The Trump administration has tripled enforcement against employers that hire illegal immigrants, an offense that could involve an array of crimes, the nation’s top immigration official says.
“Simple math, more officers in the county jail equals less officers in the community,” @ICEgov Director Thomas Homan says.
“We’ve increased worksite enforcement by over 300 percent. We’re going to continue doing that,” Thomas Homan, who is retiring as chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington.
“We’re not only going to continue conducting criminal investigations of employers where we have evidence of criminal behavior. We’re doing the audits and we are arresting illegal employees,” Homan said.
Homan, acting director of ICE because he has not been confirmed by the Senate, is set to retire later this month.
As yet, the Trump administration hasn’t chosen a successor, he said at the event sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies, a pro-enforcement think tank in Washington.
Homan spoke in a question-and-answer format with Jessica Vaughan, the organization’s director of policy studies.
“It’s not just employing an illegal alien. There is tax fraud going on. Employers aren’t paying their taxes,” Homan said, adding:
There is identity theft going on. A lot of these illegal immigrants are using the Social Security numbers of U.S. citizens. There is identity theft. There is tax fraud. There is trafficking. So, there is a criminal aspect to worksite enforcement people don’t understand.
Homan addressed a wide range of topics
In April, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, sent a “cease and desist” letter to ICE, asking Homan’s agency to “direct your agents operating in New York to follow the clear constitutional requirements attendant to searches and arrests.”
“If you fail to do so,” Cuomo wrote, “I will explore and pursue all available legal recourse, taking any such action that is necessary to protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers.”
Homan responded that he is a native New Yorker and isn’t intimidated by Cuomo.
“Last year, we arrested nearly 5,000 criminal aliens off the streets of New York,” Homan said. “Rather than a cease and desist letter, a letter of thank you would be appreciated.”
The Justice Department has sued California over a sanctuary state policy that prohibits local law enforcement from assisting federal immigration officials, even by holding illegal immigrants who already are detained in county jails.
Homan responded to criticism from California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, that officials at ICE and other federal agencies aren’t telling the truth. Homan said California law enforcement authorities oppose Senate Bill 54, the sanctuary state law.
“The California [State] Sheriffs’ Association, the governor’s own sheriffs, agree with us that SB54 prevents communications with ICE,” Homan said, “and dangerous criminals like gang members, those that assault police officers, they’re being released from jails all across California.”
If local law enforcement cooperates, he said, then ICE agents won’t need to look for criminal immigrants in the community.
“When one [ICE] officer can sit in a county jail and process 10 illegal aliens in a shift, [and] now you release those 10 aliens to the street, I’ve got to send a whole team out to try and locate one,” Homan said, adding:
Simple math: More officers in the county jail equals less officers in the community. That’s just operational reality. … Don’t tell me to prioritize criminals, but you can’t come to my county jail. It doesn’t make sense.
The ICE chief praised President Donald Trump for doing more than any of the other five presidents he worked for to protect public safety. But he expressed skepticism about the president’s willingness to make a deal with Congress on the policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which the Obama administration imposed by executive action.
DACA, which Trump announced he will end, allows certain illegal immigrants who were brought here illegally as children to be shielded from deportation and to obtain work permits.
Although Trump and Congress failed to reach a deal on legislating a version of policy, the president has said he is willing to support amnesty for those so-called “Dreamers” in exchange for increased enforcement, such as a border wall, and a merit-based immigration system.
Vaughan asked Homan: “Doesn’t amnesty encourage illegal immigration?”
“When you reward illegal behavior, it certainly does,” Homan replied. “If Congress chooses to pass legislation on DACA, what I’ve said many times is you can’t pass a clean DACA bill without talking about the underlying reasons for illegal immigration.”
He added that the United States must seek to stop illegal immigration first.
You’ve got to address that as part of the fix. Because if you don’t, those families coming across now will be your next DACA in 10 years. Let’s stop kicking that can down the road. If you want to do a fix on DACA, let’s talk about an overarching issue of illegal immigration, so we don’t have a DACA every 10 years. We don’t have an amnesty every 15 to 20 years. Let’s fix it.
As he prepares to exit the agency, Homan also strongly defended his agents against political attacks and name-calling.
“A lot of people want to attack ICE. I see it every day. They want to call ICE racist. They want to call us Nazis,” Homan said.
“What I want to make clear is, you can not like what we do, but don’t vilify the men and women that took an oath to enforce the law. If you don’t like what we do, then talk to your congressman and senator and tell them you don’t like the law.”