At a time when San Antonio is leading a coalition of big Texas cities to sue over the newly-signed sanctuary city law, the head of Immigration Customs Enforcement urged Congress to support the plan, which he says makes the job safer for his agents, who are tracking down undocumented migrants.
"If I had access to county jails, and people honored my detainers, I could arrest people in the safety and security of the county jail, but since I can't, I have to go into neighborhoods," Acting ICE director Thomas Homan told a Congressional hearing this week.
Police chiefs from big Texas cities, including San Antonio's Chief William McManus blasted the sanctuary city law, saying it makes their job harder. The fear is that migrants will not come forward to report a crime. They fear it would keep immigrants in the shadows.
Homan says, under the Trump White House, his agents have been freed up to target both criminal aliens and those who have had their asylum case rejected by a judge.
"If you're violating the law, you should be uncomfortable," he told the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. "The IRS doesn’t want to audit everybody, but we all know it's a possibility. The highway patrol can’t arrest everybody for speeding, but if we speed, we know it's a possibility we can get stopped. It should be no different with immigration enforcement."
Director Homan received pushback from democratic congress members, who feel the department should be using discretion when it comes to immigration enforcement. Instead of targeting all eleven million undocumented migrants, they felt that ICE agents should focus on criminal aliens.
It's a policy that Homan said sends the wrong message."When you start taking entire populations off the table, you destroy the foundation of law enforcement," he pleaded.
"If we don’t hold people accountable for entering this country illegally, then what are we all doing?"