Don’t believe it? Are you too young to remember Kent State? All the great leaders of two centuries warned about a bloated government and we have a cancer that increases daily. Don’t believe Captain Zero will get back into office? Who would have believe that this nothing would have gotten into office in the first place? Freedom loving people like us are a minority and we need to prepare for the inevitable….unless enough wake up and stop the raping of our country.

AreJayMac on January 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I agree with most of the column, and teh fact that ICE is totally screwed up. But I disagree with one item: the title for Ragsdale wasn’t made up for him. I worked for the ICE Human Capital Officer for five years (2005-2010). I knew Dan Ragsdale and his predecessor, whom DS has written about before – Theresa Bertucci. Ragsdale replaced Bertucci as the senior executive over the administrative side of the house. Gibson functions in what used to be known as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations position (i.e., the head law enforcement agent for ICE), just like Ragsdale/Bertucci used to be known as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management. The names of the positions were changed, but the duties remained the same. These are not made-up positions – they are executive level positions authorized for ICE by the Office of Personnel Management. What should be looked at are the qualifications of Ragsdale to be in that position. On that item, I would have no argument – he is not qualified. He watches over the personnel and financial decisions of the agency. No wonder things are screwed up.

Bob D. on January 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm

If my memory serves me – Beth Gibson- buddy to political appointees – was brought over initially from DOJ as senior counsel to the Assistant Secretary – now known as the Director. She was then hired as the permanent Deputy Director – but her title does not have ‘operations’. I heard they flew her out to meet with employees on the West Coast for one day – only to fly her back that night for her SES interview the next day – then back to Seattle for a useless townhall immediately after at great expense so she could have her visit with grandma. Seattle employees said the visit was useless. She also arranges for buddies who have no LEO experience to in getting ‘appointed’ in law enforcement positions in locations such as Seattle. As for the DD Ops – belongs to Kumar Kibble. Unfortunately – looks like ICE is stuck with Beth. Hopefully the kingdom will change in November 2012 and she like other SESs will be given 2 weeks notice to report to another position far from ICE or be terminated from government service. As they say – what goes around – comes around. There will be alot of us sitting on the sidelines munching on popcorn waiting to watch this one.

belugajedi on January 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hey wait a minute guys…EVS and Priceless say this is a great agency! And if they say so—-well what the hell it must be the truth!!!!

notanEVSfan on January 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Just like prior to 911 the govemnt didn t allow their employess to profile possible suspects based on ethnicity at the time it was inept Gorelick or whatever the hell her name is,now we have not only ineptitud but also ideology as a result we the people have paid the price of their ineptitud,the thought of 4 more years of this kenyan crapper 4 more years in the WH gives me the willys…that would be the end of America as we knew it.

Juan on January 27, 2012 at 2:00 am

When Marcy Forman left ICE, everyone thought it would be a great place to work, well, at least in HQ. Wrong. “No Clue” Myers came in and appointed the same idiots to run the shop. Then Morton came in and most thought, good, this is the guy to set things right. Wrong again. It’s kinda like major league baseball in that the same old managers that were fired one day are back the next in a different position. Until you get leaders who have done the job, been on the front lines and not career DC knuckleheads, you will contiune to get this lame “leadership.” Glad I’m out.

WilliamMunny on January 27, 2012 at 8:53 am

Wish I had a nickel for every employee satisfaction survey I filled out. Never did see any action taken on them. Imagine that!

A Lynch on January 27, 2012 at 10:42 am

LMFAO!!!!!!! This agency has been abysmal since its conception. Julie Myers, Marcy Forman, and the rest of those clowns drove it even further into the dirt. Legacy customs twinkies took over and wreaked havoc on the field. “Do as I say, not as I do” became the marching order and those who chose to stand on their feet, not drink the koolaid, and not get on their knees were made to suffer.

The results of this waste of taxpayers’ money as evidenced by the dismal vote of confidence comes as no surprise here….saw this coming a long time ago.

IceNoMore on January 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

There must be have been an addendum to that Morton Survey Memo censoring employees’ speech because I expected more comments on this site. So, in the interim, I will pitch in again.

One of the major problems with DHS/ICE/HSI is historical, by that I mean the fact that the Immigration side that was brought in has always been a political hot potato that no one wanted to touch, the Immigration system, as it was, was more of a administrative compliance agency, and their agents were not true “criminal investigators” more “administrative facilitators”. And, their management corps was full of incompetent, ass-kissing morons, that were experts in the bullshit immigration bureaucratic process, and nothing more.

