Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are not allowed to enforce the law against giving welfare to illegal immigrants, union head Chris Crane said after the Department of Homeland Security admitted it didn’t pursue any such charges last year.

“In my career, I have never seen or heard of the charge being applied in any case, to anyone,” Crane, president of the ICE national union, told reporters on a conference call today. “We are not permitted to enforce that statute, period.”

Crane said that when he asked other colleagues if they have seen the law enforced, they “laughed out loud” at the idea.

“That was one of those laws that we were told, ‘you will never get to enforce this law out in the field,’” Crane said as he recalled his academy training.

He blamed the Obama administration’s fear of political embarrassment for the non-enforcement of that law. “I think that they don’t want it to be seen in the media,” Crane suggested, “that we’re removing someone who is a public charge.”