"If you enter this country illegally, you should be concerned that someone is looking for you", says ICE Director Tom Homan
In a harsh exchange with the members of the White House Press Corps, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tom Homan laid out his views on illegal immigration. The Pavlovic Today is sharing the most pressing questions that have been raised by the toughest news room in the free world.
- Sir, aren’t you concerned though about exacerbating fears about undocumented immigrants? You're making it sound as if undocumented immigrants commit more crimes than people who are just native-born Americans. There was a Cato Institute study put out in March of this year that says all immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans relative to their shares of the population; even illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans. What is your sense of the numbers on this? Are undocumented people more likely or less likely to commit crimes?
I think you're misinterpreting what I’m saying. What I’m saying is two things. Number one, people that enter this country illegally violate the laws of this country. You can't want to be a part of this great nation and not respect its laws. So when you violate the laws of this country -- and the taxpayers in this country spend billions of dollars a year on border security, immigration court, detention. And they go through a process. They get a decision from the immigration judge -- most times will appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, then to a circuit court. When that due process is over, that final order from a federal judge needs to mean something or this whole system has no integrity.
I don't know what other federal agency in this country is told to ignore a federal judge’s order from a bench. We are simply doing our job. Did I say aliens commit more crimes than U.S. citizens? I didn't say that. I’m saying, number one, they're in the country illegally. They're in the country -- they already committed one crime by entering the country illegally. But when they commit a crime against a citizen of this country, they draw our attention.
As far as fear in the immigrant community, I testified a couple weeks ago and I get a lot of media saying, well, you're instilling fear in the immigrant community. My purpose is to dispel the notion that if you enter this country illegally and violate the laws of this nation, you should not be comfortable. None of us in this room would be comfortable if we go speeding down a highway. We're going to think, maybe I’ll get a ticket. If you lie on your taxes you may get audited.
Well, if you enter this country illegally, you should be concerned that someone is looking for you. You should be concerned because you violated the laws of this country.
- And nobody wants to excuse lawbreaking, but what do you do with a family where a mother brings her children across the border, she has committed a crime in your view at that point by crossing the border illegally, she’s in this country with her two young children, those children grow up, become the so-called DREAMers in this country. Do you deport the mother and separate the mother from the family? Because what you're saying -- if you look at this from a cold and clinical standpoint, what you're saying is because the mother crossed the border illegally, committed a crime, that she should be separated from her children. What do you say to that?
: Well, I got to tell you --
- You're not setting policy here. You're here to talk about enforcement.
: I’m here -- I’m here to --
- But that enforcement has real impacts on people’s lives.
: U.S. citizen families get separated every day when a parent or when a parent gets arrested for a criminal charge. So those here illegally, they put themselves in that position.
So when it comes to separating families, when someone chooses to enter this country illegally and they're here illegally and they choose to have a child that's a U.S. citizen, they’ve put themselves in that position, not the U.S. government, not the ICE officers. So, again, we're enforcing the law.
Look, if we don't have border security, if we don't enforce the laws that's written in the books, you're never going to control the border. Why do you think we got 11 million to 12 million people in this country now? Because there has been this notion that if you get by the Border Patrol, you get in the United States, you have a U.S. citizen kid, no one is looking for you. But those days are over.
- So you should arrest the mothers, go after the mothers? Sir, is that the message from this White House, you standing at this podium today that if you are an undocumented immigrant in this country right now listening to you that you should be fearful, that you should be concerned, you should be looking over your shoulder that ICE is looking for you?
Well, you're losing the message.
- No, I want to make sure that that's what the message is.
No, I’m saying -- let me just say it again. ICE prioritizes our enforcement efforts on national security threats, public safety threats, those who have been ordered removed by a judge and failed to depart, and those who have been ordered removed, were removed, and reentered the country -- which is -- the legislation is about -- that's a felony when you reenter the country after removal. That's what I’m saying. That's our priorities.
However, what I’m saying, during the course of those operations if we find someone here illegally, we're not going to turn the other way. We're going to put them in front of a judge. They're going to have their due process and let the criminal justice system work the way it’s been designed.
Again, we're enforcing the laws enacted by Congress and signed by the President. ICE officers, U.S. attorneys don't make these laws up. Our job is to execute the laws of the country.
- Do you believe that that should apply to children who are brought here illegally, the DREAMers?
I think the administration has been clear that the deferred action for childhood arrivals, they still have deferred action. And the only DACA people that I know have been arrested are those that violated our policy by committing crime.
- Do you agree with that policy, that they should be allowed to stay?
That's above my pay grade.
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