Come the merger they were coupled with the Customs dweebs, assholes, idiots, and incompetents, but at the very least they had a core group of real criminal investigators that functioned rather well, although a lot of them were not liked by Customs management because they got the job done, and most managers were from the ass-kissing school at Customs (historically at Customs the ‘knee pads’ were a rumored way of advancing.)

So now you have the merger and two very different cultures coming together, one bureaucratic and incompetent, the other fairly competent, but struggling to stay afloat in spite of the Customs dweebs.

The result: The Clowns have taken over, filled most positions of authority and decision making, with their fake tough guy, incompetent, inexperienced, immature, (some former illegal alien), legends in their own minds, non-professional, bullying, gossip prone selves. And the future is set, just look at what their promoting and selecting to run it.

MF Jones on January 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Hey MF – GO F yourself.

Really, eight years after the merger we have to hear this crap:

“the Immigration system, as it was, was more of a[n] administrative compliance agency, and their agents were not true “criminal investigators” more “administrative facilitators”.”

Why don’t you tell that to the people I put in jail, some of whom are still behind bars, back under the immigration system to which you refer. Seems to me when I was obtaining warrants, executing searches, making criminal arrests and disarming felons I sure felt like a criminal investigator. As for administrative enforcement as a law enforcement tool, why don’t you ask our VGTF partners what they thought about our ability to deport some gang banger back to Jamaica, El Salvador or Hong Kong?

For Debbie, any one from the public, or other agents reading this, MF Jones still doesn’t get it. He’s right that immigration enforcement has always been a political football, and kicked around as the country’s mood suited. But that’s because of the political environment, and not because INS management was only knowledgeable in “bullshit” immigration processes. It might be news to you MF, but tracking a transnational criminal organization that uses smugglers to illicitly bring their contraband into the U.S. via drop-houses could involve alien smuggling and trafficking as much as it would drugs. A white collar criminal organization that defrauds the government could as likely be a corrupt immigration law firm as it would an import/export company. See, these are things that involve actual criminal investigative work. If you truly understood what that was, you wouldn’t talk so much out of your ass.

And please, enough with the nonsense about our political appointees being dumb, stupid or unqualified. They are all, including Chaz Napalitano, more qualified than the last bunch was. Chertoff and Meyers didn’t know from jack about anything other than political connections. Nobbslitano was a prosecutor and a governor. Morton was an immigration official, then a prosecutor, then a DOJ counterterrorism official. The problem is not with their qualifications and background, but with the policies the administration has advocated.

I read a recent Post article about General Petreaus, where some of his friends had asked him if he was going to resign over Obama’s policy to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan. He said his troops couldn’t resign, so why should he? He expressed his disagreement with the decision, and marched on. Do you really think when Morton or Nobbslitano took their jobs they thought they’d be handing out de facto amnesty? I know for a fact that certain personnel both at USCIS and DHS had raised even more extreme solutions than our current “prosecutorial discretion” model, and that CBP, ICE and even Nobbslitano pushed back. The fact is, the President wants a more liberal immigration policy as close to amnesty as possible. With those marching orders, what do you expect the appointees to do?

One problem with ICE, and its components, that will never be cured is the public’s relative unease with immigration enforcement. I’m sure a lot of guys from the old Customs days wish they could go back to enforcing laws that very few disagreed with, like taking down arms smugglers and drug lords. The fact is, fair or not, public opinion forces a political shift in policy, which in turn makes our leaders move in that direction pointed by an administration. You all are placing blame on the wrong bunch. The population of this nation voted by a clear majority for a President who said, during his entire campaign, that liberal immigration reform was one of his priorities.

The things that gnaw at agents and ICE officers are the same things that bother me: our dysfunctional approach to immigration enforcement where we have to defend our own actions. The other major factor of dissatisfaction has to do with employees that want nothing to do with immigration work, or customs work. However, all of the above are issues that cannot be controlled by Morton or Nobbs. It is fair game though to target Morton, Ragsdale, or Nobbs for their organizational and management decisions, but if everyone is truthful, they know that they’ve been no worse than others and better than some.

