Former Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan delivered an impassioned speech that defended federal immigration officers during a House hearing on July 12, saying that Congress and media are to blame for the “unprecedented attack and vilification” agents face amid the crisis at the southern border.
“These men and women who chose a life of service to this nation deserve better not only from the media but from those the community and other members of Congress. These men and women who chose a life of service deserve more,” Homan said during his opening statement (pdf) during the House Oversight Committee hearing on the alleged treatment of illegal immigrants at the border.
Former ICE director Homan blasts “unprecedented attack and vilification of men and women of the border patrol” by members of Congress and the media at border hearing.
Asks if members have “ever had to console the small child or a spouse of a fallen officer.”
— Nate Madden (@NateOnTheHill) July 12, 2019
During his remarks, Homan said border agents are “working in an extremely difficult environment” due to the unprecedented surge of illegal immigrants into the United States in recent months.
“As a 34 year veteran of law enforcement, it is shocking, shocking to see the constant attacks against those that leave the safety and security of their homes and their families every day, put on a Kevlar vest and put a gun on their hip and risk their own safety to defend this nation,” he said.
He also criticized recent comments made by Congress members who accused, without evidence, border patrol agents of “inhumane treatment” at some of the U.S. border detention facilities.
“Those that attack the professional integrity of those that serve and blatantly throw unsubstantiated allegations against these men and women with zero evidence of guilt are wrong and should be ashamed,” Homan said, without identifying the Congress members he was referring to.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) made the allegations in a social media post on July 1 after visiting a facility in El Paso, Texas. One of the most serious claims she made include officers telling detainees to drink water out of the toilet bowl.
Many current and former agents denied the allegations following her remarks, however, during the July 12 hearing, the freshman congresswoman stood by her earlier comments.
“Most of these allegations will be found untrue after extensive investigations but it’s too late when that happens. The damage has been done. The Agency is tarnished and the spirit of the men and women that serve are many times broken and their morale is at all times low,” Homan said.
“They have to wake up every day and see the news reports and comments from representatives in Congress that they are Nazis, white supremacist, that they operate concentration camps, that they knowingly abuse women and children,” he added.
The former acting ICE chief then continued to remind the Congress members that the agents are emotionally impacted by the crisis at the border.
“They think they no longer have a heart or care about other people. ICE Agents and Border Patrol Agents are moms and dads too. They have children,” Homan said. “What they see every day with this unprecedented surge of children and families effects them deeply and emotionally. It is something they have to deal with every day and will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
“Over one-half of Border Patrol Agents are of Latin decent and to say that they abuse those from Central America with no evidence of abuse is just plain wrong and insulting to them that endure this crisis each and every day,” he added.
He also pointed out that border patrol agents saved more than 4,000 lives last year and how it was “disheartening” to see that it had not been mentioned during the hearing.
“Over 4000 people that were found by the Border Patrol in dire straits and may have perished if it wasn’t for the heroic efforts of these agents,” he said. “No one talks about how these men and women bring toys from their own homes and from their own children to these facilities so the migrant children would have something to play with. No one talks about the sicknesses of these migrants and how these agents take that sickness home to their own families because of that exposure.”
Moreover, he also said Congress has “more interest in getting to an open borders agenda and resisting our President, than in securing our border.”
“There’s no downside on having a secure border; there is no downside on having less illegal immigration; there’s no downside on less illegal drugs coming into this country; there’s no downside in stopping the bankrolling of criminal cartels in Mexico that smuggle both people and drugs,” he said, during the statement. “I don’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat, you should want to secure our border.”
“These agents deserve better from their representatives in Congress,” Homan concluded.
Watch the full hearing here: