The head of the U.S. government’s lead immigration enforcement agency said Tuesday that he will devote more resources to arresting criminal aliens in sanctuary cities, focusing attention on interior operations as illegal crossings at the southern border continue falling.
Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told the Washington Examiner that the Trump administration has empowered law enforcement to strictly enforce immigration laws, a welcome change from previous administrations he has worked under during his 30-year career as an immigration cop.
“Now they have meaning to their jobs,” Homan said, referring to U.S. Border Patrol and ICE agents. “What this president has done is taken the handcuffs off of law enforcement officers who are charged with enforcing immigration laws.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE — ICE Director Stares Down MS-13: ‘My Gang Is Bigger Than Theirs’)
Homan noted that, since President Donald Trump took office, illegal border crossings have fallen to their lowest level in a decade. Despite a slight uptick in border arrests — a proxy for illegal immigration — illegal crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border in June were 53 percent lower than in the same month last year, a result Homan attributed to Trump’s orders on immigration enforcement. (RELATED: Arrests Of Illegal Aliens At Southwest Border Jump 9%, Remain Well Below 2016 Level)
As fewer illegal immigrants try to cross the southern border, ICE is turning its attention to those who are incarcerated in jails, illegally working jobs and at large in the interior of the country. While the agency is not planning specific operations involving sanctuary cities, more manpower will be devoted to cases where the local jurisdiction doesn’t turn criminal aliens over to immigration agents, an ICE official told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“As Director Homan stated, uncooperative jurisdictions have a higher rate of criminal alien releases than in places that honor ICE detainers,” the official said. “As a result, ICE is forced to focus additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the field in these non-cooperative areas.”
Homan argued that sanctuary cities are actually endangering illegal immigrants by forcing ICE agents to track them down in the places where they live or work rather than in jail.
“I’m going to arrest him and anybody else with him because there is no population off the table any more,” Homan said, referring to Trump’s expanded deportation net. “So if you really want to tap down the fear in the immigrant community, I would think the counties would want me in their jails.”
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