please on January 27, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Please: Ok, fair enough, if you did all that you say you did under the old Immigration system, then you are certainly an exception, and deserve kudos. But I think that is a huge “IF”. Now the question is what have you done lately? You also talk as if “enforcing Immigration” laws is all that DHS/ICE/HSI is tasked with, it’s not. Look at the Titles that DHS/ICE/HSI is authorized to investigate, not the Administrative Code, the Criminal Code. Many say that the Politicians don’t want Immigration enforcement, that may be true, but that doesn’t mean Special Agent/Criminal Investigators should not be expected to do any thing. There are plenty of other laws to enforce and investigate violators; the point is a tremendous amount of “special agents” don’t know how to accomplish that, especially many group supervisors, including one (legacy Immigration), for example, at a major SAC office, that stated publicly that he had never had a “c.i.” (informant)in his career, and didn’t know anything about handling a “c.i.”, this “g/s” had been selected by Immigration as a GS-13 supervisor (before the merger that entitled Immigration to higher GS levels)for at least 6 years! There also many legacy Immigrations supervisors that have never been to “Basic Investigator School” at FLETC, mainly because Immigration did not require them to. Immigration agents are known to have skipped a lot of the steps that are required to attain the title “Special Agent/Criminal Investigator” and “supervisor”. In essence, that is part of the reason DHS/ICE/HSI has all of these problems, no one pays their dues anymore.

DHS/ICE/HSI has degraded the working title of “Special Agent/Criminal Investigator” by choosing to allow incompetence to flourish at the agency.

So, for brevity’s sake, I will stop here, although There are many more examples of incompetence, ignorance, immaturity, non-professionalism; and you, please, are an example, so go “F’ yourself, Clown.

MF Jones on January 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I never deserved kudos for doing my job, I got paid every two weeks and that was enough. I wasn’t the exception to the rule, easily 2/3 of my INS office had similar professional experiences. I’ll acknowledge, and always have, that ultimately most, if not all, USCS agents would have this experience by reaching the 13 level. Indeed, there were some former INS agents that hid, kissed ass, and only did admin cases. Did some of them make it into management? Of course, and some are still there. But those are the true exceptions, and not the rule. Lumping in the 2/3 of us that did real work is as fair as lumping you in with these 9-5 guys doing financial work.

    BTW, I’ve met HQ agents that did 6 or 7 years in strat and financial groups without ever making a SINGLE criminal arrest. Is that the rule? No, and I wouldn’t claim that it is. But somehow these people passed a test and were promoted. That is an ICE problem that has nothing to do with legacy agencies and everything to do with why morale is low.

    I well know that this agency has plenty of authority to enforce, but this notion that we’ve abandoned enforcing customs laws is a joke. Nearly half of our casework, according to a speech given by Morton, are on narcotics investigations. In my SAC I have seen the hours and its around 55%. This agency hasn’t been taken over by immigration priorities, it is only public perception that HSI is immigration-centric.

    We haven’t reduced our enforcement of customs laws one bit. We’ve had people coming out of the academy trained in both competencies for over eight years now. How would that result in degrading the position? Most people believe that being more knowledgeable on a range of laws would make you a better agent. Think about it, there are senior agents now who have been with the agency for 8 or 9 years and only know ICE. They probably have a much better sense of how to jointly utilize authorities than you or I.

    As for your contention that part of DHS’ problems stem from training that former INS supervisors did/did not receive, that’s laughable as well. The overwhelming majority of senior leadership at HQ, at the SAC level, and the ASAC level are former Customs agents, who went through FLETC. SO if you or others think that management is the problem, I suggest you look in the mirror. Personally, I have not had a SAC or 2nd level supervisor since the merger who was NOT legacy Customs. Most of them I thought, and still believe, were competent and dedicated.

    I don’t think our issues today have a damn thing to do with legacy this or legacy that. Over half our agents came on since the merger at an academy that taught both sets of law. I don’t think it is the qualifications of our senior leadership either. It’s an administration, much like the last one, that can’t figure out what it wants from us. That has nothing to do with whether a GS in Tuscon ever went to CITP because he was a Border Patrol agent. If you think it is so much better elsewhere, why don’t you ask some of your colleagues that were former USCS or INS that jumped ship to some OIG or ATF or FBI. Ask them how great things are.

    Guess what, this isn’t a local PD where you can make all the decisions and develop the strategies. You get your strategies from above and you’d better implement them, because, wait for it….that’s how a democracy works. I don’t care who you put in charge of ICE or DHS, the policies are going to be the same. I like Debbie calling out the flaws in our policy, I just don’t think that Morton, or even Nobbslitano, are necessarily the ones to blame.

    please on January 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm

This is so tiresome. Don’t you guys ever grow weary of this INS v. Customs nonsense???

What difference does it make? You’ve got a great job with a good pay and benefits package. The rest of the country is peeking at 10% unemployement. Be a little bit grateful to serve, grateful to have a secure job, and grateful to have a good life.

The political leadership is certainly a fair target. That’s what websites like Debbie’s are for. But the attacks on each other? C’mon, guys. We’re better than that.

Right now, about 40% of the sworn employee population of ICE is neither a Customs nor INS veteran. This percentage grows each day. Give them the benefit of your knowledge, skills and experience. Don’t give them the cynicism and bias that we brought into this whacky outfit.

INS had it’s faults, sure. But Customs wasn’t the shining city on the hill that it’s often made out to be. None of that matters now. We work for ICE – worts and all. We want to work together to make it better. Let’s not cling to the same old ancient squabbles. We’re in this together…anyway you slice it.

Complain, kvetch, whine and criticize the outfit, the politics and hacks annointed to lord over us. Fair targets all. But take it easy on each other for a change. It’s about time.

I’m just sayin’…

WikiSnix on January 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Wiki – my point exactly, except much more succinctly put and far less tiresome.

    Vato – Most Federal law enforcement is theater, we do it to affect criminal behavior, not address every single case like a PD would. So your friend is right on many levels.

    please on January 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm

My GS-14 ICE buddy put it brilliantly when he said. “I make over $100,000 per year and I don’t do shit”. We are no different than professional wrestling..you need to realize it is all theater.

#1 Vato on January 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I left INS as a Senior Special Agent in 1996.I spent my last 9 years in OCDETF working mostly criminal cases.
Administrative cases on criminal aliens were nothing to sneeze at.Most criminal aliens were more concerned about being deported(particularly resident aliens)than some jail time.
We actively pursued re-entries and got some decent sentences-I got sentences of 151,80,67,and 58 months in just four of the many cases I handled.
I also worked ASU.That was nothing but criminal investigations.
I don’t see Customs and Immigration as having that much investigative overlap that it made any sense to combine them,
I had no dislike for Customs agents-we just had different jobs.
The problem always has been inept,corrupt,and politicized upper management.
BYW I started in the Border Patrol and that academy was a lot more demanding than any Criminal Investigator course at FLETC.
We were at Port Isabel back then and it was a real nose to the grindstone experience-a good one though.

Joe on January 30, 2012 at 12:38 am

Joe, I agree it didn’t make any sense to combine the agencies, enforcement functions did not overlap, but let’s be honest, Immigration agents were GS-12 Journeymen because their duties did not call for GS-13 level work, and I know that GS-13 doesn’t mean any thing now other than more money.

I think it is beyond “laughable” and more like hilarious and pathetic that a legacy Immigration agent could even be considered for a supervisor position without, among other things, ever having worked a C.I., and then, further, been a supervisor for 6 years and not one of their agents ever brought forth a C.I. for documentation. What were those agents doing all that time? What was the supervisor doing?

The blog was about job dissatisfaction, and if “40%”, as “please” claims, are neither of the legacy agencies (Customs/Immigration), and they are not satisfied with their jobs, then there is a huge morale problem looming at DHS/ICE, especially as more experienced Customs/Immigration agents leave.

“please” also claims that most of the HQ types, SAC’s and ASAC’s are legacy Customs. Did anyone ever ask how and why this came to be? The problem is now they have to deal with all of the bullshit Immigration administrative work, and the Clowns have taken over.

And, as for those “re-entries”, I know the AUSA does all the work, all the agent has to do is provide a copy of the “A file” and match that cute little “print” that all immigration processors require of the “deportable alien” just to make sure its the right person. Heavy duty criminal investigation!

MF Jones on January 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Who are these clowns? Kibble, Dinkins, Ayala? Those are the three most senior career employee position holders in ICE HSI. I’ve met each of them, and they all seem pretty sharp to me. As an added bonus, they’re each Customs born and bred.

This is point: even competent people like we have now still must deal with the hand they’re dealt. Is morale low because of them?

What BS administrative work do they have to deal with? The majority of casework at ICE is drug trafficking based. Worksite amounts to less than 10% of casework, with virtually no admin arrests today. Where is all of this administrative burden? Almost all immigration related HSI cases now are criminal, whether smuggling, fraud, worksite or JTTF. So a career narcotics agent may on occasion have to deal with an illegal alien, or an immigration fraud agent might have to help out on an IPR case involving Rolexes. So what? BFD.

Morale in this agency isn’t low because a handful of legacy INS GS’s are marginally qualified. There are plenty of fully qualified managers, with masters degrees and CITP certificates, that are awful at their jobs. Look, we have a huge amout of flexibility and authority, guns, badges and six figure paychecks. People should be happy here. But all of the onerous HQ reporting requirements, policies and mandates that make this place miserable come not from clowns inventing work, but from policy driven directives that come from WAY above the clown level.

