Former ICE Chief Slams Maryland for Sanctuary Legislation

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 31, 2019 Updated: April 2, 2019

WASHINGTON—Tom Homan, the former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said politicians who enact sanctuary policies on the premise of protecting immigrant communities end up doing the complete opposite.

“Because if ICE can get the bad guy in a county jail, it’s done and it’s over,” Homan told The Epoch Times on March 14.

“But when they release a bad guy from the county jail … now, ICE has to go find that guy, which means they’re going to go into the community … where they’re probably going to find others, others that weren’t even on their radar. Number two, when you release a criminal alien back to the street, he’s going to reoffend in the very community in which he lives—the immigrant community.”

A raft of bills being considered in the Maryland legislature would essentially turn the state into a sanctuary for illegal aliens by shielding them from immigration enforcement.

One bill, House Bill 913 (HB 913), goes so far as to prohibit local and state jail officials from cooperating with a detainer lodged by ICE.

A detainer is a request for an illegal alien to be held until an ICE agent can take custody, or for the jail to notify ICE when an illegal alien is to be released from custody. Under HB 913, ICE would instead have to produce a federal judicial warrant. Both require probable cause, but a judicial warrant requires a judge to sign off.

The bill would also prevent correctional officers from supplying ICE with the address of a person released from jail and their time of release, said Maryland House Delegate David Moon, a Democrat and HB 913 sponsor.

“However, they would not restrict ICE from accessing this information,” Moon said. “I do not consider this as a sanctuary bill.”

Fifty-six Democrats co-sponsored the bill.

sanctuary border security
ICE carries out a gang operation in Baltimore, Md., in this file photo. (ICE)

“I dare any of these politicians to go to the immigrant community and ask them this one simple question: ‘Where would you rather have ICE operating—in our county jail or in your neighborhood?’ What do you think they’re going to say?” Homan said.

“You can’t say ‘prioritize criminals, but we’re going to be a sanctuary and you can’t come in our jail.’ You can’t say it both ways. It just don’t make sense.”

In fiscal 2018, ICE arrested more than 138,000 aliens with criminal histories. Of all arrests made, 87 percent were of convicted criminals or those with pending criminal charges.

Most alien criminals are picked up in jails, but, increasingly, ICE has had to operate in the community as more sanctuaries emerge.

California paved the way in 2018 when it enacted sweeping sanctuary legislation, but at least 180 cities and counties across the country have similar policies.

Other states that have sanctuary policies include Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont—some of which simply state they won’t honor any ICE detainer requests, according to a map and list on the Center for Immigration Studies website.

For ICE, access to jails and being told when criminal aliens are about to be released are matters of safety and efficiency. The agency has 6,000 agents in the country to find and remove immigration violators, especially criminals, gang members, and potential terrorists.

“It’s simple math. It’s operational necessity. Because one officer can sit in a county jail and process 10 criminal aliens a day,” Homan said. “But when you release those 10 criminal aliens a day, now we’ve got to send a whole team … to arrest somebody on their turf, who has access to who-knows-what weapons. So we’ve got to send a lot more agents in that area to do the same job a few used to do in the county jail. So it doesn’t make sense.”

sanctuary border security
ICE arrests a man in Baltimore, Md., on Aug. 6, 2015. (ICE)

Detective Nick Rogers said Denver adopted sanctuary policies in October 2017.

“We were informed that if we communicated with ICE, we were subject to discipline, up to and including termination,” Rogers said in a congressional hearing last year. “We were also told that if we violated the ordinance, we were subject to criminal prosecution and would be fined up to $999 and a term of incarceration not to exceed 300 days in jail.”

Rogers said he can now no longer contact the same ICE agents he has worked with for years. ICE agents are now only granted the same access as the general public to city-owned law enforcement facilities. Rogers said he used to have a briefing with the ICE agents in his office to go over tactical plans for drug arrests involving illegal aliens.

“Those ICE agents were welcomed in the front door,” he said. “They don’t even come in the parking lot anymore.”

MS-13 in Maryland

Maryland is a hotbed for the violent transnational gang MS-13, which ICE is tasked with dismantling.

A 19-year-old known MS-13 gang member was charged with the gruesome murder of a man in Montgomery County late last year.

Miguel Angel Lopez-Abrego, along with nine other MS-13 members, stabbed the victim more than 100 times, decapitated and dismembered him, and ripped his heart out before throwing him into a grave in Wheaton Regional Park, court documents said.

In another case, Maryland MS-13 member Raul Ernesto Landaverde-Giron was sentenced in August last year to two consecutive life sentences for a laundry list of violent crimes, including murder. Landaverde-Giron earned a promotion within the gang for his participation in the murder.

Evidence presented at the trial showed that MS-13 members planned and committed numerous crimes, including murders and attempted murders in Prince George’s and Frederick counties between 2012 and 2016, according to the DOJ. Gang members also extorted from owners of illegal businesses, among other crimes.

The majority of MS-13 gang members are in the country illegally and many enter as unaccompanied minors on the southern border.

On March 22, Border Patrol agents in Texas arrested a Salvadoran national after he entered the United States illegally. They discovered he was an MS-13 gang member with a prior arrest for theft in Maryland.

On March 24, Border Patrol discovered that a Honduran national traveling with a 3-year-old child had a prior conviction for rape in the second degree in Baltimore.

sanctuary border security
ICE agents prepare for an operation in Baltimore, Md., in this file photo. (ICE)

Sanctuary Effect

Homan said that once California’s sanctuary policies went into full effect, he saw a change.

“I noticed that there’s case after case after case of criminal illegal aliens released from jails across California who didn’t notify us before the release,” he said. “Many of them reoffend. Half of them will reoffend in the first year; up to 75 percent will reoffend within five years.”

Homan cited a recent murder in San Jose. Known gang member Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza allegedly killed a 58-year-old woman in her home on Feb. 28. Nine prior detainers lodged by ICE had been ignored by local officials.

‘If they would have honored our detainer, that person would have been out of this country and unable to murder that [woman],” Homan said. “All we’re asking is: Before you release him, call us. We may be interested in him, especially if he’s in the country illegally. That’s all we’re asking for. They don’t have to hold them a minute past what they would normally hold them.”

He said Maryland, as with what happened to California, would result in having more ICE agents assigned to the state if the sanctuary policies become law.

A committee vote on HB 913 hasn’t yet been scheduled, but if it passes, it would move to the House floor for a full vote before advancing to the Senate.

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.