Career bureaucrats at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have pushed back on the White House’s plans to appoint America First patriots to key positions within the agency.
Politico reports that a list of potential appointees produced by John McEntee, a pro-Trump nationalist who recently took over the White House Presidential Personnel Office, was rejected by ICE acting director Matthew Albence. This list was drawn up to fill four empty political positions within the agency.
Albence, a career bureaucrat, claimed the suggested appointees were unqualified to fill the roles they were recommended for. Many of them were involved in the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, which McEntee also previously worked for. Albence instead sought people with long records within the institutions of the federal government – otherwise known as the “deep state”.
“He wants to protect his bureaucratic buddies in ICE, and he doesn’t want [political appointees] telling him to do difficult things,” an administration official told Politico.
Albence’s spokesman issued the following statement in response to the report: “ICE has an incredibly complex and difficult mission, critical to the national security and public safety of this country. All individuals hired by the agency, whether into career or political positions, are hired based solely on their qualifications and ability to contribute to this mission.”
Under Albence, ICE initially announced it would cease immigration enforcement during the coronavirus pandemic, returning to its Obama-era stance. This has infuriated the President and administration immigration hawks such as Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinnelli, who have sought to continue detaining illegal aliens.
The Center for Immigration Studies, a group advocating for reduced immigration, issued a statement that was critical of Albence’s record.
“I think that the agency has been a little bit — under both Albence and [Tom] Homan — a little bit hesitant to step up enforcement in certain areas and to implement certain policies that would make them more productive,” said Jessica Vaughn, Director of Policy Studies at CIS.