This place would be fine with Morton, Dinkins, Kibble and co if we had a rational, unapologetic immigration enforcement policy. We get that, everything falls into place, and a narcotics agent can use his immigration authority to enhance a case rather than apologizing for using it. We don’t get that without change at the top, and even then there is no guarantee (see Reagan amnesty 1986). But please, this legacy stuff is nonsense.

Please on January 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Please, please…

You think we’ve cornered the market on bureaucratic ineptitude? Look around the Federal government. The explosive growth, uncontrolled bloat and “social” promotions cause problems everywhere in the G – not just in ICE and DHS. Couple this with the fact that the pricipal qualification to serve in a leadership position in Washington is the willingness to serve in a leadership position in Washington…and voila! You get a gigantic, dysfunctional train wreck.

The most amazing thing about the government is its ability to get ANYTHING done, in spite of itself. There are a few things it gets right. Think about our military and the amazing men and women who serve and sacrifice. Look at the highway system in this country. There’s no where you cannot drive to. And frankly, think abount putting a 45 sent sticker on an envelope and having it travel from New York to LA in a couple of days and (most likely) landing right where you wanted it to go. So things CAN work. We have to ask ourselves why DON’T things work…

It has to do with the talent that Federal service attracts, personnel systems that cater to abusers and victims, and the simple fact the all the wrong people rise to positions of prominence. Why? Because the RIGHT people are too @#$%ing smart to hang their a$$es out in the wind. Promotion brings headaches, lawsuits, union beefs, misconduct allegations, long hours and sniping from above. Why on earth, in this environment, would anyone with a lick of sense bring that on themselves.

I hate to be a cynic, but I’mn just sayin’…

WikiSnix on January 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm

WikiSnix, I agree, one of my earlier comments was that things do get done in spite of the bureaucracy.

But “please” is in a state of denial; I have given various examples of incompetence and inexperience (without mentioning any names), the small parts that make up the whole. DHS itself acknowledges the problem, but “please” just dosen’t get it. I am not making up these problems, there are a lot of agents who complain privately, and are concerned about their careers, don’t want to get on management’s radar for fear of retribution and bullying, and their is plenty of that going on at DHS/ICE/HSI. For example, there are CPA’s and law school graduates at DHS/ICE/HSI being assigned to the Admin Group checking the radio inventory, or to the public safety unit “picking up” illegal aliens for processing. And the first semester law school dropouts and high school graduates are assigned to commercial fraud and “money laundering” groups, then move on to HQ. What a waste of talent and assets that could be better utilized.

I think nothing is going to change until the culture at DHS itself is changed, or at least addressed. Promote and acknowledge merit and competence, not inexperience and incompetence (you must agree that has been the case). DHS should view its agents as the “front line” the ones who will put their ass on the line when it comes to criminal investigations and enforcement actions; not belittle and degrade, and talk down to them. In some SAC offices the clerks and secretaries even look down on agents, why? I think part of the reason is they themselves expect more from an “agent”.

Please “please” blah blahblah…STFU

MF Jones on January 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Every agency has issues of incompetence, and I would not disagree with Wiki’s opinion that the primary qualification for leadership positions in Washington is a willingness to go there. The FBI and the military deal with this by requiring rotations. I am not sure I’d want to go that route, but there’s something to be said about requiring your best leaders to serve where they have greatest impact. Just the same, I hear from my friends at ATF, IRS, and OIGs the same kinds of complaints. It’s not like this is specific to our agency.

I will just have to agree to disagree with most of you on here about the source of our problems. I think the morale problems are as Debbie pointed out, resulting from a leftward bend on our policies, and not based on mid or senior level management. The FACT is that the overwhelming majority of our senior SAC and HQ leaders are legacy Customs. Did they suddenly forget how to do their jobs post-merger? I don’t think so.

You can cite all the anecdotes you want about law school graduates picking up visa overstays from the local PD. The FACTS are that as an agency we don’t do any less Customs related work or more Immigration centric work since the merger. As for junior and mid level management, I’ll agree that Marcy Foreman forced a batch of turds on us from HQ, but for the most part I think our leadership chain is pretty solid.

Every management chain is going to have its share of a-holes. I have met more than a few that I’d like to punch in the face, but is that so different than anyplace else? In the end, I think morale and our opinion of our leaders would be a lot different if we had rational policies coming down from the WH.

Now, I will STFU.

