More than four months after acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan got the nod from President Donald Trump to become the permanent leader of the agency, he remains in limbo.
The Senate — which is nominally controlled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — has not confirmed him. His confirmation hearing has not even been scheduled.
To Homan’s supporters, the delay is hard to figure.
“Why the Senate is dragging its feet in confirming him full time is hard to understand,” said Joe Guzzardi, a spokesman for Progressives for Immigration Reform, which focuses on the environmental impact of mass immigration.
Aides to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, did not respond to multiple requests from LifeZette for comment on the Homan situation.
For his part, Homan downplayed the delay during a recent appearance on “The Laura Ingraham Show.” He said he has to gather and submit a voluminous amount of paperwork. Citing one example, he said he has been asked to submit transcripts from every speech he ever has given.
“What a heavy lift. So there’s a lot to the process,” he said.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, noted that all of Trump’s nominees have been subjected to stall tactics from Senate Democrats. He said Democrats are in such a comprehensive resistance mode that the details do not much matter.
“If Trump said it’s a good idea to shower daily, Democrats would stop bathing,” he said.
But Krikorian, whose organization favors more aggressive immigration enforcement, said Democrats have specific reasons to dislike Homan.
“Democrats presumably don’t like him because he’s been forthright in his insistence on enforcing the law,” he said.
Guzzardi suggested a double standard in the way Democrats are treating Trump’s nominees compared to the treatment Obama’s appointees received from Republicans.
“They confirmed Obama’s nominees virtually automatically,” he said. Indeed, the Senate unanimously confirmed John Morton as ICE chief in May 2009, less than three months after Obama nominated him. It took about three and a half months for Obama’s second ICE director, Sarah Saldaña, to win Senate confirmation in 2014.
President George W. Bush’s assistant secretary of state for homeland security — the official in charge of ICE at the time — ran into trouble. Bush tapped Julie Myers in June 2005. She got a hearing in September of that year, but the Republican-controlled Senate never confirmed her.
Bush installed her on a recess appointment when the Senate was out of session and renominated her in January 2007. The Senate — which had been taken over by the Democrats in November 2006 — finally confirmed her, nearly a year later.
It is unclear whether Homan will receive similar treatment, but his problems are not just on the Left. His nomination also has drawn opposition from the union that represents ICE officers. Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council, told LifeZette that Homan enthusiastically supported restrictive polices by former President Barack Obama’s administration that, agents complained, tied their hands.
“He was the Obama guy,” he said. “He was the guy who put all those Obama policies in place.”
To suggestions that Homan simply was carrying out the orders of his bosses and now is free to return the agency to law and order, Crane said the acting director could have been a whistleblower but instead seemed eager to implement Obama’s agenda.
Some former Obama administration officials back that up. “He was thoughtful and nuanced,” an official told The New Yorker in January. “None of us recognize this guy.”
Crane acknowledged that enforcement has improved since Trump became president. Interior immigration arrests are up, and ICE is casting a wider net. Gone are Obama-era policies that essentially exempted illegal immigrants who had not committed serious crimes or met another of the agency’s enforcement priorities.
Crane said that meant ICE released or did not even bother to arrest tens of thousands of illegal immigrants during the Obama years.
Those changes have improved morale among ICE officers, Crane said. But he added that Homan and other Obama holdovers that run the agency lack a comprehensive strategy to prevent illegal immigration.
“All we do under people like Tom Homan is chase statistics … Guys like Homan, they don’t have a vision for the agency,” he said.
Crane also faulted Homan for failing to improve training.
“We don’t have a law enforcement culture,” he said. “We don’t act like cops.”
Crane said rank-and-file ICE officers had high hopes that the Trump administration would mean a complete reversal of Obama-era polices and a full return to law and order.
“The dream for us is over,” he said.