The White House released a statement on November 14 noting that it was sending to the Senate the nomination of Tom Homan (shown) — who has served nearly 10 months as acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — to be the permanent director of ICE. The nomination is subject to Senate approval.
A biography of Homan posted on the ICE website states that Homan is currently the deputy director and senior official performing the duties of the director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Since 2013, which was during the Obama administration, Homan served as the executive associate director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). In this capacity, notes the biography, “he led ICE’s efforts to identify, arrest, detain, and remove illegal aliens, including those who present a danger to national security or are a risk to public safety, as well as those who enter the United States illegally or otherwise undermine the integrity of our immigration laws and our border control efforts.”
The former ICE director, Sarah Saldaña, an Obama appointee, stepped down when Trump took office on January 20. Homan assumed his present responsibilities 10 days later.
Homan’s background in law enforcement is impressive. The biography posted by ICE notes:
Mr. Homan is a 33-year veteran of law enforcement and has nearly 30 years of immigration enforcement experience. He has served as a police officer in New York; a U.S. Border Patrol agent; a special agent with the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service; as well as supervisory special agent and deputy assistant director for investigations at ICE. In 1999, Mr. Homan became the assistant district director for investigations (ADDI) in San Antonio, Texas, and three years later transferred to the ADDI position in Dallas, Texas.
While participating in a program at the Heritage Foundation in October, Homan said: “I get asked all the time, ‘Why do you arrest somebody that has been here for 10 years, for 15 years in the USA and has kids?’ Answering that question, Homan said: “If we keep sending this message, ‘It's OK to violate the laws of this country and ... not be worried about enforcement,’ then we’re never going to solve the border crisis.... It’s never going to be solved as long as people think they get a free pass.”
During the Heritage program, Homan acknowledged that he is often accused of being “heartless.” However, he defended ICE’s recent operations involving the arrest of parents who are in this country illegally. “Do I feel bad about the plight of some of these people? ... Absolutely,” he said, “but I got a job to do and, if we don’t do that job, it is only going to get worse.”
An article in the Washington Times explained that Trump had just two days remaining before the Vacancies Act would have taken effect, which would have forced Homan to give up authority to make decisions as acting ICE director.
Under the 1998 law, an administration can leave an acting official in place for up to 300 days. After that period expires, the acting official must be removed from the position or lose his administrative power. The only exception to this rule is if a permanent nominee has been submitted to the Senate, which resets the clock. Now that he’s been nominated, Homan will be able to remain functioning as the agency chief while the nomination is pending.
As we observed in our article on October 9, Homan strongly opposed the bill that California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on October 5, prohibiting state and local agencies from enforcing immigration laws or from working with immigration enforcement agencies — thereby making California a “sanctuary state.” The day after Brown signed the bill into law, Homan posted a news release providing his department’s response to the bill, which takes effect next year.
Homan began his statement strongly, noting, “Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign SB54 and make California a sanctuary state for illegal aliens — including those who have committed crimes — will undermine public safety and hinder ICE from performing its federally mandated mission. The governor is simply wrong when he claims otherwise.”
Homan continued, “SB54 will negatively impact ICE operations in California by nearly eliminating all cooperation and communication with our law enforcement partners in the state.”
The part of Homan’s statement that received the most attention in the media was his prediction that the law will force ICE to conduct at-large arrests. He said: “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, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community. ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have in California.”
By naming Homan to head ICE, Trump has found an individual who takes a no-nonsense approach to enforcing our nation’s immigration laws.
Image of Thomas Homan: Screenshot of a C-SPAN YouTube