ICE chief says il­le­gals have valid rea­son to live in fear

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Il­le­gal im­mi­grants should be liv­ing in fear of be­ing de­ported, the chief of U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment said Tues­day, push­ing back against a grow­ing sen­ti­ment among Democrats on Capi­tol Hill and ac­tivists across the coun­try who have com­plained about agents en­forc­ing the laws on the books.

Thomas D. Ho­man, act­ing di­rec­tor at ICE, said any­one in the coun­try with­out au­tho­riza­tion can be ar­rested and those who have been or­dered de­ported by judges must be re­moved if laws are to have mean­ing.

His com­ments marked a ma­jor shift for an agency that Pres­i­dent Obama for­bade from en­forc­ing the law when it came to more than 9 mil­lion of the coun­try’s es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants. Un­shack­led from Mr. Obama’s stric­tures, agents have dra­mat­i­cally in­creased the num­ber of ar­rests.

Ad­vo­cacy groups are en­raged and

de­mand le­niency for “trau­ma­tized” im­mi­grants. Mr. Ho­man makes no apolo­gies.

“If you’re in this coun­try il­le­gally and you com­mit­ted a crime by be­ing in this coun­try, you should be un­com­fort­able, you should look over your shoul­der. You need to be wor­ried,” Mr. Ho­man tes­ti­fied to the House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee. “No pop­u­la­tion is off the ta­ble.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is ask­ing for sig­nif­i­cant boosts in spend­ing for both bor­der and in­te­rior en­force­ment, but it is meet­ing re­sis­tance from Democrats who op­pose a crack­down.

“Democrats will not ac­cept a penny of fund­ing for a new de­por­ta­tion force or a bor­der wall,” said Rep. Nita M. Lowey of New York, the rank­ing Demo­crat on the com­mit­tee.

Bor­der Pa­trol act­ing Chief Carla Provost de­fended the 74 miles of fenc­ing that Pres­i­dent Trump wants to erect next year, say­ing the wall will plug holes where il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity is still a prob­lem in San Diego and parts of Texas.

She said the south­west­ern bor­der is at medium risk of pen­e­tra­tion and needs the wall to as­sist. She said con­struc­tion on the 74 miles would start in ei­ther March or April.

Mr. Ho­man, mean­while, said he needs a ma­jor in­fu­sion of de­ten­tion beds to hold the larger pop­u­la­tion of il­le­gal im­mi­grants, now that his agents have been un­shack­led from the re­stric­tions un­der Mr. Obama.

He said the num­ber of coun­tries re­fus­ing to take back their de­por­tees has been cut in half, while the num­ber of ju­ris­dic­tions look­ing to have their po­lice and sher­iff’s deputies trained to process il­le­gal im­mi­grants in their jails has nearly dou­bled and will likely triple by the end of the year.

In ad­di­tion, some 400,000 il­le­gal im­mi­grants or­dered re­moved by judges but who were ig­nored un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion are now back on the list of pri­or­i­ties.

All of that means more il­le­gal im­mi­grants to be de­tained in prepa­ra­tion for de­por­ta­tion.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Rup­pers­berger, Mary­land Demo­crat, told Mr. Ho­man not to try de­port­ing drunken driv­ers.

“DWI or traf­fic is not re­ally con­sid­ered to be the type of peo­ple that are hurt­ing our coun­try,” he said.

Mr. Ho­man, though, said drunken driv­ing sounds like a pub­lic safety risk. “They should be re­moved,” he said.

Mr. Ho­man said any­one in the coun­try with­out au­tho­riza­tion is a tar­get for en­force­ment.

“We shouldn’t wait for them to be­come a crim­i­nal,” he said.

That an­gered im­mi­grant rights ad­vo­cates, who said it showed an­tipa­thy to­ward il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

“Wow. How re­veal­ing,” said Frank Sharry, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at Amer­ica’s Voice. “Ho­man makes it clear that the ICE strat­egy is to in­dis­crim­i­nately tar­get the en­tire un­doc­u­mented pop­u­la­tion in Amer­ica and to in­ten­tion­ally spread fear through­out mil­lions of deeply rooted fam­i­lies.”

He called Mr. Ho­man’s tes­ti­mony ex­trem­ist.

Mr. Ho­man pushed back against such crit­i­cism. He said his agents are en­forc­ing the laws as writ­ten and no other branch of law en­force­ment faces the abu­sive ques­tions his em­ploy­ees do.

He said the il­le­gal im­mi­grants de­serve the blame for sep­a­rat­ing fam­i­lies. When a U.S. ci­ti­zen com­mits a crime and goes to jail, he said, the po­lice who catch him aren’t blamed for keep­ing him from his fam­ily.

Mr. Ho­man said the in­creased risk of en­force­ment is part of the rea­son il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion across the south­west­ern bor­der is at its low­est level in decades.

Democrats, though, said his of­fi­cers need to show more dis­cre­tion.

Ms. Lowey raised the case of a 19-year-old man in New York who was ar­rested on the day of his high school prom, which she said sent the wrong sig­nal.

She said the man had kept out of trou­ble and was ar­rested while wait­ing at a bus stop for school.

Mr. Homen de­fended the ar­rest as valid. He said the young man com­mit­ted a crime when he sneaked across the bor­der and ig­nored an im­mi­gra­tion judge’s or­der to be re­moved.

“He lost his case, and be­cause we don’t like the re­sults of that case we for­get about it?” Mr. Ho­man asked Ms. Lowey. “I don’t know where else in the Amer­i­can jus­tice sys­tem any other agency is told to ig­nore a judge’s rul­ing.”

“If you’re in this coun­try il­le­gally and you com­mit­ted a crime by be­ing in this coun­try, you should be un­com­fort­able, you should look over your shoul­der. You need to be wor­ried.” — Thomas D. Ho­man, act­ing ICE di­rec­tor

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