Only the misinformed want to abolish ICE


October 3, 2020

By Tom Homan

For almost three years we have all heard the battle cries from the left to “Abolish ICE.”  I heard it when I was the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and I still hear it in retirement. These verbal and increasingly physical attacks on law enforcement are dangerous to the stability of our nation and need to stop immediately.

Hundreds stood in front of the ICE headquarters building in Washington, D.C., chanting to abolish ICE, and I heard it from about 80 protesters that showed up at my home on a Sunday. Just this past week protesters were arrested in New York and Portland chanting the same old theme. 

I know these people are wasting their time because ICE isn’t going anywhere. The ICE mission is too important to the safety and security of our country. That is something else that those protesters don’t understand.

Even members of Congress have called to abolish ICE, which is the ultimate insult — since ICE is only enforcing the laws that they wrote and enacted. ICE is doing exactly what Congress told them to do in the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Homeland Security Act, both enacted by Congress.

Certain members of Congress have used terms like racist, Nazis and Gestapo for ICE officers. Such terms have been voiced — or implied — by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Same things were said by Rep. Yvette Clark (D-N.Y.) and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.).

I could cite more names, but it is pointless because their opinions are meaningless. They are clearly ignorant of what ICE actually does. If ICE officers and agents are racists for enforcing the law, what does that make Congress? They created those laws.

The last time I testified before Congress, I made the statement to House Democrats that I have never seen such hatred of a law enforcement agency by members of Congress in my entire career of nearly 35 years. The attacks and vilification of officers and agents are unprecedented. The world has been turned upside down when the bad guys are now the “victims” and law enforcement is now the bad guys.

Little did I know at the time I made that statement that their hatred was against all law enforcement. When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calls federal law enforcement officers storm troopers, it just empowers the criminals who riot and justifies their attacks against police. If the most powerful people in Congress can attack law enforcement officers, why can’t the rioters? This is what is happening, and it is extremely dangerous to our country and its citizens. 

This past year, ICE did an amazing job in protecting this nation. First, 79 percent of Joint Terrorism Task Force disruptions of terrorist activity in the U.S. were achieved with ICE involvement. A total of 11,974 visa applications were refused based on terrorist connections or derogatory information discovered by ICE. More than 3,600 pounds of fentanyl was seized that could have killed tens of thousands of Americans. A total of 3,886 gang members such as MS-13 were arrested and taken off our streets and 1,069 child exploitation victims were identified and rescued.

Four 428 victims of human trafficking were saved and assisted. More than $560 million of counterfeit and illicit goods were seized. There were a total of 5,750 human smuggling criminal arrests. In all, there were 37,547 total criminal arrests. This is great success and hardly an agency that any law-abiding citizen should want abolished. I doubt any of those members of Congress or protesters know about any of these achievements.

When it comes to immigration enforcement, ICE arrested 123,128 aliens with criminal histories within the interior of the U.S. As a matter of fact, 86 percent of administrative arrests were of aliens with criminal convictions or pending criminal charges. When many Democrats in Congress and others say ICE is just arresting aliens indiscriminately with no prioritization, they obviously are not looking at the data. ICE is actually prioritizing arrests today better that it did under the Obama administration, but you likely will never hear that from many in Congress or many in the media.

ICE continues to carry out its public safety mission with limited resources, and as a result, many of those arrested have multiple convictions. The 123,128 aliens arrested represented a total of 489,063 crimes committed. Even with the “controversial” responsibility of immigration enforcement, it can be easily seen that arresting these people has a significant impact of public safety and safer neighborhoods.

Those arrests include thousands of robberies, sexual assaults, weapons offenses, dangerous drug offenses and homicides. Those are the facts, and the left wants to abolish a law enforcement agency that does all this to keep the public safe?

What remains to be done is for ICE to receive additional resources so they can fully enforce the immigration laws of this country. There is no prerequisite that says someone here illegally must commit yet another crime to be arrested. Entering this country illegally is a crime, full stop. Unless we also enforce the administrative violations of immigration law, there remain very few consequences for entering this county illegally, even if you behave after getting here.

Without deterrence and consequences, we will never achieve true border security. 

Those who intentionally and knowingly enter this country in violation of our laws show disrespect for this country. There must be consequences including arrest and removal for these actions. That’s the way it needs to be, both for the future of our country and the safety of its residents today.

Tom Homan is the former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a senior fellow at the Immigration Reform Law Institute.

Also published at: Tom Homan, Only the misinformed want to abolish ICE, The Hill, October 3, 2020.

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