Please on January 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm

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BroMan on February 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm

MF Jones-I know little about Customs investigations,but making a smuggling case from fragmentary evidence or a harboring case from a drug investigation(again using fragmentary evidence)are hardly “gimme” cases.
CI’s were at the heart of most of the cases I worked,so I really don’t know what you’re talking about.
I was a GS-13 and I had no problem justifying my pay grade-what I never did was work in management.
A re-entry case is what it is.The hard part is finding the individual-most of my re-entries were located on CI information,not police turnovers-I did work with Customs a few times-they were out of Boston and it seemed like they had a lot of resources from their agency,which INS agents did not.
To downplay a re-entry case because it’s simple misses the point that it’s effective in neutralizing the defendant for a considerable period of time compared to the effort needed to obtain a conviction.Needlessly complicating an investigation to justify a pay grade makes no sense to me.
I’ve been out a long time and I really don’t want to enagge in personal sniping,but I think you really have no idea what went into smuggling,harboring,counterfeiting,fraud scheme,and other types of investigations pursued by INS agents.
I will say this-it depended a great deal where one was assigned-in some districts investigations were limited by non-enforcement management people.
BTW learning another language as a requirement to keep your job is something Customs wasn’t tasked with.
During my career I probably testified in more state than Federal cases simply because I was assigned to work with state/local agencies full time for lengthy periods(years),however as it turned out,the US Attorney’s office in the area I was last assigned(for 12 years) consistently made more cases on INS violations than those of any other agency.
They almost never turned down an INS prosecution-unlike the US Attorney in an adjoining state who took few,if any.
A lot of what goes on in government,including criminal justice depends all too often on the whims of political appointees.

Joe on February 2, 2012 at 5:11 am

Joe, you were a dedicated employee, if you retired it was a loss for the agency. You say you were active and, I think, job satisfaction, and that’s what a lot of the old Customs people say too, not perfection in those agencies, that would be not realistic, but they got the job done. What is the problem now? ICE has been self rated at almost near the bottom of all agencies. What happened? With all of the power and might, and money of the federal government, why this happening now. I think it was a mistake to mix the two, like oil and water. What happened to the job satisfaction of immigration and customs when they had it when they were separate? You dont have to answer this is just food for thought.

BroMan on February 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Good observation and a good question-I guess when bureaucrats try to do something fast they screw it all up.
Why is FPS part of ICE?They have a totally different mission,no less important,but different.
Combinig inspection functions made sense and really made de jure what was already de facto anyway.
You’re right-I liked my job and was still banging in doors up until I retired.
I had to leave due to the worsening of medical problems from Agent Orange exposure in Nam.Things are a whole lot worse now,but the VA disability and free medical/drugs is a great help.
I never understood separating the Border Patrol from Investigations-even when it was INS that was a problem.
In the state where I was last assigned all federal LE personnel also were designated as state LE also so it made combined ops much easier than say,in MA.
The interesting thing about CI’s in my day was that we never had money to pay them,so we used employment authorization for them,or,if they were not illegal,for family members.It worked pretty well.
Anyway,this has been interesting to read-I still keep in touch with some agents I knew on the job and it doesn’t sound like morale is very good at all.

Joe on February 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm

8 years of hell and now they’re (INS & Customs) literally killing each other in office shoot outs. DHS in general and ICE in particular were doomed to failure. This is what happens when the government has billion dollar knee jerk reactions to imagined problems. Government expansion is destroying America. We don’t enforce immigration laws in the USA unless you commit a felony and are arrested by locals. Yet we create a “Homeland Security” Department that takes a back seat to the FBI and does less immigration enforcement than INS. Houston, we have a problem.

Bonzer Wolf on February 17, 2012 at 10:24 pm

From 2001 until 2007 Conservatives ran the White House and both houses of congress. That was their chance to step up and show America their stuff… and they did. The ill-conceived, ill-planned, ill-executed forced merger of two previously autonomous agencies to create a single, poorly led, poorly managed agency (I.C.E.) that was christened and then cast adrift with a vague mandate in 2003 is a classic example of what Conservative leadership can achieve when they hold all the cards. Good job guys! Excellent work!

Duffer on February 18, 2012 at 11:51 am

Bonzer: Well said! Merging two totally different agencies with different missions and cultures made about as much sense as combining dermatologists and neurosurgeons into a medical practice, and telling them to do each others jobs, because after all, they’re all doctors! And yes, Homeland Security has little to do with fighting terrorism, because that remains the exclusive jurisdiction of the FBI. DHS is a multi-billion dollar boondoogle that has done little to make America safer, despite being around since 2003. Those who pushed this idea and implemented it without giving it adequate thought should be ashamed of themselves for creating this fiasco.

