June 29 (UPI) — Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan blamed Congress Friday for the family separations on the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday, on his final day in the job.
Homan is scheduled to retire on Saturday after 34 years of government service.
“We are enforcing the laws that [Congress] enacted and they want to vilify us for doing it,” Homan told the Fox News Channel Friday in response to a suggestion by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that ICE should be abolished and replaced, a concept that’s gaining momentum.
“We went up to [Capitol] Hill several months ago and told them what the loopholes were about the Flores settlement agreement,” he said, referring to a 1997 law about establishing government standards for immigrant detention. “We said, you can fix this.
“If we can fix the Flores settlement agreement, we can keep the families together in a family facility until they see the judge, but they failed to fix it.”
He also said Gillibrand neglected to mention ICE has arrested 5,000 criminal aliens in New York City and protects her home state’s northern border with Canada against opioid trafficking and other crimes.
“I’m not leaving this fight,” Homan said, adding he will be able to speak more freely after he leaves office.
ICE, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, has been controversial since “sanctuary cities” have been uncooperative in arresting illegal immigrants and aiding federal agents in removal proceedings.
In May, the agency came under greater fire when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said his department plans to prosecute “100 percent” of all migrants apprehended at the border, including first-time illegal entrants who arrived with children.
Homan has served as acting ICE director since January 30, 2017, when he replaced Daniel Ragsdale in the post. Ragsdale was Trump’s first ICE chief but was dismissed after only 10 days.