Actions taken by the Biden administration have created a “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants, shielding them from immigration enforcement across the nation, according to Tom Homan, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Aside from halting border wall construction, the administration issued a memo to temporarily suspend deportations of illegal aliens, a key aspect of ICE’s mandate. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the administration, and a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the executive order; the judge’s suspension of the order has now been extended indefinitely as the case continues to play out in court.
The Department of Homeland Security also has issued new guidelines for ICE agents that prohibit them from apprehending a large proportion of the illegal alien population unless agents first get permission from their field office leadership.
“What Joe Biden and this administration has done is made our whole nation a sanctuary city,” Homan told The Epoch Times.
He said deportation relies on detention—otherwise, illegal aliens tend to abscond.
“That’s why there’s 672,000 fugitives who’ve been ordered removed and haven’t left, and they can’t be found,” he said.
Homan, who worked under the Obama–Biden administration during the 2014 and 2015 border surge, said detention was a key factor.
“We stopped it by building detention facilities and detaining people until they saw a judge. So he forgot all the lessons learned, and now, he’s trying to stop detention,” Homan said.
“The [administration] is turning immigration law enforcement on its head.”
Homan said ICE’s new priorities, which narrow the agency’s focus to illegal aliens with aggravated felony convictions, still wouldn’t capture that population in sanctuary cities. ICE tries to gain custody of illegal aliens in jail settings to reduce risk and resources.
Instead, sanctuary cities often release illegal immigrant criminals back into communities without communicating with ICE. In those cities, local and state politicians have introduced policies that prohibit law enforcement from cooperating with ICE, when the agency asks them to hold a subject to transfer custody.
Homan said it’s “meaningless” for the Biden administration to say public safety threats are a priority when they haven’t done anything about sanctuary cities.
“Sanctuary cities … have been releasing sexual offenders every day for the past several years. They’re not going to change,” Homan said.
The ICE Alerts Twitter account hasn’t posted since Jan. 21, 2021, the first full day of the new administration. The account was previously used to post notices about illegal immigrant fugitives who were wanted for crimes against children, rape, assault, weapons charges, and many more.
Most of the posts highlight aliens who were released from jails in sanctuary cities such as New York, San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago.
Before the new changes, Homan said ICE had already prioritized public safety threats.
In fiscal year 2020, the agency removed almost 186,000 individuals, of which 92 percent had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges, according to ICE’s end-of-year report.
ICE also conducted more than 103,000 interior arrests, about 90 percent of which had a criminal conviction or charge. Those arrested included aliens with criminal charges or convictions for 1,837 homicide offenses, 37,247 assault offenses, and 10,302 sexual assault or sex offenses.
“Every crime committed by an illegal alien is a preventable crime,” Homan said. “If we had true border security, true immigration enforcement … thousands of crimes every day could be prevented—because they’re not here.”