ICEd on February 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm

The “merger” (Customs takeover of INS) was a huge mistake from the impetus. None of these politicians ever reach down to the rank and file for their opinions before they make these massive changes. The people who know the operations most intimately are never consulted, we are looked upon as minions. I hate to say it, but the first big mistake in my humble opinion was the amnesty which took place under Reagan, God love him, but it was a mistake. Then Bush does this to us. The ultimate effect it appears to me was to kill and bury INS and Immigration enforcement, Now they’re providing weapons to drug cartels to kill our officers with and so far, “they”, appear to not give a rats ass about it. I didn’t realize what a jackoff this Morton guy was until recently since I’ve been gone a long time. Now they scratch their chins wondering why morale is so low. Leonard F Chapman, former Marine Corps Commandant was the INS Commissioner when I started. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Contrast him with John Moron (sic), a self-serving lawyer and that would go a long way towards explaining “what the hell happened here?”

Harrison J. Bounel on February 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Not to say Morton IS the problem, he’s just a symptom of the problem.

Harrison J. Bounel on February 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Times at ICE are difficult. Long gone are the days of USCS focusing on pertinent and worthwhile violations and developing solid cases. The whole Emperor’s New Clothes “HSI” fiasco has left many disenfranchised. Many in the agency pursued lateral assignment to get over to ICE. In typical ‘the grass is always greener” fashion, many of those are lining up to return to their original agencies. One rumor is that a former and current sister outfit refuses to take back any prodigal sons. It is crazy to think one ever would have complained when the best part of ICE belonged to Treasury.

Legacy on March 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I am sorry that I wasted 5-years of my time in this disfunctional agency. I thought the Obama Administration would improve ICE. Instead, we have agents who have killed each other, age and sex discrimination up to to a point that senior employees are filing EEO’s every other day. I pray to leave this agency with my sanity. I can’t stand the management under Ragsdale and all his cronies. Let’s reorganize now.

Sorry I work for ICE on March 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Just a brief note to leadership on the causes of low morale?

Low workplace morale can have serious implications for our agency. Employees who experience low morale may miss work more frequently and perform below their capabilities. They can also have a detrimental effect on those around them. A number of factors can lead to poor workplace morale, and it is not always easy to pin the cause on any one single factor.

(Poor Communication)

o Poor communication often occurs when supervisors fail to keep workers “in the loop” about organizational changes that affect their jobs. Information that is spread through the grapevine before management confirms it makes employees feel as if they are the last to know and unimportant.

o When a popular manager is replaced by one who is petty, caddy or displays poor people or leadership skills, the morale of the entire department or program could suffer. A new manager who implements more of a closed-door policy for dealing with individual issues, compared with her predecessor, may also inadvertently lower morale.

(Lack of Movement)

o Employees who feel as if there is no room for advancement in their present position have felt trapped and frustrated, which has lead to bitterness. One negative attitude can infect a whole department, especially one where employees rely heavily on one another to complete assigned tasks( Key here is trust,loyalty and comrade). An employee who has been passed over for a promotion can also have a negative effect on a department if the promoted person is now the head of or assumes a leadership role in the department; who was placed in that position by her boss.

(Incompetent Leadership)

o Situations can occur when a manager is unable to handle a leadership position, either because of a lack of training or a lack of essential leadership traits, such as strong decision-making skills. Employees who work for an incompetent leader may feel as if they are on a “rudderless ship” with no discernible direction. The failure to make timely decisions can cause frustration among the employees and lead to confusion over what tasks need to be accomplished and which ones should be given priority. Just because you were a great Lawyer-does not mean you’re a great leader or manager.

Little Dan on March 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm

What fool would voice their opinions in a Town Hall Meeting? Why are the Obama people now do concerned about addressing career employee problems at ICE. The Obama folks, Morton, Ragsdale, etc., knew that the Bush Administration had created a useless agency, ICE. Yet. instead of trying to make a viable agency, they chose a weak-link like Morton, Ragsale, and removed anyone with any compentence from decision-making at ICE.

Most employees are so fed up that they just wait for retirement or to find another job. There is no real mission for ICE. Why not just close the doors and call it a mistake?

