Thomas Homan, Deputy Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), spoke with the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) today, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as an anti-immigrant hate group, during which he ignored questions about his decision to speak with the group and repeatedly defended ICE agents against criticism.
This morning, Homan sat down with CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan to speak against sanctuary cities, claiming that sanctuary policies actually place immigrant communities in danger of violent crime, and to defend ICE from criticism by claiming that ICE agents were simply enforcing the laws. CIS was added to SPLC’s list of hate groups for its track record of publishing white nationalist content, giving bylines to anti-Semitic authors, and its attempts to portray a majority of immigrants as criminals.
Congressman Joseph Crowley of New York sent a letter to Homan urging him to cancel his plans to speak with the group. “It is highly inappropriate for a senior official of a federal agency to engage with a group that spreads such abhorrent viewpoints, including white supremacism and anti-Semitism and I urge you to immediately retract your plans to speak,” Crowley wrote to Homan. The Department of Homeland Security defended Homan’s plans to speak with CIS as “a valuable opportunity for productive civil discourse and a healthy debate.”
CIS has received a warm welcome from the Trump White House when attempting to lobby for its anti-immigrant agenda. Earlier this year, Trump cited research published by CIS to back up his demands that the federal government constructs a southern border wall.
At the end of his talk with CIS, Homan took a minute to defend ICE agents, who have recently undergone scrutiny as heartbreaking videos and reports of outrageous behavior from agents have repeatedly made the news.
“I’m asking for people to sit back and look at this issue and stop attacking the men and women who work the front lines. They’re doing the job they took an oath to do to defend this nation and it’s unfortunate that they be called names,” Homan said.
Homan went on to deny that ICE separates families and said “you can’t attack law enforcement for simply enacting [sic] the law. If you think ICE is racist, is Congress racist because they enacted these laws? Think about that for a minute.”
While Homan was leaving the event, he ignored protesters outside who asked him if he knew about the history of the group with whom he had just spoken.
On camera, one activist’s voice can be heard asking, “Sir, are you aware that you just met a group that’s known to be founded by a eugenicist?” while Homan’s team rushed him into a vehicle.