Author:Jeremy B White
As the public face of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency tasked with removing immigrants in the country illegally, Thomas Homan became a prominent ally in Mr Trump’s quest for stricter laws and more stringent enforcement.
But the Senate never voted to confirm him despite his serving as the agency’s de fact head since 2017, and the delay has come under pointed scrutiny. Mr Homan was initially planning to retire in January of 2017 but chose to remain as acting director as the search for a replacement unfolded; when it did not yield another candidate, he remained, according to an ICE official.
“It has been the honour of my life to lead the men and women of ICE for more than a year”, Mr Homan said in a statement. “Because of their tremendous dedication and hard work, we have made significant progress this past year in enforcing our nation’s immigration and customs laws, and in protecting public safety and national security.”
A group of Democrats last week sent the head of the Department of Homeland Security a letter demanding previously requested information on Mr Homan, saying a thorough vetting was necessary given his having presided over “radical – and in some cases possibly illegal – changes in immigration enforcement policies and practices”.
During his tenure, Mr Homan has developed a reputation for making inflammatory statements. After Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf warned residents of an impending sweep, Mr Homan went on Fox and Friends to compare the mayor to a gang member.
“What she did is no better than a gang lookout yelling ‘police’ when a police cruiser comes into the neighbourhood”, Mr Homan said in February.
The administration’s reaction to Ms Schaaf’s warning, including public statements by Mr Homan, generated controversy.
After Mr Homan said that “the mayor’s irresponsible decision” was partially responsible for 864 immigrants who posed “public safety threats” remaining at “large” – a charge later echoed by Mr. Trump – an ICE spokesman resigned, saying the administration was spreading inaccurate numbers.
While Mr Trump’s promised border wall with Mexico has yet to see substantial progress or secure needed funding, under his tenure ICE has embraces a more aggressive approach.
Arrests of immigrants have soared, including among those who have not been convicted of crimes, and an official shift in policy has made all undocumented immigrants targets for deportation – eliminating an Obama-era standard that de-prioritised those who had longstanding ties in the US or did not pose a threat.