Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, charged leading California Democrats Monday, saying they were deliberately distorting the nature and purpose of recent immigration operations in the state.
Homan singled out House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who in February said a targeted ICE operation in Northern California was a “bigoted” attempt to “terrorize innocent immigrant families.”
Pelosi’s comments were “beyond the pale,” the ICE chief said.
“Our ICE officers are protecting immigrant communities” by arresting criminal aliens who live among law-abiding immigrants, Homan told reporters. ICE officers “don’t arrest innocent people” during targeted operations, Homan said and added they arrest only those with previous criminal convictions or pending orders of removal.
Homan, whose nomination to become the permanent ICE director is stalled in the Senate, also heaped on two of Pelosi’s fellow California Democrats—Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Dianne Feinstein—for their own criticism of the agency’s work in the state. Feinstein, in particular, seemed to be attacking ICE in hypocritical fashion, he noted.
“She voted for the very laws we’re enforcing,” he said, referring Feinstein’s support of the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996, which stiffened penalties for some immigration-related offenses.
Homan’s comments came on the eve of President Donald Trump’s visit to California, which has become hostile territory as far as his administration’s immigration agenda is concerned. California under Brown has become the nation’s foremost sanctuary state, thanks to a series of new laws that sharply circumscribe cooperation between immigration authorities and local officials, police, and businesses.
The Trump administration responded last week by suing California over its sanctuary laws. California’s policies amounted to a subversion of federal law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech to Sacramento law enforcers.
“There is no nullification; there is no secession,” Sessions said. “Federal law is the supreme law of the land. A refusal to apprehend and deport those, especially the criminal element, effectively rejects all immigration law and creates an open borders system.”
“Open borders is a radical, irrational idea that cannot be accepted,” Sessions added.
Trump’s administration is seeking to correct what it sees as a misguided view of sanctuary cities journalists and liberal politicians hold, amid heated rhetoric on both sides of the debate. Far from protecting immigrants, sanctuary jurisdictions enable dangerous criminal aliens to commit more crimes in the heavily immigrant communities in which they live, a senior administration said.
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