ICE And CBP Workers Are Turning To This Immigration Protest Group For Help Leaving Their Agencies

For months, protesters have been calling on workers with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to quit their jobs—but now that they have actually launched a service to help them do that, federal immigration workers appear to be listening.

Earlier this week, Newsweek reported that immigration advocacy group Never Again Action Atlanta has launched a free and anonymous career support service to help ICE workers looking to leave the embattled agency.

The Never Again Action group, which was organized by Jewish community members in the U.S. determined to "never let anything like the Holocaust happen again," launched the job support site ahead of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, calling for a "mass exodus and atonement" for ICE workers.

While that "mass exodus" did not come, Never Again Action Atlanta organizer Emily Baselt told Newsweek on Thursday that she was still "floored by the response" to the initiative, with at least five ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency workers coming forward to ask for help quitting their jobs.

Initially, organizers thought that requests for support would be limited to Atlanta, but they were surprised to find that the five requests they received came from outside the Georgia city, with ICE and CBP officers approaching the organization from cities across the country.

One of the workers who approached the organization, Baselt said, was a longtime Border Patrol agent seeking to part ways with the agency, while another worked in an ICE administrative role.

Because the service guarantees workers' anonymity, Baselt could not share details of the workers who have come forward. However, she said both "seem like they really want to get out."

In addition to ICE and CBP workers coming forward, the Never Again Action organizer said her organization has also been flooded with applications from people seeking to participate in the initiative.

"We've had management consultants and people who write resumes for a living reach out and say, 'Hey, if I can help now let me know,'" Baselt said. "We've been a little floored by the response."

ICE has been less pleased, however, by the initiative, with ICE Acting Press Secretary Bryan Cox previously telling Newsweek that any attempt at "demonizing career law enforcement officials" was "disgraceful."

"The men and women of ICE are public servants who faithfully execute federal law as passed by Congress," Cox said.

"ICE holds its personnel to the highest standards of professional and ethical behavior, and ICE employees will continue to carry out their duties professionally regardless of irresponsible rhetoric that needlessly spreads fear and misinformation that does a disservice to the communities these groups claim to represent," said the ICE spokesperson.

Responding to Cox's statement, the Never Again Action Atlanta group defended its initiative, asserting in a statement published online that what really "demonizes law enforcement officials is a system that forces them to sacrifice their humanity and become actors in atrocities against their neighbors."

"Our strategy of asking law enforcement officials to listen to their consciences is such a threat to ICE that the agency felt the need to publicly, and angrily, respond," the group said.

"Mr. Cox accuses us of a disservice to our community. We act from our most deeply held Jewish values, as affirmed by the Torah, tradition, and our collective memory," Never Again Action Atlanta continued. "The commitment to the dignity of human life is more important than any man-made law, and protecting the dignity of the immigrant is at the center of our religious life and history as a people."

Responding to Cox's "claims the men and women of ICE are simply executing federal law," the organization said: "History tells us that 'I was just following orders' is neither an acceptable defence nor a good excuse."

"The people who work for ICE should never have been asked to violate their consciences in the first place," Never Again Action Atlanta said. "We hope they hear our message that we are here to help get them out. And we hope Mr. Cox understands that our offer of help to find a new and better job applies to him, as well."

Newsweek has contacted Cox for comment on Never Again Action Atlanta's response to his statement.

ICE agent
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detain an immigrant on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. A number of ICE agents have responded to a call from an immigration advocacy group offering free and anonymous career support services for workers looking to leave the agency. John Moore/Getty