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ICE Director On Deporting Immigrants With No Criminal Record: “We Shouldn’t Wait for Them to Become a Criminal”

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**This statement has been updated and corrected **

In testimony before the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee today, ICE acting Director Thomas Homan laid bare the Trump Administration’s radical views on immigration enforcement.

Ted Hesson of Politico captured Homan’s key comments this way:

If we find someone in the country illegally, we’re going to put them in front of an immigration judge, and I think it’s the right thing to do,” ICE acting Director Thomas Homan testified to the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee…”We shouldn’t wait for them to become a criminal,” he said.


Homan said non-criminal arrests help maintain the integrity of the immigration system. Of those in the country illegally, he said, “You should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder and you need to be worried.”

When asked why ICE agents arrested a high school senior in Ossining, New York just before his prom, Homan was unapologetic. According to Elise Foley of HuffPost:

Homan said a 19-year-old who recently was seized hours before his prom was subject to a final removal order, and was thus eligible for deportation. If people are in the U.S. and have a deportation order, they shouldn’t feel comfortable that they don’t have to worry about being arrested, he said…We’re a law enforcement agency that enforces the law and we shouldn’t play favorites.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

Wow. How revealing. Homan’s statement that ‘we shouldn’t wait for them to become a criminal’ makes a breath-taking presumption: that “they” are all latent criminals, and it is only a matter of time before they act out. This is as inaccurate as it is outrageous, as it is well-established that undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans. Moreover, it appears that the Trump Administration is dropping the pretense that they are targeting ‘bad hombres.’ Homan makes it clear that the ICE strategy is to indiscriminately target the entire undocumented population in America and to intentionally spread fear throughout millions of deeply-rooted families.

This is not who we are as a nation and not what we want as a people. America, at its best, is a nation that welcomes immigrants and refugees, and we strengthen ourselves as a result of doing so. And by a 4-1 margin Americans want undocumented immigrants to be offered a chance to gain legal status if they meet certain requirements. Homan’s testimony is a reminder of how extremist views combined with enormous federal authority is producing a slow-motion tragedy of historic proportions.

For more information, see the statements and testimonies from today’s press conference regarding DHS’s strategy of arresting and deporting hard working immigrants who are not public safety threats.