A union contract signed by the Trump administration on its last full day in office could enable Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to stall President Biden’s vision for a reimagined immigration system indefinitely, reports The Hill. The agreement, signed by then-acting Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, forces the administration to receive “prior affirmative consent” from the union before changing working conditions, something that includes hours and compensation as well as policy decisions and contains other unusual aspects, including a provision that bars any legal challenges to the contract for another eight years — a move that would kick any negotiations beyond the reach of the Biden administration.
It’s also not clear that Cuccinelli even had the authority to sign the agreement. A federal court in March found his lengthy status as an acting official violated federal vacancy laws and invalidated some of his other official decisions. The agreement gives DHS leaders 30 days to disapprove the agreement, giving the Biden administration until Feb. 17 to do so. Without action, however, the agreement takes effect. Immigration and Latino groups say the contract shows the need to cement programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as well as pass a broad immigration bill through Congress. “If they don’t do it in the first 100 or so days we’re going to see deadlock on this issue and humans used as pawns and political piñatas,” Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), told The Hill.