The nation’s top immigration enforcement officer announced he will retire from the agency he served for 34 years. The outgoing director said leading the immigration enforcement agency has been “the honor of my life.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan announced Monday that he will retire as the nation’s top immigration law enforcement officer. Homan is to retire in June, although a specific date has not been released.
“It has been the honor of my life to lead the men and women of ICE for more than a year,” Director Homan said in a written statement provided to Breitbart Texas. “The decision to leave federal service after more than 34 years is bittersweet, but my family has sacrificed a lot in order for me to serve and it’s time for me to focus on them. I am humbled and inspired by the 20,000 American patriots who serve this agency and protect our nation, increasingly in the face of unfair and false criticism from politicians and the media.”
Homan planned to retire from ICE in January 2017, an ICE official told Breitbart Texas. However, then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly asked the immigration enforcement officer to stay on and accept an interim position as head of the agency until they could find a replacement. When the agency did not find a permanent replacement, the secretary asked him to accept the position in a permanent capacity.
President Trump appointed Homan to lead ICE during the early days of his administration but the Senate never voted on his confirmation. In November 2017, the president nominated him to permanently fill the position.
Homan told DHS officials earlier this year that he would move forward with his retirement because of family considerations, the ICE official told Breitbart Texas. The agency is in the process of finding a successor to Director Homan.
Since taking over the position, Director Homan engaged in an aggressive campaign to arrest illegal immigrants who committed other crimes since illegally entering the U.S., Breitbart Texas reported in February 2017. He has also cracked down on the transnational criminal gang known as MS-13.
During Fiscal Year 2017, ICE agents arrested nearly 5,000 gang members of which nearly 800 were MS-13 gang members and affiliates.
In January 2018, Director Homan came under fire from the left when he told Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto that the government should charge officials in sanctuary cities with violating federal law.
“I think we charge some of these sanctuary cities with violating federal law,” acting ICE Director Tom Homan said during an interview with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto on Tuesday. “This isn’t the America I grew up in. We gotta take these sanctuary cities on, we gotta take them to court and we gotta start charging some of these politicians with crimes.”
Homan’s comment came one day after the State of California officially became a sanctuary state. “California better hold on tight,” Homan stated. “They’re about to see a lot more special agents — a lot more deportation officers.”
A short time later, Director Homan made good on those claims and ramped up enforcement action in the sanctuary state of California, Breitbart California’s Michelle Moons reported.
In his retirement announcement, Homan referenced what he called “unfair and false criticism [of the agency] from politicians and the media.”
Shortly after ICE officers began targeted enforcement operations in Texas in the winter of 2017, media outlets began to report claims from community activists that the actions were designed to instill fear in the immigrant community, Breitbart Texas reported.
“Our community has seen an increase of ICE activity where we have heard ICE agents are going to people’s homes and detaining people,” Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, said, according to NBC News.
“I believe ICE is out in public arresting people in order to retaliate against our community for standing up for our values against people like Abbott and Trump,” Austin Councilman Casar posted on Facebook. “Trump and his allies will do everything they can to divide Americans, invoke fear in vulnerable neighborhoods, and demonize an entire community of people.”
ICE quickly countered the claims they called “false, dangerous, and irresponsible.”
“Reports of ICE checkpoints and sweeps are false, dangerous and irresponsible,” ICE officials wrote in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “These reports create mass panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger. Any groups falsely reporting such activities are doing a disservice to those they claim to support.”
While Homan announced he will be stepping down, the 34-year veteran immigration law enforcment officer said he will not be going away.
“Because of their tremendous dedication and hard work, we have made significant progress this past year in enforcing our nation’s immigration and customs laws, and in protecting public safety and national security,” Homan concluded. “I will continue to be a strong advocate for the workforce and for the ICE mission.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, GAB, and Facebook.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with information provided to Breitbart Texas by ICE officials.