Sorry I work for ICE on April 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I am a FTE (Mission Support Specialist) at ICE and the problems that are described in this article are not limited to LEO personnel. The employee survey spans ALL FTE’s! So when you consider that there are 30,000 employees at ICE and the survey covers all of them its far more damming than just saying ERO or HSI. The agent and officer populations in ICE really only count for little more than 65% the total staff. So stew on that for a moment and the massive enormity of how bad things are becomes compounded.
Here’s something else to consider: At town halls that I have attended management invites the audience to ask questions and provide feedback. First thing that is wrong with this is that you are asking people to stand up in front of dozens and often hundreds of other employees to be exposed to criticism and possibly reprisals. So guess what happened next? SILENCE, absolutely dead silence. I once saw a manager almost beg the audience to ask questions.
This is where I really feel sorry for the middle managers at ICE. There are some good managers out there and there are people that I work with that would make great managers. But the agency doesn’t recognize them. My former boss (now departed the agency) was stuck and could not advance within the agency. He was one of the best bosses I’ve had in my career but because he was ignored and not given the opportunity to advance he left and the agency truly is poorer for it.
He also told me once that he felt that he never got the time with his boss that he needed and his job satisfaction suffered for it. It’s the same with me today. My new boss has put 3 layers of managers between me and him so that he no longer communicates with me. I have not spoken a word to him or interacted with him in 8 months. So he’s really no longer my boss. Which make me sad because he really is an amazing man who has done some amazing things in his lifetime and I really hoped to learn from him and grow as an employee through some more senior level experience and projects.
Instead my new-new boss doesn’t know how to communicate, plays favorites, and ignores my experience and time in service with the agency. But I really don’t blame him. She’s not a bad gal and I’d go out and have a beer with her anytime. It’s just that she is a lone wolf hunter. Not an alpha pack leader. I can see that she’s trying to change but really at this point in life you are who you are. There are indeed roles and places for the lone wolf hunter. These folks are very effective at jumping in and putting out fires. They are also great to send into a meeting as your pit bull to bust down road blocks. Kinda like the terminators of the organization. Every office has at least one and they do serve a good purpose (breaking up bureaucratic log jams). Yet a terminator doesn’t necessarily make a good manager or leader. But more often than not these folks get promoted into management roles because of the very (and often bloody) success they have achieved.

There really is a twisted culture (cancer) at ICE of marginalization of the employee from any meaningful work. Rather than promote employees from within or reward hard work with bigger responsibility the agency pulls fresh people off the street, burns them out, and then hits the street again for fresh bodies.
Don’t believe me? While this is by no means a scientific statistical analysis looking at the survey and correlating the data to the current USAJOBS.gov postings is surprisingly telling from a qualitative perspective.
Agency: DOS – Open Reqs: 43 – Rank in Survey 7th
Agency: DOJ – Open Reqs: 125– Rank in Survey 11th
Agency: DHS – Open Reqs: 209 – Rank in Survey 31st
So of the agencies I pulled data for the DHS is at the bottom of the survey and has the highest number of open positions. (Note: please bear in mind that the DHS postings also include TSA which has very high turnover.)
Something that the survey does not speak to is the employee turnover rate. In my division in the past 12 months I have seen at least a 25% turnover rate. Put another way that almost 1/4 of the entire staff has quit or been reassigned. In the entire time that I have been employed at ICE one of the branch directors’ slots has not been filled for more than 8 months! Just look at how many “acting” managers there are in the organization. It’s not fair to the folks who have to fill those acting roles while a permanent employee is found to fill the billet. They get burned out very quickly. Just PROMOTE QAULIFIED PEOPLE in those chains of command who know those missions and can stabilize that part of the organization quickly after a leader leaves. USE DIRECT HIRE AUTHORITY and do not get into the GSA KSA process unless required by law.
Another cause of horrific morale is that people are either leaving, coming on board (newbs), or burned out and can’t leave because there aren’t jobs out there to go to. When you have large turn over in the federal government it takes huge amounts of time and resources to staff up. That means the folks who are still on duty are left holding the extra baggage. From the LEO perspective it means keeping up on arrests, seizures, and convictions. Just because there are less people does not mean the performance metrics the agency imposes on employees change. Thus more stress on staff to deliver and perform at all levels. Combined with budget cuts that have decimated the contract support population and you have yet another poison pill in a kevorkian like death cocktail.
Lastly, I want to give a shout out to all of my 30,000 co-workers at ICE. (Managers included) Each and every one of us (LEO or not) took an oath to serve the public trust and defend the constitution. We are all public servants who I believe want what is best for our agency and the public we serve. The problems we face as an organization are not insurmountable. Each and every one of you contributes to the mission every day and I am still very proud of the service we give our country. No matter how bad things get (and they are going to get worse) always remember your integrity and the oath you took. As long as you hold on to those things nothing your manager or the agency does can bring you down. You are some of the most amazing people I have ever had the privilege to work with and I wish you well and a safe return to your families.

Remember “it’s always darkest before the dawn…”

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