President Trump’s choice to head Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is being praised for coming up through the ranks, a non-political career cop who feels the president has taken off Obama-era “handcuffs” to let agents get back to doing their job of enforcing immigration laws.

Thomas D. Homan, currently acting ICE director, would bring to the agency a rare top dog who has done virtually every job in the immigration enforcement business if he wins Senate confirmation.

“I’m not the smartest guy to ever sit in this chair, I’m a cop, but I don’t think anybody who sat in this chair knows more about immigration enforcement than I do,” he recently told Secrets.

“I’ve done it for 34 years, I’ve been in the border patrol, I was a special agent for 20 years investigating these groups, I ended my career in the detention and removal aspect,” he said.

In fact, Homan had retired at the beginning of the year and even held his retirement party when he received a plea to stay on as acting director, a decision made because he had presented the new administration with the best blueprint for fulfilling Trump’s pledge to attack illegal immigration.

Critics and others gunning for the job have hit him as an “Obama holdover,” but his supporters say that charge is an insult to his years in immigration enforcement.

“Tom has devoted 33 years to law enforcement and more specifically to immigration issues. His deep experience and outstanding record while rising through the ranks will provide him with the necessary direction, insight and vision to run the agency,” said former Bush era former ICE assistant secretary Julie Myers Wood.

“I worked for six different presidents. I don’t get to pick the president I work for. I was a career law enforcement officer. My job is to execute the mission within the framework provided me. That is my job. I did it for Ronald Reagan, I did it for George Bush, I did it for George W. Bush, I did it for Bill Clinton, I did it for every president,” said Homan in the recent interview.

“When people say I’m an Obama holdover, I say, well, actually I worked for six presidents, I like to consider myself a Ronald Reagan holdover,” the plain spoken Homan said, adding, “Now, did I agree with the policies of the Obama administration? No. I certainly had many, many records where I pushed back on the administration, two emails and two white papers, I always asked to do more.”

He has been criticized by National ICE Council President Chris Crane, but others in the union representing ICE members have praised Homan and new policies that have resulted in a spike of arrests of illegals, a crackdown on MS-13, and new relationships with local authorities.

Homan explained the change from Obama to Trump this way, "This president has taken the handcuffs off law enforcement officers that are in charge of enforcing immigration law." he added, "This president has been real simple. He said, ‘All right, here are the immigration laws and your law enforcement officers are to enforce those laws.”

The change has been noticed on Capitol Hill. “Tom has steered ICE back to its core mission of enforcing our immigration laws and keeping our communities safe,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte.

“Those who cast Homan in the light of an Obama holdover don't grasp that his career experience has spanned many other administrations as well. While they may not have cared for many — perhaps most -- of the policies enacted during the Obama administration that were designed to obstruct immigration enforcement, it would be egregiously unfair to lay them at Homan's doorstep; those policies emanated from the White House,” added Dan Cadman, a retired ICE agent and fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies.

“This may be rank-and-file agents' one and only opportunity to serve under a fellow officer who knows intimately and personally what it's like to work the streets. They should embrace the chance,” he added.

The numbers of ICE’s mission, which is seizing illegals inside the U.S., show the change under Trump and Homan:

  • 665 MS-13 arrests through September 5, 2017.
  • Arrests of illegals up 43 percent overall.
  • 70 of arrests were convicted criminals on the lam.
  • Increased removals of aliens arrested by ICE by 30 percent.
  • As of September 9, 2017, ICE had removed 211,068 in FY 2017.

In addition to his experience, Homan is getting kudos for his no-nonsense, straight-talking and everyday style, right down to his beer of choice: Pabst Blue Ribbon.

“I have great respect for Tom and believe he is the ideal candidate to serve as the ICE director. He is a plainspoken, career law enforcement officer who will faithfully enforce the nation’s immigration laws. He has proven to be a true leader during his time as the acting director of ICE and I urge the Senate to quickly confirm him,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul.

“He’s one of us,” former ICE agent John Sherrill told Secrets. “I can’t think of a better person for the job,” he added.

And a current senior ICE official told us, “Homan is a deeply dedicated, uniquely well qualified, highly engaged, outstanding leader, and hands down the best choice for director for this agency, its employees and their interests.”

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