Securing the Border Save Lives: Former Ice Director Tom Homan
By: Daniel Del Valle, George Beck, Ph.D. & Joseph R. Uliano, Ed.D.
Blue Magazine recently sat down with former Ice Director Thomas Homan and current Fox News Contributor to ascertain his perspective on the recent violence against ICE facilities, and disdain for border patrol agents, while these law enforcement officers risk their lives to lock up criminals and keep us safe. Former Director Homan spent 34 years in law enforcement, starting out in patrol in upstate New York, before transferring to the Border Patrol, and rising through the ranks to lead the organization. Mr. Homan is the first director to rise from the ranks. In this candid and uncensored interview, Mr. Homan holds no punches.
Blue Magazine thanks former Director Mr. Homan for sitting down with us to discuss many issues effecting law enforcement and the agency he formerly lead.
The Blue Magazine: Please tell our readers about your career in law enforcement.
Tom Homan: Well, I was a police officer in upstate New York. My father was a police officer and also my grandfather. I knew since I was kid I always wanted to be a cop. I started out in New York for about a year and a half and then I joined the Border Patrol. For 34 years, I've worn a badge and gun, enforcing the law. I am very proud to say that I was a law enforcement officer. Anybody that ever asks what I did for a living; I tell them I was a law enforcement officer. There is no bigger honor than to serve to protect and help others.
Can you tell us about your position before you retired?
I left the Border Patrol to advance and become a Special Agent, probably for about eight or nine years, and then I started climbing the ranks. I became the Assistant District Director, working as head of criminal investigations in San Antonio. Then I transferred to Dallas to run the investigations office there. Then DHS was created, and the legacy US Customs Service Special Agents and the INS Special Agents became folded into one agency called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I continued to promote and worked my way up to headquarters to be the Executive Associate Director for Enforcement. That position was third in command for the Agency and it had the responsibility of all interior enforcement operations within the US.
And in January 2017, I retired. At my retirement ceremony, my family and about 400 people were in attendance. All my stuff that I collected over 34 years was already packed in my home garage. My office was empty. At the end of the retirement ceremony, I was in the hallway shaking hands. I received a phone call from John Kelly who at the time was the Secretary of Homeland Security—an American hero—and he said the he and President Trump wanted me to be the Director of ICE and delay retirement. I told him that I would need to discuss this with my family first as we were prepared after a long career to change pace. I had also signed a contract with a consulting firm which paid much more than the government. I would also have to see about the contract options. He gave me the weekend to think about it but before hanging up left me with these few words. The President of the United States is asking you, a career law enforcement officer, to serve your country a little bit longer. Think about that. Well, Monday morning I agreed and came back to serve this president and my country for a while more. So the next morning I came back. I was honored to be the first Director of ICE who came up through the ranks. Anything I would ask of my 20,000 employees; I have done myself as throughout my own career.
Was it stimulating to get that call?
No, it was shocking. Exciting but shocking. I mean John Kelly's words that the President of the United States is calling me back to duty stuck in my mind the entire weekend while I was considering the choice. My wife was initially against it because in 34 years we moved a lot. We moved six times for God and country across this nation.
When I accepted on that Monday and the White House announced it I received hundreds of calls from ICE employees, current friends and family, college buddies and many people from my hometown. It was overwhelming. The following morning I showed up to the office to be met by numerous employees that were shocked and gave me a heroes welcome. Later on that day, I met with a lot of Ethics attorneys in my office who were waiting on me to make sure I gave every gift back that my wife and I received a few days earlier. Rules are rules.
Since my first day back I have met and talked to the President many times. I actually think this President… I've worked for six presidents and respect everyone because I don't care what party they are from, I respect the office of the Presidency, but I'm going to say it: President Trump has done more for border security and law enforcement than any other president I’d worked for. No contest. No comparison. He talked the talk during the campaign like they all do but President Trump walked the walk when he became President. He is doing everything he can to secure our border and protect America.
