The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday advocated for the arrest of local and state government officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents.
“This is a victimization of the American community,” Thomas Homan told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. “This isn’t the America I grew up in. We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on. We’ve got to take them to court, and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes.”
While there’s no strict legal definition a “sanctuary” city or state, Homan, who President Donald Trump has nominated to serve as ICE’s formal director, was responding to California’s SB54, which went into effect on Jan. 1.
The law, like many on the local level nationwide, limits police officers’ ability to detain suspected undocumented immigrants on federal agents’ behalf. The bill’s author, Senate Leader Kevin de Leon, said it would put “a large kink in Trump’s perverse and inhuman deportation machine.”
On Tuesday, Homan said that transnational drug cartels “are using this sanctuary state law as a selling point.”
“We’re going to vastly increase our enforcement footprint in the state of California,” he said. “We’re going to be all over the place, and we’re going to enforce the law without apology.”
He continued: “What I’m also doing is working with the Department of Justice. For these sanctuary cities that knowingly shield and harbor an illegal alien in their jail and don’t allow us access, that is, in my opinion, a violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324, that’s an alien smuggling statue. I’ve asked the Department of Justice to look at this. Are these sanctuary cities — Can we hold them accountable, are they violating federal law?”
“What if they do just that, what do you do?” Cavuto asked.
“I think we charge some of these sanctuary cities with violating federal law,” Homan said. “I think if they knowingly harbor and shield a known illegal alien, a public safety threat, in a jail and won’t give us access.”
He added later in the interview that the Department of Justice should withhold funding from sanctuary jurisdictions. But the federal government’s ability to act on that threat has been tied up by various courts in recent months. In November, a District Court judge in California became the latest to block enforcement of an executive order by President Donald Trump that would prevent certain federal funds from reaching sanctuary cities.
And Texas’ SB4 — which, among other things, threatened that public officials could face arrest or financial penalty for refusing to cooperate with federal immigration agents — has only partially gone into effect as a lawsuit from several Texas cities proceeds in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Homan said President Trump “absolutely” shared his position.
Watch the interview below:
H/t The Hill