When President Obama announced on June 15 that he was temporarily halting deportations of illegal immigrants under the age of 31 who came to the U.S. as children, labor unions backed him up. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praised Obama at a press conference, with a group of immigrant students standing beside him. The labor movement has made it a priority to liberalize immigration laws and recruit immigrants, who often undercut union workers by taking low-wage, non-union jobs.
Yet the leader of one AFL-CIO affiliated union has broken with labor to challenge Obama's directive. Chris Crane is president of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, the 7,000-member union that represents the U.S. Homeland Security agents whose job is to find and deport illegal aliens. Along with two of the union's vice presidents and seven ICE agents, Crane filed a federal suit in August against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton, claiming Obama's "deferred action" order is illegal and makes it hard for agents to do their job. Weeks later, he finds himself in an unusual place for a union man: criticized by the left and befriended by the right.