Assess the border for us right now.
The border right now is extremely vulnerable. The numbers have gotten better the last two months, but part of that is because of the season. During the hottest summer months the numbers will go down. But they're also down a lot because the President has made a deal with Mexico like no other president was able to. I'm glad he did it, because now Mexico is actually enforcing their own immigration laws. The threat of tariffs worked thus far. We just have to hope that Mexico’s work is sustained.
There is an unprecedented crisis at our border because illegal aliens are taking advantage of loopholes in the legal system that the Democratic leadership in Congress is refusing to address. This is not just a humanitarian crisis—it's a national security crisis. You can read many intelligence reports. The criminal cartels in Mexico control the northern border of Mexico. Nothing crosses that border without a thumbs-up from the cartels and paying their plaza fees. They are managing where these large groups of families go and when they send a large group of 200 families this way. They know that moving large groups in one Sector will tie up the Border Patrol for hours, so they can send bad guys and drugs through the unprotected areas of the Sector because of the chaos of these large family groups. This border is very vulnerable right now to criminals and drugs because the cartels are running the show.
If somebody in this world wants to do harm to this country, they’re not coming by plane because of all the intelligence checks done before you get an airline ticket. That's why we have no-fly-lists and all the different intelligence databases.
If they want to harm this country, they’re coming the way 12 to 20 million others did—especially right now knowing half the border patrol is not on the line. That's what makes us vulnerable. And this president recognizes that and that's why he’s doing everything he can to secure the border without the help of Congress and without the help of the courts.
So certain members of Congress are calling for the abolition of ICE. What are they missing?
It's a political play to their base. It’s the red meat to their base of people who have open borders agendas. It's easier for Congress to abolish a federal law enforcement agency than do their job? Ridiculous. If they don't like what ICE does, then change the law. They’re the legislators.
You see, if they looked at the facts that 90% of everybody arrested by ICE is a criminal—but they don't even talk about that—they’d be getting rid of an agency that 90% of people they arrest are criminals in the country illegally. They're doing the law enforcement work to look for the bad guy that are putting our communities at risk.
Do they realize that ICE last year seized enough opioids to kill every man woman and child in this country twice? Do they not realize they’ve arrested 37,000 criminals, most with significant violent criminal histories. ICE also rescued over a thousand children from predators. They’ve rescued several hundred women from sex traffickers. They’ve arrested thousands of child predators. They're the second largest federal agency that makes up the Joint Terrorism Task Force. ICE conducts many terrorism investigations. That's who they want to remove—that's what they want to abolish?
Look… It's a sound bite for their base. That's all it is. They do not know what ICE does, because if they did, they’d be thanking them rather than vilifying them.
What would you like to see state and local law enforcement do to assist in reducing the criminality associated with illegal immigration?
I’d like them to do what they've been doing for decades working with us. We're the good guys. We’re enforcing the law. If someone is in the country illegally and ICE has probable cause, that another law enforcement agency has them in custody, don't conceal them; don't harbor them in your jail. You know, when I was director, I took a lot of heat during one interview. I said the Department of Justice needs to look at this issue with the sanctuary jails. I arrested people for harboring illegal aliens in their home or their place of business, but what are the jails doing? When we notify that we have probable cause based on fingerprints that this guy is in your jail, in the country illegally, and you don't allow us access to them, is that not harboring—is that not concealing?
I want law enforcement to work with law enforcement like what the 9/11 commission decided… that law enforcers communicate with each other. We worked with law enforcement for decades. It's only the last few years that this has become such an issue because of the ACLU and the open border agenda people.
So, I would like law enforcement to uphold the oath they took to protect their communities. People need to educate themselves and talk to your county or state attorney about the Immigration Nationality Act. They will learn that there is no criminal warrant process for the administrative arrest of an illegal alien. It doesn't exist. A U.S. magistrate is not going to give any ICE agent a criminal arrest warrant to arrest somebody for an administrative violation—it's not going to happen. The only time you'll get a criminal arrest warrant is if you're going to prosecute them criminally, and we're not going to prosecute one million people for entering the country illegally. That is the system that Congress set up and it is lawful.
