This week on Fox News, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan took a page out of Donald Trump’s “lock them up” playbook by suggesting that we arrest and jail democratically elected officials of cities and states that are friendly to immigrants.
“We’ve got to take them to court and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes,” Homan said. He added that “California better hold on tight,” referencing the recently-implemented California Values Act, which limits local law enforcement cooperation with ICE officials.
Homan has blustered about cities with immigrant-friendly policies before, and other officials in the Trump Administration — most notably Jeff Sessions — have tried implementing draconian new rules to restrict these cities. But Homan’s threat marks a new low, mostly because it’s pretty f-ing fascist.
As Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF, said in a blistering statement in response to Homan:
No matter how much the federal government may not like that, unless they’re to seek a repeal of the 10th Amendment, Homan should shut up and get out of town because he has no legitimacy in the position he currently occupies, having engaged in threats that are more akin to a totalitarian thug than to our government.
And as Cesar Cuatémoc García Hernández, a law professor at the University of Denver, said to the Huffington Post:
Once you start threatening elected officials with jail because of the positions they take as public officials, you’re engaging in fear-mongering. You’re trying to scare them away from taking public positions they feel they ought to take. … It’s beyond the pale for a high-ranking official of the executive branch of the U.S. government to believe it’s appropriate to prosecute a political opponent.
Homan is a lot like his top boss, Donald Trump: full of strongman bravado and swagger, but short on the facts:
1) Imprisoning elected representatives based on one official’s interpretation of whether or not they’re implementing the law is definitely unconstitutional, and may violate the First Amendment.
2) The Supreme Court has said on multiple occasions that the federal government cannot force state and local governments to use their own resources to enact federal policy.
3) Despite Homan’s statements, it’s been pro-immigration advocates that have been taking the Trump Administration to court over local policies on immigrants — and ruling for ruling kicking their butt. That’s because the Trump Administration, via Jeff Sessions, hasn’t been clear about what they want regarding local immigration policies. And what the Trump Administration seems to want — for states and cities to turn all undocumented immigrants over to ICE, regardless of whether they’ve done anything other than be in the US without papers — is definitely unconstitutional. You can read more about that here.
In an interesting new profile on Homan, Jonathan Blitzer at the New Yorker suggests that Homan (who has worked at ICE for many years) was once a fairly reasonable guy who started talking tough once Trump took office in order to consolidate support among ICE. His strategy might be working: Trump recently nominated Homan to become the official chief of ICE, and the Center for Immigration Studies endorsed him and called him “the right person at the right time.” It’s too bad that they’re a hate group.
View more reactions from Twitter on Homan’s fascist anti-immigrant comments:
Translated: The Acting @ICEgov Director Thomas Homan just called for the arrest & prosecution of local officials who follow the US Constitution by refusing to incarcerate people without probable cause. He is #unfit to serve. https://t.co/jJguyLVN4K
— David Leopold (@DavidLeopold) January 3, 2018
So Trump appointee wants to arrest state and local elected officials who won’t violate the constitution. That seems fascist https://t.co/j2Bx7Gt2Dm
— Joe Sudbay (@JoeSudbay) January 3, 2018
This is not Putin’s Russia. Threats to jail political opponents are not how we govern. I support Mayor Steve Adler’s firm opposition to this act of authoritarianism. If this is an attempt to intimidate, it failed. It only strengthens our resolve. https://t.co/ZRp5G2DQg8
— Lloyd Doggett (@RepLloydDoggett) January 4, 2018
Huh? Someone needs to explain to the Acting ICE Director that you can’t jail people for opposing the President, esp re lawful policies upheld by courts. Frightening. https://t.co/7XARWr3yGG
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) January 3, 2018