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Immigration 101: Who is Tom Homan?

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Written by Gladis Garcia and Javier Jimenez
Originally published March 30, 2018; last updated March 22, 2024

Tom Homan was the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal immigration agency responsible for arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants, from 2017 to 2018. Since leaving the Trump Administration, Homan has associated with hate groups and has been a vocal messenger of white nationalist conspiracy theories. Homan recently told the New York Times he would agree[] to come back” in a second Trump term and “run the largest deportation operation this country’s ever seen.”    

Tom Homan has been a career immigration official, former NYPD officer, former US Border Patrol agent, and 33-year law enforcement veteran who has served under six Presidents. Under the Obama Administration, Homan was actually seen as a moderate — “thoughtful and nuanced,” as one former Obama Administration official said — before reportedly moving to the right during the Trump era.

Under Trump, Tom Homan was notorious for wanting to prosecute elected officials and directed the department to mass-deport immigrants regardless of priorities. “You should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried,” Homan warned undocumented families in 2017. During a speech the following year, he bragged that he was “enjoying” then-President Trump’s deportation agenda.

Thomas Homan deports people. And he’s really good at it,” stated the Washington Post in April 2016.

Homan played a key role in turbo-charging Donald Trump’s mass-deportation machine and desires to go much further in a second Trump administration. 


In late 2023, Tom Homan went on Fox news to discuss historic levels of deportation under a possible Trump second term. He stated, “No one’s off the table [for deportation]. If you’re in the country illegally in violation of immigration law, you are a target.” He continued by saying, “I’m not fooling myself into thinking we can remove twenty million people. But, you know, we’re going to give it one hell of a shot and remove as many as we can.


Since at least 2018, Tom Homan has been a readily-available anti-immigrant Fox News contributor, where he has profusely spread the dangerous and violence-inducing white nationalist narrative of a migrant “invasion” at the border. Homan blamed Biden for a rise in border apprehensions months before the 2020 election even took place, and continued to talk about an “invasion” as an “intentional” move by the Biden Administration.

Homan has proclaimed on Fox News that the Biden Administration “intentionally unsecured the most secure border” because “they truly believe in their hearts that these are future Democratic voters, they don’t even have to vote. All they have to do is be counted in the next census…[which] will lead to perpetual power in Congress.” This idea that more immigrants will lead to a change in US votership is an allusion to the Great Replacement conspiracy theory. 

Here are other instances when Homan spoke of immigrants in terms of replacement theory:

  • In August of 2022, Homan responded to the record number of migrants crossing by exclaiming, “I mean this is an invasion. We’re at two million, two million illegal entries already this year… according to Article I [of the US Constitution], this is an invasion.”
  • When President Biden connected the Ukraine refugee crisis and the refugees seeking asylum in the southern border, Homan described the latter as an “invasion,” stating, “with President Trump we stopped this invasion. The invasion at the southern border was invited by President Biden.”
  • Homan pushed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to officially declare an “invasion” in the state of Texas, stating, “There’s a press conference out of Texas this afternoon with several sheriffs and several judges. And I’ve been pushing the idea, along with several others, that we need to look at the invasion clause of the Constitution.” 
  • On The Charlie Kirk Show, Homan stated, “This isn’t mismanagement, this isn’t incompetence, this is by design…he [Biden] also overturned the Trump’s census rule, so millions of people now are in the next census in sanctuary cities. What does that equal, more seats in the House for Democrats equals perpetual power.”
  • At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2022, Homan participated in a panel titled “The Invasion” with former White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.


Once out of office, Homan quickly built his connections to hate groups linked to white supremacy: 

  • As early as 2018, he spoke at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), an anti-immigrant hate group founded by white nationalist John Tanton, to defend the Trump administration’s child separation policy (more about that below).
  • In 2019, Homan was a keynote speaker at a conference hosted by ACT for America, an anti-Muslim hate group famous for organizing the “March Against Sharia” in 2017. One of these marches was canceled after reporting revealed it was organized by a neo-Nazi. 
  • During the 2020 elections, Homan endorsed Maria Espinoza forTX-07. Espinoza runs the anti-immigrant hate group the Remembrance Project, which “grossly misrepresents the level of crime committed by immigrants, routinely demonizes immigrants as ‘invaders’ and has a record of working with white nationalists,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
  • In 2021 and 2022, Homan was linked to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), another SPLC-designated anti-immigrant hate group, appearing in a  fundraising video and radio event.
  • Homan partnered with The United West, yet another SPLC-designated anti-Muslim hate group, on a project fearmongering about migrants at the border. The project was called “Defend the Border and Save Lives,” which is also what Homan called his 2020 book. The project is linked on The United West’s website as a fundraising tool and uses language linked to replacement theory, claiming that  “AMERICA [has been] INVADED. Help Us Stop This Threat!”

