Politicians Should Stop Risking the Lives of ICE

Politicians Should Stop Playing Politics with PPE Gear, Risking the Lives of ICE Agents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          March 27, 2020 


WASHINGTON, DC – Larry Cosme, National President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), today issued the following statement in response to some Members of Congress's move to block Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other agencies’ request for additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 response.

"Politicians playing politics with federal law enforcement PPE requests is outrageous," said FLEOA President Cosme. "These politicians would essentially rather have federal law enforcement officers from ICE and other agencies exposed to COVID-19 and risk death rather than provide PPE gear.”

"Every law enforcement officer and federal agency is on the front lines right now working to respond to this public health crisis. Many are conducting their work while lacking PPE due to a lack of adequate funding for it in the past, as no one ever realized how much PPE would be necessary for this level of a pandemic," said Cosme.

"If the Immigration and Customs Enforcement requested 45 thousand N-95 medical masks, Congress should trust that this is needed for the response operations due to the myriad of people that ICE comes in contact with. Failing to provide the necessary equipment places the agents, their families, and those they are engaging with at risk of exposure," Cosme explained. "It is ludicrous for Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon to say in one breath that ‘This is not the time to use masks for deportations’ and in the next, say ‘People are dying and our front line health care workers are at great risk, as are our public safety officials.’ These statements neglect the reality that members of the federal law enforcement community, such as ICE agents, are the exact public safety officials who are on the front line and at great risk.” 

"It is also ridiculous that Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer piled on by saying, ‘I think it’s important that we don’t set up a parallel system that competes with critical needs of our first responders in order to prop up some of the activities of ICE, which may be inappropriate.’ This statement indicates that Congressman Blumenauer does not recognize federal law enforcement officers, such as ICE agents, as first responders. These statements send the message that Representatives Blumenauer and Merkley would rather ICE agents and their families contract COVID-19 than have PPE," said Cosme.

Cosme continued, "While these two might gain pathetic political points in Oregon for refusing ICE protective masks and risking these officer’s lives, they fail to realize, or do not care, that they are also endangering the rest of the country and the families of those federal law enforcement officers. If these Representatives have a problem with ICE operations, they can debate the law they create during a regular Congressional session. They should not deny these agents protective resources during a global crisis.”

"It is clear Representatives Blumenauer and Merkley and other Members of Congress have chosen to play politics with PPE funding during this time. It is a despicable action and life-threatening as this pandemic continues. If these Representatives want to deny PPE to anyone, perhaps they should start with themselves and the other members of Congress that chose politics over public safety at this critical time in our nation." Cosme concluded, "Our message to these Members and the rest of Congress is simple: Do not let our members and their families die from your dangerous and pathetic political agenda. Fully support and fund the needs of all federal law enforcement agencies. Let those agencies and federal law enforcement officers do what they do best, protect America. Rather what you are doing, endangering their lives.”


FLEOA is the nation’s largest non-partisan, not-for-profit professional association representing more than 28,000 federal law enforcement officers and agents across 65 federal agencies.