Enforcing laws already on the books helps significantly to fix the illegal immigration crisis, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday.
“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,” ICE’s Thomas Homan said in a speech at The Heritage Foundation.
“It’s never going to be solved as long as people think they get a free pass,” Homan said.
Homan became acting director of ICE on Jan. 30, 10 days after President Donald Trump took office.
“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?,’” Homan said, reinforcing his point. “Why? Because if we don’t, we continue to send the message [that] ‘You are exempt from federal law.’ If that is the message we want to send, you are never going to solve the border crisis.”
Homan credited Trump with the success the agency has seen in confronting illegal immigration.
“We have already made great progress on the border issue [with] this president,” Homan said, adding:
His policy, whether you like the president or not, whether you like his policy or not, you can’t argue with the results [of] what’s going on on the border right now. Why? Because we are enforcing the rule of law and we are communicating a strong message that nothing is off the table.
This includes the president’s executive orders on border security and immigration enforcement. One order withheld certain funding from sanctuary cities, those jurisdictions that do not comply with U.S. immigration law. Trump also directed the hiring of “10,000 additional immigration officers” and set in motion plans for a border wall, as The Daily Signal previously reported.
The New York Times reported Oct. 12 that apprehensions of unlawful border-crossers declined by 40 percent from the same month last year. The Washington Times reported in May that illegal border crossings had declined by 76 percent.
“This president signed a series of executive orders, a lot of papers, a lot of words, a lot of sentences, but he could have done the executive orders in one sentence: ‘ICE will now enforce the laws enacted by Congress and on the books,’” Homan said.
Not enforcing the law is a waste of resources as well as a security risk, the acting ICE director said.
“This country spends billions of dollars a year on border security, detention, immigration courts, attorneys, appeals courts, circuit courts, and at the end, a judge issues a final order [immigration officials] need to execute, because if they are not, there is absolutely no integrity to this entire system. Might as well just open the border,” Homan said.
But he said he is used to pushback.
“I have had long [conversations] where people say, ‘Why are you so heartless?’”
Homan said his personal experience working in law enforcement for almost 30 years has made him see the vitalness of adhering to the law.
“I was at headquarters … when I got a phone call to get on a plane and go immediately to Victoria, Texas, to lead the investigation of 19 dead aliens in the back of a tractor-trailer,” he said, adding:
I immediately got on a plane and went down there. The crime scene was kept secure until I got there. I actually walked into the back of that tractor-trailer and was surrounded by 19 dead aliens. …
They suffocated in the back of the tractor-trailer, one a 5-year-old boy. That haunts me to this day, because I had a 5-year-old boy at the time.
Illegal immigration is dangerous both for American citizens and the illegal immigrants themselves, Homan said, and that’s why he wants reform.
“The aliens-smuggling organization didn’t care about them,” he said of the 19 dead border-crossers. “So when people say that I am cold and I am heartless, you have not seen what I have seen. We got to stop, we got to end this stuff. This president has taken [it] seriously.”
Here is the video for the entire event: