Former ICE Chief: Senate Vote a ‘Morale-Killer’ for Border Patrol and ICE

By Charlotte Cuthbertson
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Senior Reporter
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.
March 14, 2019 Updated: April 2, 2019

WASHINGTON—Tom Homan, former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hit out at the 12 Republican senators who voted to terminate President Donald Trump’s national border emergency on March 14.

“It’s a morale-killer for the Border Patrol and for ICE,” Homan told The Epoch Times. “I don’t think these 12 senators understand how important border security is to this country. They say they support border security, but their talk is talk, they need to walk the walk.”

He challenged the 12 senators to “wear the uniform and stand on that border for a week, then come back and say a wall’s not needed.”

The 12 Republicans that joined all 47 Democrats to pass the measure are Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Miss.), and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

border security
A Border Patrol agent walks by the Rio Grande, which is the international border between the United States and Mexico, in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Feb. 7, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Homan said Republicans in both the House and Senate have failed the president for the last two years.

“So once again, the president’s got to go out on his own. He’s going to veto this—which he should do,” he said.

Trump has said he would “100 percent” veto the resolution, which could then only be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress.

Trump declared the national emergency on Feb. 15, the same day that he signed a spending bill in which Congress failed to approve the full $5.7 billion he was requesting for more border wall. Instead, Congress approved just less than $1.4 billion.

Through the national emergency, Trump could free up more than $8 billion in funding from other sources, such as the Department of Defense and the U.S. Treasury to allocate to around 700 miles of border fencing.

Homan said he keeps going back to the national emergency that former President Barack Obama declared on swine flu in 2009, when just over 12,000 people died.

“Over 70,000 people have died from drug overdoses, from fentanyl coming across that southern border. So if 12,000 is a national emergency, why isn’t 70,000?” Homan said. More than 71,500 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017, with at least 68 percent of those deaths attributed to opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Epoch Times Photo
Local police and paramedics help a man who is overdosing in the Drexel neighborhood of Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 3, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

In the past six months, Border Patrol apprehensions on the southern border have reached twice what they were in all of fiscal year 2017. In February alone, 66,000 people were apprehended crossing the border illegally, with another 10,000 presenting without documentation at ports of entry.

“At the current pace, we are on track to encounter close to one million illegal aliens at our southern border this year,”  Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told the House Homeland Security Committee on March 6.

Homan said the current numbers of illegal border crossers are outrageous.

“The Democratic leadership in the House, didn’t want to support the border wall at all, the border barrier. So the president is doing what he can to secure our nation,” Homan said. “He’s doing his job to try to protect the American people, so if that means he’s got to go against Congress [then] God bless him for it.”

Charlotte Cuthbertson
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Senior Reporter
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.