The job of heading U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has become much more fearsome under the Donald Trump administration. A caravan of 1000 immigrants seeking asylum and far more rigid deportment rules make a difficult task even worse. Yet, the man who loved this job quit. Why?
Thomas Homan thought he was just taking a temporary position at the helm of ICE under President Barack Obama. The Republicans were notorious for not accepting the president’s appointments, even refusing Obama his right to appoint a Supreme Court judge.
Then, when Trump came into office, Homan agreed to stay over until a permanent head could be appointed. Trump has left empty more appointments than any other president in recent history, but that was not the problem.
According to an ICE office who spoke to NBC News, Homan first planned to retire in January 2017. That would have carried the agency through until a new president took office.
Yet, Trump decided to nominate Homan to take the permanent position in November 2017. By all accounts, he was carrying out the president’s stricter enforcement plan to the satisfaction of his boss, who runs the Department of Homeland Security and his boss’ boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The AG is notorious for his tough stance on immigration. Shortly after taking office, Sessions could be seen walking the border with ICE agents.
The acting director told immigrants that they “should be concerned:”
“If you choose to enter this country illegally, which is a crime, you should be concerned. You violated a law in this country, and I’ll tell you, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t be part of this country and not respect its laws.’
Last June, Homan said sanctuary cities that allow “egregious criminal offenders” in risked their citizens:
‘Sanctuary jurisdictions pose a threat to the American public by refusing to work with ICE and allowing egregious criminal offenders back into the community to put the lives of the public at risk.’
Sanctuary cities are those that refuse to deport immigrants. They offer them sanctuary, thus, the name.
Still, Congress never got around to putting a date on the calendar for the confirmation hearing on his nomination.
A Department of Homeland Security office said that Homan was too tough on immigration to obtain the votes he would have needed. At one point, the acting director said that politicians in charge of so-called sanctuary cities should be charged with crimes.
Homan upped the number of arrests of non-criminal immigrants and raided far more workplaces. In his statement, he said that leaving was “bittersweet:”
‘The decision to leave federal service after more than 34 years is bittersweet, but my family has sacrificed a lot in order for me to serve and it’s time for me to focus on them.’
He continued that he believed the agency had made “significant progress:”
‘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. I will continue to be a strong advocate for the workforce and for the ICE mission.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/John Moore.