Oversight

CRS fact-checks Trump claim of ICE endorsement

Trump hat

The Congressional Research Service released a legal sidebar clarifying that, despite his claims on the stump and in debates, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump did receive the endorsement of the federal government agency charged with protecting the U.S. border.

On multiple occasions, Trump has claimed that he was endorsed for president by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security component charged with securing America's borders. ICE is the second-largest criminal investigative agency after the FBI.

The National ICE Council, the union representing front-line ICE agents, is supporting Trump, the first-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate in the union's history.

CRS couches its fact-check of Trump's campaign claim in a larger discussion of the rights and obligations of federal employees when it comes to political activity under the Hatch Act.

Given ICE's mission, an endorsement of Trump would suggest the agency officially agrees with the candidate's public remarks regarding immigration. However, federal employees are prohibited from influencing political elections on behalf of their agencies under the Hatch Act of 1939.

The act forbids public, agency-sponsored endorsements or oppositions, as well as employees' engagement in partisan activity in the workplace, including displaying campaign paraphernalia before Election Day.

However unions are free to endorse.

 "The Hatch Act does not restrict the ability of employee organizations to engage in political activity" if they do not violate the act's other provisions, CRS states. "For example, fundraising activity (otherwise restricted for employees generally) is permitted in the context of federal labor organizations."

According to CRS, the provision states that "employees who are members of a union that has a political action committee (PAC) may solicit, accept, or receive contributions from other members of that union if the donor is not a subordinate and the contribution is made to the union's PAC," as long as the activity does not take place while the employees are at work.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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