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Immigration 101: Who is Thomas Homan?

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Originally published March 30, 2018; updated July 10, 2018

Thomas Homan is the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal immigration agency responsible for arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants, who is reportedly retiring next month.

A career immigration official who has served under six Presidents, Homan previously served as ICE’s executive associate director of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and is a 33-year law enforcement veteran. 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 in order to consolidate power during the Trump era.

The former NYPD officer and U.S. Border Patrol agent is now notorious for wanting to prosecute elected officials and directing his department to mass-deport immigrants regardless of priorities.

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

Thomas Homan has played a key role in turbo-charging Donald Trump’s mass-deportation machine. Here is Homan’s record so far on immigration:

Thomas Homan actions at ICE

In Homan’s time as acting ICE director, Homan and his agency have:

Things Thomas Homan has said

  • Reportedly used to refer 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.
  • Said “ICE will no longer exempt any class removal” for deportation.
  • No population is off the table,” 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 are “priorities” now. 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.”
  • Said he will “never back down” from telling all undocumented immigrants they should be worried about getting arrested and deported under the Trump Administration.
  • 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.
  • “ICE will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests” of persons not initially targeted, Homan threatened.
  • 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. 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.
  • “We’re going from zero to 100 under a new administration,” Homan told a House committee. Dispelling the previous notion of people who had a “U.S. citizen kid” thinking no one is looking for them, he said, “those days are over.”
  • 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. Sheriff Giordano was forced to waste precious time during a major national disaster in order to refute Homan’s inflammatory accusations.

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