The Fifth Circuit has ruled less than a year ago that the immigration detainer is constitutional and legal. Now, it's going to be fought out, I'm sure, in the Supreme Court, but until then I tell everyone to be sure when you read that detainer, read the whole detainer. If you don't want to hold for the 48 hours because you feel uncomfortable about that and maybe feel like you're taking on liability, I get it. However, the detainer also says just call us before you release them. Sheriffs say well, we want the immigrant community to trust us-that we want them to report crimes and have victims and witnesses to come forward—that's fine because unless you're arresting a victim or witness and putting them in your county jail, we don't know they exist. All we want is access to your jail. We don't care about your criminal case. We don’t want the victim or the witnesses. We want the criminal that you locked up in your jail.
You bring up sheriffs and you recently expressed your displeasure with Sheriff Gary McFadden of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina for releasing a convicted child rapist who had an ICE detainer. What violation of law did he commit and what repercussions can happen to him?
He knows releasing a public safety threat back into the public when you don't have to is ignorance of his responsibility in office—it’s ignorance of the oath he took as a law enforcement officer. Cops that don’t want to work with cops stopped being a cop when they made that decision. When you choose to make a solely political decision over one of public safety, you stopped being a cop. Cops believe in the enforcement of the law. They don’t prevent other cops from doing their sworn duty to enforce the law. It’s that simple.
Look I've seen a lot of terrible things in my 34 years. I've talked to hundreds of Angel moms and Angel dads out there whose children have been killed by people that were released from sanctuary city jails. The vast majority of sheriffs in this country work with us, and the ones that don't made a conscious choice not to for political reasons. Sheriff McFadden stopped being a law enforcement officer when he became a politician and turned his back on the community at the expense of U.S. citizens and taxpayers who shouldn't have to be put in that position.
There's this perception from the media that women and children, mostly children are being detained in cages or not detained properly or with adult men, can you tell us about this?
Politicians refuse to listen to the experts until it's too late. Now when you have a border patrol station built for 400 detainees and now you have 800 families, what do they expect is going to happen? Border Patrol stations are nor designed to house vulnerable populations like families. They are jails. So this whole detention conditions and facility issues are the fault of Congress’ inaction after numerous warnings by the President, the Secretary, and the Chief Patrol Agent. I have also been warning Congress about this growing crisis and our inability to provide the care for children in a jail setting. We begged them to close the loopholes causing this. We begged them for more money so HHS could contract more beds in appropriate designed facilities. When they were finally forced to fund the needs; the families were quickly moved within 48 hours to an HHS facility.
Remove your position, your life experience, and your career and as a dad tell us are the children being treated fairly, are they being taken care of?
OK, everybody wants to talk about how children are treated. They talk about the children in HHS custody, right? And they say that they don't think they are treated well. I've been to those facilities and they are very good. They were designed for children. They are run by licensed daycare specialist.
They talked about how terrible it is to separate children. But U.S. citizens get separated every day from their children. If you're driving home tonight and get a DUI with your child in the backseat, you're going to get separated. It's unfortunate and it's sad but that doesn't mean we don't do the job. The parents are being criminally prosecuted. That's what happens. They can't go to lock up with them but all that kind of talk is about 2,500 children. No one talked about the 14,000 children in HHS custody that came to the country in the hands of a criminal organization because their parents residing here in the United States chose to hire a criminal organization to smuggle their child in the trunk of a car or the back of tractor-trailer. That's inhumane, right? But no one talks about that? I've seen many dead children in my career, and as a father it affects me to this day. The blame belongs on the parent that put their family in that position to violate our laws rather than standing in line like millions do every year. We welcome millions of immigrants to this country every year, the legal way. These parents cheated the system and in doing so put their children at great risk. The rest of the blame belongs to Congress who has refused closing the loopholes that cause these people to come. Other Democrats keep talking about abolishing ICE, giving free medical care to illegal aliens, getting rid of private detention, giving illegal aliens drivers licenses and in-state college tuition and they wonder why they keep coming?
