The acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday forcefully pushed back against liberal critics of the administration's increase in deportations, stating flatly that entering the United States illegally "is a crime, a federal crime."

Thomas D. Homan also blamed illegals who come to the United States and then have a child for breaking up their own family. "It isn't the fault of law enforcement that people get separated. It's the fault of the perpetrator," he told a House Appropriations subcommittee. "If someone enters this country illegally and knows he's in the country illegally and is found to be in the country illegally and is ordered removed from the country and chooses to have a child in this country that's a U.S. citizen by virtue of birth, he put himself in that position, so ICE is not separating that family."

Homan said that ICE agents have been subjected to unfair and biased attacks and protests for enforcing federal deportation laws.

He also said that unlike other police agencies, ICE officers are treated like second class officers.

"Unlike other agencies, we do this despite a constant deluge of biased attacks against ICE personnel by those who disagree with the laws we enforce," said President Trump's immigration enforcement boss.

"While I recognize that people have the right to protest laws they don't agree with I want to emphasize to the public and to the media and to this committee that ice officers don't write the laws. They enforce the laws," he said.

And, he added, while other cops are quick to get a quick thank you, he said, "Too often that respect does not seem to extend to the honorable men and women of ICE. Unfortunately, the men and women of this law enforcement agency are vilified for simply doing their jobs."

ICE has been criticized for allegedly making arrests at "sensitive locations" like schools and churches, but Homan said that is false. He said ICE officers favor arresting fugitives in courthouses.

Homan was blunt in stating that it is illegal to enter the country by skirting the legal process to become a citizen.

"We are all blessed to live in the greatest country on earth and I can't blame anybody who wants to live here," he said, adding, "But we are also a country built on the foundation of the rule of law. Those who choose to enter this country illegally which is a crime, a federal crime, or to overstay their visa have knowingly chosen to break the law. Meanwhile, millions of people who have become permanent members of our society through our generous legal channels, they have shown their respect for the rule of law and for the American people."

And, he explained, after illegals go through the long process to fight deportation, at a high cost to taxpayers, it is up to ICE to enforce a federal judge's removal order if one comes.

"If a federal judge's decision is not enforced then there's absolutely no integrity in this entire system. If you love this country you must respect its laws or respect those that keep you safe. ICE officers do not do what they do because they hate what's standing in front of them. They do what they do because they love what is behind them," he said.

Homan noted that he had written his testimony, delivered with emotion, on his own. ICE subsequently released a copy of it, which can be seen here.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com