Ron Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is caught between a rock and a hard place.
The United States government is currently in a partial government shutdown due to a dispute over an appropriations bill between Democrats and the White House. President Donald Trump wants five billion dollars to fund the wall and Democrats have only offered up $1.3 billion.
Because the two sides didn’t come to an agreement, the government entered a partial shutdown, meaning that departments like Homeland Security and ICE are not funded and no paychecks are going out.
However, the work at the border is essential for keeping America safe, so border patrol and ICE agents are continuing their work without pay. As IJR recently reported, that work included a New Year’s Eve showdown with a “violent mob of migrants.”
As the shutdown nears its two-week mark, Vitiello could not be more frustrated with the political process. During an interview with Fox News’ Brett Baier, Vitello explained that he wants to see a wall, but he also knows his employees are struggling without pay.
“[The partial shutdown] is an issue because you never know what will happen as it relates to the politics of it, right. Any time there’s a lapse in appropriation, those of us that are in law enforcement roles are required to come to work, even though there is no money available for people to be paid. Depending on how long it goes, that’s a disruption to people’s lives and livelihoods. Not many of us in America […] can afford to miss a few paychecks in a row.”
While Vitiello worries about his employees, he also worries about their safety while on the job. He told Baier that a wall is a key feature in keeping law enforcement and American citizens safe. He explained his frustration with those who have said that border walls don’t work.
“I can tell you that through 33 years of my experience, half of which was on the line, those agents need an enduring capability to slow people down as they come across that border. It provides an anchor for them to add technology, access roads and patrol response to protect that border. You always have a safer border where you have that barrier.”
Vitiello continued, “It makes no sense to me that this is getting bottled up in the politics. Walls work.”
It isn’t clear when the partial shutdown will end. The newly elected members of the House and Senate are being sworn in on Thursday and Trump will have to work with the Democratic-controlled House to come to a solution.