Anti-borders activists are now running U.S. border security


May 1, 2024

By Matt O’Brien and Tom Homan

Michelle Brané is an anti-borders extremist. Her entire career has been dedicated to undermining America’s immigration laws and interfering with efforts to secure America’s borders. She has characterized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as “abusive” and has been a vocal advocate for defunding the agency. The bulk of her employment history consists of jobs with organizations that oppose any reasonable immigration enforcement.

If you think Brané sounds like an incredibly poor choice to make decisions about who ICE should and should not detain, you would be correct. Nevertheless, the White House has chosen her to be the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration detention ombudsman.

In her new job, Brané will “assist individuals with complaints about the potential violation of immigration detention standards or other misconduct by DHS (or contract) personnel and provides oversight of immigration detention facilities.” Given her publicly and frequently expressed bias against any type of immigration enforcement, how often do you think she’s going to find in favor of ICE?

This recent hire continues the Biden administration’s series of controversial job picks. For instance, Tucson, Arizona, police chief Chris Magnus was selected to serve as the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, despite (more likely because of ) his advocacy of sanctuary city policies. Magnus instructed his department not to cooperate with ICE or the Border Patrol. He eventually proved so incompetent at his job that even the White House had to acknowledge his shortcomings and accept his resignation.

The DHS tapped Kerry Doyle, a pro-illegal alien, anti-ICE activist with no immigration enforcement experience, as ICE’s chief attorney. Doyle is a vocal critic of ICE’s successful 287(g) program that enlisted local law enforcement agencies’ assistance in apprehending criminal aliens. She has also been an outspoken supporter of foolish and dangerous sanctuary city policies.

Ed Gonzalez, the sheriff of Harris County, Texas, was nominated to run ICE in 2021. A vocal opponent of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, he ended his department’s cooperative agreements with ICE and criticized ICE enforcement actions as unfair to alien lawbreakers. Gonzalez eventually withdrew his name from consideration after he was accused of domestic violence.

It’s not unusual for individuals with both prosecution and defense experience to be nominated for positions as judges or criminal justice agency heads. In the past, however, those nominees have typically been people who, along with having familiarity with both sides of an issue, have expressed a strong belief in the American system of justice. They have not been ideological extremists who believe that certain groups of people are entitled to break the law. But that is exactly what we’re getting now. The people in charge of immigration enforcement within the DHS are ideological extremists whose primary concern is the well-being of alien lawbreakers, not the American people they are supposed to protect.

The people in charge of immigration enforcement with the DHS are ideological extremists whose primary concern is the well-being of alien lawbreakers, not the American people they are supposed to protect.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas regularly appears before Congress and, with a straight face, claims he is doing everything possible to secure America’s border and discourage illegal immigration. But even if Mayorkas were serious about immigration enforcement — he is not remotely interested in enforcing the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act or securing the border — how would he even do that if the agencies that report to him are being run by people who are stridently opposed to secure borders? This administration’s hiring practices, like its policy choices, are nothing less than a deliberate attempt to undermine the DHS from within.

In fact, the very office that Brané is heading up is a classic inside-the-beltway boondoggle. Congress established the Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman in 2019. The office did not exist before because, like everyone else detained in the United States, incarcerated aliens could seek legal review of their detention, both before the U.S. Immigration Court and the federal courts.

If that somehow wasn’t enough, immigration detention is also overseen by the DHS Office of the Inspector General, the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (aka “internal affairs”), and the ICE Custody Management Division.

Guests in an $800-per-night luxury hotel have fewer avenues of recourse when they are dissatisfied with the service they receive. So it’s unclear why foreign nationals who have either worn out their welcome in the United States or were never welcome in the first place, should have so many taxpayer-funded officials ensuring that federal incarceration is to their liking.

ICE’s job is tough enough under the best of circumstances. There is no reason for Congress to further complicate it by creating unnecessary watchdog agencies like OIDO. That’s bad enough. But appointing an ICE-hating extremist like Michelle Brané to oversee such an agency is an unforgivable slap in the face to the dedicated, patriotic, and hardworking men and women of ICE. And it serves only to further politicize a basic public safety and national security function that should receive unqualified bipartisan support.

Matt O’Brien is the Director of Investigations at the Immigration Reform Law Institute and the co-host of IRLI’s podcast “No Border, No Country.” Immediately prior to working for IRLI he served as an immigration judge. He has nearly 30 years of experience in immigration law and policy, having held numerous positions within the Department of Homeland Security.

Tom Homan is a senior fellow at the Immigration Reform Law Institute and the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Also published at The Blaze, May 1, 2024.

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.