Acting Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan law said Wednesday at the Border Patrol Expo in San Antonio that the message needs to get across that illegal immigrants and sanctuary cities can’t break the law.
The keynote speaker for an expo luncheon told the audience that while he was shaking the last hand of the last guest of the evening at his retirement party, he was informed he had an emergency phone call from then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who told him the president of the United States was asking him to serve his country by staying with the agency.
It wasn’t good timing, he admitted. “So after a weekend of fighting with my wife, she asked me what am I going to do and I said, if I’m nothing I’m a patriot. The president of the United States has asked me to serve, how do you say no? The rest is history.”
Homan said ICE is committed to dismantling transnational criminal organizations and protecting Americans from cross-border criminal activity. “It has been priority one from day one,” he said.
On President Trump’s executive orders, the ICE chief noted, “He could have saved himself a lot of writing by saying in one sentence, you will now enforce the laws enacted by Congress.”
Homan said that if you look at his agency’s numbers for 2017, ICE “executed nearly perfectly despite what media wants to say.” Since January of last year, ICE arrested 100,000 known or suspected illegal aliens, an increase of 42 percent over the previous year, while detainer issuance went up by 80 percent under this administration. “Without a doubt, the increases are due to our criminal alien program,” he added.
ICE has also increased its focus on trade fraud and intellectual property crime in order to protect businesses, the director continued.
“What does ICE need from you all to be successful?” Homan asked the contractors, responding by explaining they needed assistance with overall information technology and system modernization. “Our systems are old; we need help.”
The director warned he’s not going to hold back any longer on the issue of immigration, declaring, “If you violate the laws of this country, if you enter illegally, which is a crime, it’s not going to be OK anymore.”
He also voiced opposition to a clean bill to give legal status to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries, and said he’s “100 percent” behind the planned border wall.
Sanctuary cities, Homan argued, “don’t protect immigrant communities.”
“Immigrants are at greater risk of being arrested by us,” he said. “They’re [sanctuary cities] putting politics over public safety.”
Additionally, he expressed frustration over accusations that ICE has misused resources. “There’s so many smoke and mirrors,” he said.
Homan spoke frankly about the causation he’s seen recurring over and over again throughout his career and the need to deal with these underlying reasons for illegal immigration, or “we’re never going to fix it.”
“Do you really want to fix immigration or not?” he asked.
“We need the willpower of Congress to make tough decisions,” Homan added, suggesting the bar be raised on sanctuary cities, for one.