A lot of illegal immigrants state shop for driver's licenses. What would you say to the people who say let them have a driver’s license, let them come out of the shadows because when somebody crosses the border if they're not detained, or if they're not caught, they're pretty much a ghost.
First of all, it’s slippery slope when you normalize the illegal behavior because this brings more illegal behavior. You now have people running for the president of the United States—I never thought my career I’d see everybody on the stage running for president raise their hand to give illegals free medical. Yeah, free medical. Yeah. Holy shit. I got that they can't afford medical insurance. But if you offer free medical insurance, you're going to have every illegal alien in the world that has a medical condition rushing into California or New York, because you normalize illegal behavior, which is going to bring more and when you bring more of that, more women will be raped and more children will die at the hands of the criminal cartels… You have to stop enticing them. Look at the governor of California. He's got veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war on the streets. They need help and the governor is ignoring them—the homeless population—while wanting to bring more illegals in and give them free medical insurance. How about taking care of our homeless veterans first?
Look, I'm all for helping the world best we can but let's not forget these congresspersons like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and all the rest of them that leave the Capitol every day and they see the same stuff I see every day—all these people on the street, many veterans of armed services living on the streets and they take a blind eye to that. They should spend more time taking care of that than attacking the men and women of law enforcement—the men and women of ICE. Instead they are enticing more illegal aliens to come here while not addressing the crisis on the border. How about taking care of the veterans? How about taking care of our veterans before you take care of people that enter this country illegally in violation of our laws. Like I said, you can't be a part of greatest country on earth and not respect our laws. What angers me is that these politicians talk a good talk, but they don't walk the walk. They certainly don't show me that and you know Chuck Schumer he voted for more border barriers numerous times, but a reversal now? You can’t tell me that's not a political move.
Instead they go after the president with their hatred toward our president. Why him? Because he's not in the club. He's a guy that came from outside of the swamp— outside the politics, and he doesn't do things the way they want to do it. I’ve spent many meetings with the President. He's not a racist. He's a guy who wants to fix this country. He's a guy who really wants to secure the border because he understands that there's no downside of a secured border. Yet, the president is attacked every day. His family is attacked every day. It's disgusting when it's elected representatives doing this.
I respect this President and what he's trying to do for this country, you know, he's trying to get people to stand up and not kneel for the national anthem. He respects law enforcement and he's trying to uphold his promises like most presidents make but they don't keep. He’s the right guy for the right job and at the right time.
The president is pushing to name ANTIFA domestic terrorists. With that being said, you recently made reference to an incident in Tacoma, Washington where the Federal Detention Center was fired on. Do you see a possible civil war in this country 5 to 20 years from now?
I don't think it's going to get that bad. As long as we keep doing what we’re doing … but you have people like AOC saying the kids are in concentration camps with no basis of truth to it. If people would take the time to educate themselves, they’d say holy cow, my tax money is going to that? That is because they would see we have the highest detention standards in the industry.
