- Acting ICE director Thomas Homan said he believes politicians in so-called “sanctuary cities” should be arrested and charged with crimes.
- He added that they should be held “personally accountable” for crimes committed by unauthorised immigrants.
The acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday that politicians in so-called “sanctuary cities” should be charged with harboring and smuggling unauthorised immigrants.
He said he has asked the Department of Justice to look into whether such jurisdictions are violating federal law. He added that the local officials should be held “personally accountable” for crimes committed by immigrants living in the US illegally.
“I think it’s terrible. You’ve got the state of California that wants to put politics ahead of public safety, ahead of officer safety,” Homan said. “What they have done is forced my officers to arrest dangerous criminals on their turf, in their homes and places of business, rather than arresting them in the safety and security of a county jail. It’s ridiculous.”
Homan was referring to jurisdictions, such as California, that refuse to honour ICE requests to detain suspected unauthorised immigrants past their scheduled jail release dates. The ICE requests, known as detainers, are not legally binding documents because they are not issued by judges.
Localities often argue that honouring ICE detainers would violate inmates’ Fourth Amendment rights by detaining them unlawfully. In an effort to solve the dilemma, officials often request that ICE seek court-ordered warrants to allow them to detain people lawfully, but ICE has argued that judge-signed warrants should not be necessary.
Homan’s remarks about arresting politicians quickly prompted condemnation from immigration and civil liberties advocates.
“It’s outrageous that ICE acting director Tom Homan is threatening to prosecute state and local government officials for carrying out lawful sanctuary policies,” American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director Cecillia Wang said in a statement.
“Multiple courts have ruled that the Constitution or federal law prohibits the Trump administration’s efforts to intimidate states and localities into participating in draconian immigration enforcement tactics.”
Homan also vowed in his interview with Fox News to ramp up immigration enforcement in California, which recently implemented a statewide “sanctuary” law limiting police cooperation with ICE and forbidding officers from asking people about their immigration statuses.
Homan lashed out at the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, and said California had “better hold on tight.”
“If he thinks he’s protecting immigrant communities, he’s doing quite the opposite because if he thinks ICE is going away, we’re not,” he said. “There’s no sanctuary from federal law enforcement.”