MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh likened immigration agents to a criminal gang while Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), spoke at a White House briefing Thursday.
As Homan delivered an impassioned defense of the Trump administration’s crackdown on transnational criminal organizations and illegal immigration, Walsh referred to the law enforcement veteran as the “head of a violent gang.”
“Wow, the head of a violent gang is taking the podium at the White House,” she tweeted. “The head of ICE. Ask good questions please, WH press corps.”
Not only is Homan the leader of a criminal organization, Walsh said, but the gang he leads is America’s “deadliest”:
Homan was speaking at the beginning of the daily White House briefing to outline recent ICE enforcement operations against the violent MS-13 street gang. Taking questions from reporters, he stressed the need for tight cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents to dismantle gangs like MS-13 that operate across national borders.
“I cannot stress enough that operations are more effective with strong local partnerships,” Homan said.
Homan’s remarks come as the Trump administration seeks to turn up the pressure on sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Department of Justice will pull certain grants from jurisdictions that refuse honor ICE detainers, which are formal requests to local law enforcement to hold criminal aliens in jail for 48 hours so immigration agents have time to take them into custody. (RELATED: Sessions Targets Sanctuary Cities As He Faces Pressure From The White House)
Cities that refuse to honor immigration detention requests place both ICE agents and illegal immigrants in danger by forcing arrests to take place in dangerous, unpredictable circumstances instead of secure jail facilities, Homan said Thursday. The ICE chief also ripped sanctuary cities for encouraging risky human smuggling operations like the one that ended with the deaths of 10 illegal immigrants trapped in a sweltering semi-trailer in San Antonio last weekend. (RELATED: Vicious Mexican Drug Cartel Helped Smuggle Migrants To San Antonio)
Sanctuary cities “are a criminal’s best friend,” Homan said. “Smugglers use it as a part of their sales pitch.”
Walsh, the author of the 2013 book “What’s The Matter With White People?” on top of her gigs with MSNBC and The Nation, didn’t hide her feelings about Homan’s concern for his agents and potential victims of human smuggling. Responding to Twitter critics, Walsh doubled down on her earlier claims:
“They are brutalizing undocumented immigrants and dividing families,” she tweeted. “Proud of what I said.”
As for Walsh’s assertion that ICE is the deadliest gang in the U.S., a brief review of officer-involved shootings shows the claim to be false. This year, ICE agents have killed zero people in the course of arrest operations.
MS-13, by contrast, is responsible for at least 17 murders in just one New York county over the last 18 months, and dozens more throughout the country.
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