ICE Chief Tries to Smear Sanctuary Cities but Drowns in His Own Logic

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Thomas Homan, the acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, spoke to White House reporters on Thursday. His comments showed both the malice and the lack of logic behind the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant crusade.

Among other things, Homan said that ICE is fighting domestic gangs with a law enforcement “gang” of its own—an idea that’s definitely working out so far. Homan also railed against sanctuary cities, which he called a “criminal’s biggest friend,” for the proliferation of violent gangs like MS-13 stateside.


“Sanctuary cities only make it more difficult, if not impossible to remove gang members,” he said. “Together, our gang is bigger than theirs.”

He also denied that the Trump administration is indiscriminately rounding up victims and witnesses to crimes in courthouses, saying vaguely that ICE is not looking “to arrest a victim of a crime, we’re looking to arrest the bad guy”—even though one of the key points of sanctuary cities is to allow people to come forward and report crimes without fear of reprisal.


When asked about a case in El Paso, TX, where an undocumented transgender woman was arrested at the courthouse after getting a protective order against her domestic abuser—in other words, doing exactly what Homan said was the right thing—Homan cautioned the reporter that he “obviously” didn’t know the full facts of the case, calling it a “solid,” “public safety arrest” that’s currently “in litigation.”

Asked by another reporter how ICE officers determine whether an undocumented person is indeed a member of a violent international crime syndicate, the ICE director said, “We don’t arrest people for the way they look,” and disputed media reports that said arrests have been made based on “tattoos and clothing.” He said this while flanked by large photos of alleged gang members’ tattoos.

Homan’s comments grew wilder and wilder as the briefing went on. He closed out by telling an anecdote about an “alien” who was brought into the country covered in duct tape, with only a straw to breathe through, apparently as evidence that we need to make it even harder for people to escape violence and extreme poverty in their native countries.