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Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan has been nominated by President Trump to be the new official head of ICE.
ICE hasn’t had an official director since former chief Sarah Saldaña left at the end of the Obama Administration, but that doesn’t mean the ICE job should go to Homan. In his time as acting Director, Homan has shown again and again that he is a pugilistic enforcer who believes in mass deportation rather than effective results. Homan believes that every undocumented immigrant living in the US should be eligible for deportation, regardless of circumstance or equities. It’s an extremist position that puts him in the camp of Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller — and should disqualify him from becoming the official ICE Director. One thing the ICE chief needs to do is identify reasonable, pragmatic deportation priorities that help make the country safer. Homan’s not that guy, and here’s why:
Thomas Homan has said that “no [immigrant] population is off the table” when it comes to deportations, that ICE will be going from “zero to 100” when it comes to detaining immigrants who haven’t committed any crimes, and that all immigrants “should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder and you need to be worried”. Yet in the same breath, Homan continues to claim that ICE “prioritizes criminals”.
The truth is, it doesn’t seem to matter to Homan whether an immigrant is a Dreamer who has lived nearly his entire life in the US or a mother who has to take care of a disabled child or a ten year old girl who has to go to the hospital for surgery — Homan believes that ICE should be able to deport everyone, and all immigrants should live in fear. Between January 22 and September 2 of this year, ICE detained more than 28,000 immigrants without a criminal record, a threefold increase over the same period last year. That’s tens of thousands of families broken apart and communities ripped up for no reason.
It’s easy for people like Homan, Sessions, and Miller to think that immigrants should be removed en masse just because they’re undocumented. But mass deportation has a cost, and it decreases public safety. Every time ICE detains a mother or father who hasn’t done anything wrong, that’s time and resources not spent going after “bad hombres”. But Homan is doing the opposite of enacting sensible priorities. He’s instead targeting cities with immigrant-friendly policies, even though research has shown that such cities are safer because more immigrants trust the police. These cities have stood up to Homan — and now he wants to retaliate against them.
In October, ICE agents entered a home in Oregon to arrest a man they had no warrant for. (The man was later let go and the incident flagged for review.) Earlier this year, ICE participated in an effort to smear immigrants by trying to find and use stories of criminals to drum up public support for raids. In September, ICE was found to be working with Motel 6 employees in Arizona to arrest and detain immigrants who had checked in for the night. And all year, ICE has detained people at schools, churches, courthouses, hospitals, and other places that ICE is not supposed to target. Homan has not addressed these situations, and continues to insist that ICE is not targeting sensitive locations.
In October, when northern California was just beginning relief efforts after a devastating wildfire, Homan injected himself into the conversation by repeating a Breitbart lie that the fire had been started by an undocumented immigrant, helping to fan the flames of a massive distraction that kept the local sheriff away from fire relief. And in July, when the bodies of ten migrants were found in a Texas trailer, Homan saw fit to use the tragedy to attack so-called sanctuary cities (which have nothing to do with migration). It’s ridiculously unbecoming of public officials like Homan to use tragic events to lie about immigrants, demonize innocent people, and further his own agenda.
Given Homan’s viciously anti-immigrant record, it’s no surprise that one of the leading anti-immigrant hate groups is giddy about this nomination. But the US Senate shouldn’t be.