SAN ANTONIO — Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan blasted Congress on Wednesday for its decades-long failure to fix the root causes of illegal immigration, and warned against giving Democrats an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program without real border security measures.
"If we get a clean DACA bill, shame on all of us. You can’t address DACA and reward people that brought children here illegally and not address underlying reasons of DACA," Homan told around 200 ICE officers, Border Patrol agents, and Department of Homeland Security officials here at the Border Security Expo on Wednesday.
He said the time for "kicking this can down the road" has passed.
"Sanctuary cities, end them. Detainers, legislate them. TVPRA, change it," he said of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. "Asylum, raise the bar. We have the knowledge to fix it, but you know what we need is the willpower of Congress ... I've been doing this 34 years, we’re talking about the same thing every year."
In a passionate 40-minute speech, a red-faced Homan told officers he will never stop defending his 20,000 employees from progressive politicians and reporters who have criticized the agency's arresting illegal immigrants who have established themselves in the United States.
"People ask me all the time, 'So why’d you arrest the guy who’s been here 15 years and has two kids?' Because he had his due process, he got his order from the judge to leave this country. He’s gotta leave," Homan explained. "The billions of dollars we spend on law enforcement means nothing because you chose to have a U.S. citizen child while you knew you were in the country illegally. If that’s the message that you want to continue to send ... you are never going to fix the southwest border."
Last week, U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest of Manhattan compared the Trump administration's deportation practices to how Nazi Germany targeted Jewish people and other groups. But Homan rejected that.
"I’m sick and tired of the vilification of the men and women of ICE and the Border Patrol," Homan said to a surprised audience.
"This country spends billions of dollars a year on border security, immigration court, detention, immigration judges, attorneys, billions of dollars. At the end of that process, if you get a final order issued by an immigration judge after getting due process at taxpayer expense, if that final order doesn’t mean anything, there’s absolutely no integrity in the entire system," he declared.
Homan said politicians have dirt on their hands for the unsafe immigrant communities they have created through sanctuary cities, the deaths of immigration officers and agents, rising agency costs, and proliferation of smugglers and cartels.
Rather than protecting communities, some politicians have perpetuated an illusion of "smoke and mirrors" to distract the public from the negative effects those policies are having on public safety.
"They [sanctuary cities] bankroll the very criminal organizations that have killed Border Patrol agents and killed special agents in ICE," said Homan.
"It irritates me that a politician who has never held a badge and a gun, who doesn’t understand what we do every day, makes a decision of putting their own political careers ahead of the health and safety of a law enforcement officer. A shame!" Homan said in a part of his speech that he warned was not part of his prepared remarks.
Homan, who was nominated in November to take over the interior immigration enforcement agency, said sanctuary policies to shelter illegal immigrants from federal immigration officers is forcing the government to waste taxpayer money and needlessly risk law enforcement lives.
ICE is forced to send in a team of five to six officers to arrest a wanted criminal illegal immigrant at his or her home or workplace because jails will not allow federal officers to safely apprehend someone while in custody.
In doing so, ICE officers are required to verify the immigration status of those it encounters during a raid, and often picks up people it would not have encountered if officers had been able to apprehend that person while in law enforcement custody.
Although Homan did not in any way defend illegal immigration, he said sanctuary cities do unfairly hurt those communities. Half of criminal illegal immigrants will reoffend the first year and 75 percent will reoffend within five years, he said.
"They’re not protecting immigrant communities like they say they are 'cause these people are going to reoffend and commit crimes in the very communities in which they live," Homan explained. "Most illegal aliens, beyond committing the crime of entering the country illegally, abide by the law. They don’t want child predators walking around their neighborhoods. They don't want people convicted of DUI 10 times walking around the neighborhood."
"If they don’t think that these smuggling organizations, these criminal organizations aren’t using sanctuary cities as a selling point, they’re wrong," Homan added. "Look, $5,000. I'll get you to San Francisco. You won’t even get arrested 'cause they’ll hide you through ICE."