According to Zachary Mueller, Senior Research Director at America’s Voice, “It is unsurprising but still deeply concerning that the ‘intellectual father’ of family separation (Tom Homan) is working with the anti-immigrant zealot Trento to fundraise for their venture by peddling the absurd conspiracy theory that asylum seekers and migrants constitute an ‘invasion.’  He added the idea is “inexorably linked to ‘replacement theory’ and has direct connections to multiple mass murders in Pittsburgh, El Paso, Buffalo and elsewhere.


The Trump Administration ‘’zero-tolerance” family separation policy, which began as a pilot program in 2017 and was officially implemented the following year, prosecuted all parents caught crossing the border with children, whether they were crossing at a port of entry or not. The Trump Administration implemented this policy knowing it would result in a massive number of family separations.

The children were detained in separate facilities for months, separated from their parents as well as their siblings, living in cages and abysmal conditions, while parents faced prosecution and deportation. In some cases, even after the parents had been deported, the US government held onto the children and prevented the families from being reunited. Doctors with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other experts on child welfare have drawn attention to the great and irreparable harm that family separation wreaks upon children. 

Homan was part of the group that actually crafted the family separation policy, and was even called the “intellectual father” of the policy by The Atlantic. Homan first advocated for the policy during the Obama Administration. When pitching the idea of prosecuting and separating families to then-Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Homan acknowledged the separated families would suffer. “Yes, the separated families would suffer, he acknowledged, but at least ‘they’re not dead,’” said The Atlantic article.

Homan has shown a complete lack of empathy or remorse for his actions during his time as ICE Director, stating at CPAC in 2023 that he was “sick and tired hearing about the family separation.” Homan also opined about the legal ramifications of his actions, stating that “You know, I’m still being sued over that, so come get me. I don’t give a shit, right. Bottom line is, we enforced the law.”


During the Trump Administration and under Homan’s leadership, ICE dramatically stepped up enforcement actions, including actions in places ICE has traditionally avoided (such as schools and courthouses) and against immigrants generally considered low-priority (such as Dreamers). Here’s just some of what ICE did under Homan:

See the full list of what ICE has done under Homan and the Trump Administration here.


  • Reportedly referred to undocumented immigrants as “tonks“.
  • Called for a “400 percent increase” in workplace immigration raids in California. Homan made it clear that he does not believe in protections for anyone who is undocumented in the United States, regardless of record, equities, or circumstance.
  • No population is off the table,” Tom Homan said at a December 2017 news conference. He testified to the House Appropriations Committee that people who were not a priority in past administrations were priorities under his watch. Afterwards, Homan doubled down on his statements saying, “I have no regrets. It needed to be said … If you choose to enter this country illegally, which is a crime, you should be concerned.”
  • We shouldn’t wait for [immigrants] to become a criminal,” Homan testified to the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, emphasizing his determination to criminalize all immigrants.
  • Homan said non-criminal arrests help maintain the integrity of the immigration system. “If you’re in this country illegally, and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder and you need to be worried,” he told lawmakers.
  • Homan was unapologetic about arresting a high school senior hours before his prom. “We’re a law enforcement agency that enforces the law and we shouldn’t play favorites.”
  • Ignored the Constitution by calling for the arrest of lawmakers who support safe city policies. As Homan told Fox News, “We’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes.” He added that “California better hold on tight,” referencing the recently-implemented California Values Act, which limits local law enforcement cooperation with ICE officials. He also referred to the Mayor of Oakland as a “gang lookout.
  • During Northern California’s devastating wildfires that killed dozens and destroyed thousands of homes, Homan acted on fake news and falsely blamed an immigrant who had nothing to do with the fire. Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano was forced to waste precious time during a major national disaster in order to refute Homan’s inflammatory accusations.
  • In 2019, when the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing discussing immigration detention levels, Homan — who served as a witness on the panel — completely disrespected Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), saying “I’m a taxpayer. You work for me.”
  • In late November of 2020, Homan baselessly stated on Fox News, “The cartels are celebrating what is happening in this country right now because they are back in business. The border numbers are already going up because they think Joe Biden is going to be the president and they are open for business and the flow has already started. It’s a Biden effect. It’s already happening.
  • Homan was quoted in an article by the Heritage Foundation stating, “Sanctuary cities that shielded the undocumented from law enforcement, free medical care and free college educations for the children of illegals were all magnets pulling the world’s poor to America.”