It’s a domestic terrorist act when you try to burn down a federal facility with 1400 people inside. It’s a domestic terrorist attack when you riddle an ICE office with bullets missing an officer by inches. There's no other word for it and I haven't seen one Democratic leader of the House or the Senate come out against the attacks. There's a lot of hate rhetoric over on the left. Why is nobody, especially all those running for president—those that want to abolish the agency and vilify ICE come out and say we can't do this—we have to stop attacking. Have you heard anybody say it? No, of course not. They won't and that's why I get upset because it's a political game. They know it's wrong. They know trying to burn down ICE facilities is wrong. They know that shooting up an ICE office is wrong and they know they're wrong deep in their heart. They know we have to have a system of legal and illegal immigration. We have to have a secure border, but they're putting that all aside for their political ambitions. It's all politics. That's what disgusts me and if they’d ever stood in the back of that tractor-trailer—that one day when I had 19 dead people at my feet, and smell what I smelled and saw what I saw, you know, you taste it and a 5-year-old dead little boy was held by his father. I have nightmares about it. I knelt beside that child. I just looked at him and I thought about what his last 30 minutes of life was like. How scared was he? How much did he suffer, and his father suffer? Can you imagine what his father was thinking those final minutes, that he put his child and himself in that position. The child died before the father according witnesses, so can you imagine what that father went through holding his dead son until he ultimately died, too?
No one wants to talk about that stuff. They don't want to talk about the truth. So we have to educate. I don't mean that as insulting anybody, but they don't know the backstory and that's why I’ve chosen to get out there and tell the backstory. It's just not about enforcing the laws, it’s about saving lives. I've done this for 34 years. I've seen some terrible things in my career—things I'll never forget.
And it's because we refuse to address illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime—never has been and never will be. I always tell a few stories of people I saw in my 34 years so they'd understand why I'm so emotional about this. I know you guys are police officers so you will understand. I found dead bodies all the time that were abandoned on the trail by the smuggler who once they got sick and they couldn’t make the trip, the smuggler didn't call 911. He did not look for help. He left them there to die because they weren't worth any money anymore. He wasn't getting paid for them.
On that note tell us a little bit about the positive things border patrol officers are doing?
Border Patrol saved over 4,000 lives last year. 4,000 of these are people that when they found them were in dire straits, they saved them. Many of those people would have died without the Border Patrol rescue efforts. So they saved many, many, lives. No one talks about that. They want to talk about the three or four children that died in custody, which is terrible. Let me make that clear. It's terrible. No one wants to see that, right? But I know the men and women, the paramedics and the staff we're trained for rescues, and they did everything they could have to try and save these kids.
But no one talks about the lives they save. Here are men and women—they're coming to work every day. They strap a gun to their hip, put the Kevlar vest on to do a job that no one else wants to do. We send them out there in harm’s way and we never say thank you. And we seem to ignore the fact that they put themselves in harm’s way for a little bit of money. None of them are getting rich while they're taking sicknesses home to their families—their kids, because we've had cases of TB, we’ve had cases of chicken pox and measles. That's not what they signed up for. They signed up to protect that border but so many are not on the border right now. So they're disillusioned, their morale is down, but they're still doing the job because they’re patriots.
But few are defending them, right? AOC is disgusting! She's a disgusting person for doing what she's doing. But she's not the only one and I still see men and women come to work this tough job every day. I did it for many years. It's a tough job. These are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters; they have their own kids they go home to. I know officers are bringing toys into the facilities to these children so they have something to play with. The facilities weren't built for families. So, they see them sitting in a cell—500 in a space for a hundred, so they're bringing in their own kids toys—they’re bringing snacks and stuff in, also because they are parents too. They’ve all seen terrible things. And they have to live with that and no one thinks about the mental toll on these men and women and it just irritates me.
Law enforcement officers in this country, whether you a city cop, county cop, state cop, tribal cop, or federal cop; are the finest one percent this nation has. Treat them like that. They are not asking or demanding any respect but they deserve it. That was the way it used to be when I was growing up. That’s the way it should be and we have a President that agrees.
Photo source page 26: By U.S. Customs and Border Protection - Acting Commissioner McAleen and POTUS Tour Southwest Border, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62042626
Photo source page 30: Thomas Homan hosts a press briefing to update the media on progress of "Operation Raging Bull" at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., Nov. 15, 2017. U.S. Customs and Border Protection. photo by Glenn Fawcett. https://www.flickr.com/photos/cbpphotos/38412580036