Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan spoke to Fox News host Neil Cavuto Tuesday about California’s decision to become a “sanctuary state.” Watch above, or read the transcript below.
Neil Cavuto: There are sanctuary cities and towns, but a sanctuary state? Well, California officially becoming the first such state in the country. Gov. Jerry Brown says it is, well, meant to really protect illegal immigrants living in the shadows of society and making sure authorities don’t try to yank them out of there. But acting ICE Director Thomas Homan says it is putting politics above public safety. He joins us now with his first interview since the Golden State became the sanctuary state. Very good to have you, Acting Director. I mean, I couldn’t believe this when I first heard it because it’s one thing when a city or community kind of unofficially espouse these views, quite another for a governor to put his stamp and his blessing behind it on a statewide level. What do you make of it?
Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan: I think it’s terrible. I mean, you have a state … that wants to put politics ahead of public safety, ahead of officer safety. What they’ve done is force my officers to arrest dangerous criminals on their turf, in their homes, and places of business rather than arresting them in the safety of security of the county jail. It’s ridiculous to knowingly and intentionally put law enforcement at risk and the American communities themselves put at risk. When you release a public safety threat back into the public, it’s just a foolish decision they made.
Cavuto: What can you do if you’re not going to get local help in trying to track down folks you say not only shouldn’t be here, but they’re a threat to people here?
Homan: Well look, if he thinks he’s protecting immigrant community, he’s doing quite the opposite because if you think ICE is going away, we’re not. There’s no sanctuary from federal law enforcement. As a matter of fact, we’re in the process now—I’m going to significantly increase our enforcement presence in California. We’re already doing it. We’re going to detail additional enforcement assets to California. California better hold on tight. They’re about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers in the state of California. If the politicians in California don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will.
Cavuto: So Director, what do you do if local police turn the other way and say our loyalty is to the governor?
Homan: Well, first of all, the street cops, they do not like this legislation. They’re totally against it. The street cops understand what we’re trying to do. We want to take public safety threats out of the communities. And so this comes to—this is a political decision. This isn’t a law enforcement decision. No one thought about the safety of law enforcement when this decision was made. No one thought about cases like Kate Steinle. You know, I can give example after example.
In Sonoma County a few weeks ago, an illegal alien was arrested. We put a detainer on him. He was arrested for domestic violence. Sonoma County didn’t honor the detainer. What happened? Two weeks later, he killed that girl. Now she has two young daughters without a mother. So I can give example after example of the effect this law is going to have on community safety in the state of California. The state of California better hang on tight because the smuggling organizations are using the sanctuary cities law, the sanctuary state law as a selling ploy. More illegal aliens will be coming to California. More criminal aliens will be coming to California. So Californians just bit off a lot more than they can chew.
Cavuto: How do you follow up on that, though? How do you search these individuals out without looking, as I think the governor was intimating, like the Gestapo?
Homan: I’ve got 20,000 American patriots that work for ICE. They strap a gun to their hip every day and leave the safety and security of their homes to protect these communities and to protect the homeland. So shame on Governor Brown for that opinion. What I can tell you is that we’re going to do responses. As I said, we’re going to vastly increase our enforcement footprint in the state of California. We’re going to be all over the place and we’re going to enforce law without apology.
What I’m also doing is working with the Department of Justice. For these sanctuary cities that knowingly shield and harbor an illegal alien in their jail and don’t allow us access, that is in my opinion a violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324, that’s an alien smuggling statute. I’ve asked the Department of Justice to look at this. Are these sanctuary cities—can we hold them accountable? Are they violating federal law? So there’s more to come on that. There’s certainly an angle we’re looking at.
Cavuto: What if they do just that? What do you do?
Homan: Pardon me?
Cavuto: What if they do just that? What do you do?
Homan: I think we charge some of these sanctuary cities with violating federal law. I think if they are knowingly harboring and shield a known illegal alien, a public safety threat in the jail, and won’t give us access to that alien …
Cavuto: But they are, Director, right? In a lot of cases they’re doing just that. Then what do you do if they’re protecting or if there’s a shield, a protection around such individuals, how do you force the point?
Homan: We got to work with the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice needs to do a couple things. N0. 1, they need to file charges against the sanctuary cities. No. 2, they need to hold back their funding. Another thing they need to do, they need to hold these politicians personally accountable. I mean, more citizens are going to die because of these policies and these politicians can’t make these decisions and be held unaccountable for people dying. I mean, we need to hold these politicians accountable for their actions.
Cavuto: Does the president share your views, sir?
Homan: Absolutely he does.
Cavuto: He’s told you that?
Homan: The president is totally against sanctuary cities. He knows, as well as I do, that people are dying, people are being victimized by illegal aliens in this country and there are certain sanctuary cities that don’t want to cooperate with us.
Look, this is about the American public. This is about the U.S. citizens being victimized by some of these criminal illegal aliens. We’ve got to hold sanctuary cities accountable. This is going to continue. The crime rate in California is going to increase … At least 50 percent of these criminal aliens being released back into the public re-offend the first year. Seventy-five percent will re-offend in five years. This is a victimization of the American community. This isn’t the America I grew up in. We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on. We’ve got to take them to court and start charging some of these politicians with crimes.