On Tuesday, the acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lashed out at a Dem lawmaker, telling her his agency was just enforcing Congressional statutes.
“First of all, no one on this panel is anti-immigrant,” Thomas Homan told Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-California 44th District). “We are law enforcement officers that enforce the law that you all enacted. So to sit there and say that we’re anti-immigrant is just wrong. We are enforcing the laws. If you think it’s okay to enter the country illegally, and you shouldn’t be arrested, that’s just wrong. The laws clearly state, if you enter the country illegally, it is a crime. And no one is up here saying all illegal aliens are criminals. A certain percentage of them are criminals. They commit yet another offense after they are here. I have said many times I certainly understand the plight of these people, and I feel bad for some of these people, but I have a job to do. I have to enforce the law, and uphold the oath I took to enact the laws enacted by you, Congress.”
The remarks happened during a hearing for the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border & Maritime Security. Barragán had complained about the practice of conflating noncriminal undocumented immigrants with gang members.
“We love to talk about this issue about the MS-13 gangs,” she said. “We love to paint immigrants as criminals. That is not the complete facts, and that is very offensive for me to see continuing to happen. It’s continuing to message this. This anti-immigrant agenda. There are many of lots of good immigrants. And then I hear this rhetoric: ‘More DACA-like people.’ Guess what. ‘DACA-like people’ are the people we need in this country. They’ve served this country, they’ve gone to college, they produce, and they contribute to the economy. So to put them into the same category is completely offensive.”
As you may have gathered, the congresswoman and the acting director are on opposite sides of immigration policy. Barragán recently co-signed a letter calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to suspend programs that provided legal help to detained people facing immigration court. (The AG ended up balking amid pressure, and announced that the programs will remain ongoing, pending a review.)
As for Homan, he’s played a role in managing ICE as it ramps up arrests of alleged undocumented immigrants, including noncriminal offenders. He demanded criminal charges for politicians running sanctuary cities. Homan also reportedly co-signed a memo to Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. This letter, according to The Washington Post, pushed for the prosecution of parents crossing the border with children. The letter writers said this would help cut the number of attempted crossings. Sessions ended up announcing in May that the Department of Justice would prosecute all such parents, and separate them from children. Homan is set to retire in June.
[Screengrab via C-SPAN 3; Homan in center]