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In new letter to DHS Sec. Nielsen, Senator Murray and Democratic colleagues call for all documentation related to controversial nominee who leads Trump Administration’s mass deportation effort

Senators: Lack of Senate-confirmed ICE Director “hinders Congressional oversight and the efficient operation of the agency”

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and 16 senators sent a letter calling on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to immediately provide all documentation provided to the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee regarding Tom Homan, President Trump’s controversial nominee to head U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Mr. Homan has been acting as the agency’s director since January 30, 2017, and has presided over radical changes in DHS’ immigration enforcement practices and policies during his tenure. In the letter, the senators highlight that Mr. Homan’s nomination has been pending in the Senate for six months after requesting additional information on his nomination from DHS, a delay that hinders congressional oversight and raises questions about his ability to answer questions under oath about his leadership of the agency. 

ICE has been without a Senate-confirmed Director since the first day of the Trump Administration, more than 14 months.  President Trump took almost ten months to nominate Mr. Homan as ICE Director, a striking delay given the priority this Administration claims to place on immigration enforcement.  Mr. Homan’s nomination was referred to HSGAC on November 14, 2017, but we understand that DHS has not yet responded to the Committee’s request for information about the nomination,” the senators wrote. We understand that the Trump Administration may be concerned about Mr. Homan answering questions under oath about his leadership of ICE, as well as the possibility that Mr. Homan’s nomination could be defeated in the Senate.  However, the Senate is an independent branch of government and has a responsibility under the Constitution to provide its advice and consent on this nomination.”

Full text of the senators’ letter below:

April 27, 2018

 

The Honorable Kirstjen M. Nielsen

Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC  20528

 

Dear Secretary Nielsen:

We urge the Department of Homeland Security to immediately provide all documentation requested by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) regarding the nomination of Thomas Homan to be Assistant Secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) so that the Senate can consider Mr. Homan’s nomination without further delay.

ICE has been without a Senate-confirmed Director since the first day of the Trump Administration, more than 14 months.  President Trump took almost ten months to nominate Mr. Homan as ICE Director, a striking delay given the priority this Administration claims to place on immigration enforcement.  Mr. Homan’s nomination was referred to HSGAC on November 14, 2017, but we understand that DHS has not yet responded to the Committee’s request for information about the nomination.  Meantime, Mr. Homan has been performing the duties of ICE Director since January 30, 2017.  This potential violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 raises serious questions about the legality of Mr. Homan’s actions as the acting head of ICE.

The absence of a Senate-confirmed head of ICE for more than a year hinders Congressional oversight and the efficient operation of the agency and is troubling in any circumstance.  Moreover, it is completely unacceptable at a time when the Trump Administration is making radical – and in some cases possibly illegal – changes in immigration enforcement policies and practices.  To name a few examples, under Mr. Homan’s leadership, ICE has:

  • Greatly reduced the use of prosecutorial discretion and sharply increased arrests and detentions of immigrants with no criminal background instead of focusing ICE’s limited resources on those who pose a threat to our security;
  • Reportedly separated hundreds of children of asylum-seekers from their parents;
  • Reversed a policy of presumptive release for pregnant women; and
  • Reversed a decades-long bipartisan policy of issuing stays of removal for beneficiaries of private immigration bills when the Chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee requests a report on the beneficiary.

These dramatic changes have often been accompanied by inflammatory and inaccurate statements from Mr. Homan, including one which led to the resignation of an ICE spokesman who said he “didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts.”  For example, Mr. Homan has:

  • Reportedly referred to undocumented immigrants by the derogatory term “tonks”;
  • Said “shame on all of us” if Congress passes legislation to protect Dreamers, although the vast majority of Americans support such legislation; 
  • Said “I 100 percent support the wall,” although the vast majority of Americans oppose building a border wall;
  • Called for the criminal prosecution of elected officials who represent jurisdictions that limit their involvement in immigration enforcement;
  • Compared the Mayor of Oakland, California to a “gang lookout”;
  • Falsely suggested that an undocumented immigrant was responsible for wildfires in Sonoma County and that therefore California state law limiting involvement with immigration enforcement was to blame for the wildfires; and
  • Said that undocumented immigrants, even those with deep roots in our country and no criminal background, “should be afraid”.

We understand that the Trump Administration may be concerned about Mr. Homan answering questions under oath about his leadership of ICE, as well as the possibility that Mr. Homan’s nomination could be defeated in the Senate.  However, the Senate is an independent branch of government and has a responsibility under the Constitution to provide its advice and consent on this nomination.  Therefore, we again urge you to immediately provide all documents requested by HSGAC so that the Senate can consider Mr. Homan’s nomination as soon as possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration.  We look forward to your prompt response.

cc:        The Honorable Ron Johnson, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

The Honorable Claire McCaskill, Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

The Honorable Chuck Grassley, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

The Honorable John Cornyn, Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary