tv ICE Acting Director Tom Homan on His Career CSPAN June 5, 2018 12:54pm-1:59pm EDT
congress, and former president bill clinton. watch the r.f.k. 50th memorial service at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2, c-span.org, or listen n the free c-span radio app. >> thomas is the acting director of u.s. immigration and customs enforcement. poke today at a forum to enforce immigration laws. this was hosted for the center of immigration studies in washington, d.c. it's about an hour and 15 minutes so we'll watch as much as we can before the house avels back in at 2:00. >> good morning, everyone. thank you for coming. this is the second in our eries of "newsmaker"
interviews of people prominent in the immigration world and today we are speaking wi acting i.c.e. director tom homan, immigration and customs enforcement, and we are going to have a wide-nging conversa everything from sanctuary policies to the influx of illegal immigrants potential der to ngressional legislation, deportations, work force enforcement and so on. jessica: tom and i will be speaking for a while and we have a process for submitting questions that my colleague, marg reach, will be organizing marguerite, will be organizing. thanks for being here and let's get started. you know, i appreciate your being here today. one member of congress, representative joe croey from
new york, issued a letter yesterday suggesting you back out ofhis event tod, saying it is inappropriate for you to be speaking with a group that act and anti-semitic e organization. so i'm glad you are able to with us today. it didn't think you took him serious. tom: i am speaking to the national press club. i heard about the letter. i have not seen the letter. to call the c.i.s. racist, didn't representative crowley send a similar letter to his fellow c yvette clarke in new york when she stood in front of the i.c.e. building and called us the gestapo, the nazis, did he do that? so i'm here to speak to the american people. national press club i think is the perfect place to do that.
there is misinformation what's going on in immigration enforcement. i'll do everything i can to set the record straight. jessica: that's why we're here. i am hoping you'll reflect a little bit on your time as irector. it'seen nounced you're retiring at the end of the month so i can ask you some hard questions and this is your chance to have your say. to i always answer hard questions. i am not afraid of hard questions. whether i'm retiring or not, your questions will get the same answers you wou get a week ago. the answers don't change who i'm talking to, i can guarantee you that. jessica: how many years have you been working on the immigration issues? tom: i became a border patrol agent 1984. 34 years. i started in border patrol. spent 30 years for special investigations trafficking aliens in the country. then i ran enforcement operation, another division of
i.c.e., which deals with the detention of aliens within the united states and their removal and now i'm acting director. on benefit, i spent the entire illegal life cycle from the beginning to end so i know illegal immigration pretty well. jessica: i think you're highly qualified. what was your favorite job or place to be? to you know, there is no one favorite. i was most proud to wear the green uniform. the united states border patrol, there's 40,000 american patriots that put their life on the line every day. i was most proud of that. i was most proud being a special agent. i can't pick one. when the president asked me to come back to be i.c.e. director, i'm proud of that moment. i was able to get back to enforcing the law which we haven't been able to the administration, enforce laws the way they are written. i can't pick. everything i've done within i.c.e. is a positive experience for me. i think there's no one
favorite. i got to say they're all equally important. the border is important. interior enforcement is important. i had my fingers in all oft. look, i have a front row seat to the biggest issue facing this country. i think i.c.e. has made a dramatic impact in the past year. a 45-year-old low in illegal immigration last year. that's not a coincidence. that's because we have a president, president trump, who's allowing us to do our job. that shows when you enforce the law in a meaningful way it's going to deter. 45-year low. that's not a coincidence. that's because this president is letting us enforce the law. jessica: you were of course legacy i.n.f. what's different about i.c.e. and enforcement today from the i.n.s. which was a much maligned agency? tom: like, in i.n.s., people complain what i.c.e. does. i can tell you back in the
days, area control, back in those days you drive around the streets and you go to airport nd you look for people, reason suspicion. one thing that's changed -- most important change that's occurred in the i.n.s. days, we would be arresting what we found in the country illegally and meanwhile there are sexual predators and criminal aliens walking out of county jails across the country that we had no idea they were there. .
jessica: on the other hand, it could be argued and some have that the ramp up of the secure communities program really energized folks who were comfortable with immigration enforcement. that has led to the proliferation of sanctuary policies. one of the things i think is the really significant accomplishment of you and your leadership is focusing public attention on impact of sanctuary policies. and how they are proliferating and why they are a problem. do you have account on -- count on sanctuary jurisdictions at i.c.e.? tom: yes. and it's something that i'm very strongly opposed to. of course i have been talking about it -- talk about secure communities for a minute. we're talking about having access to people who have been
arrested. for those groups and those representatives say i.c.e. concentrate on criminal aliens. you should concentrate on criminals. i hear it all the time. we do. but you can't say concentrate on o criminals not in the county jail. that's ridiculous. we're talking about access to people that a state and local law enforcement arrested and locked up. they took their liberty away and put them in a jail cell because they thought they were either a public safetyhreat or flight risk. so they already made that choice. they are in a county jail. to be at a point where federal law enforcement officer, sworn officer who enforces immigration law, cannot get access to a taxpayer funded county jail, to talk to somebody who is illegally in the united states and entered illegally, is a crime. that's something i have been pushing. entering this country is a crime if you enter illegally. number two, they got aested for another crime. these are the people we should be talking to.
secure communities helps us in that. you got those folks that want to say secure communities is hatred and -- but it's the opposite. as far as sanctuary cities are concerned, the message people want to push is, well, we're a sanctuary city because we're protecting t immigrant community. you are not. you are doing the opposite. first of all, sanctuary cities to be clear, we're not asking anybody to be an immigration officer. we're the immigration officers. i'm not asking you to pull a car over and ask them their immigration status. i don't want you to enforce immigration law. give me access to your county jail where you already chose to stomebody and lock them in a jail cell like any other federal law enforcement agency. that's what we're asking for. we're not asking anybody to be an immigration officer. we're asking you give access of a sworn federal law enforcement officer to a jail to talk to a criminal in the country illegally. that is common sense. sanctuary cities, they want to
protect immigrant communities. let me be clear what it does. number one, when you release a criminal alien from a jail, that criminal alien will return to his community and victimize the ve communities which he lives, which are immigrant communities. what you have done in sanctuary cities by releasing that criminal alien back into the community is put imgrant community at greater risk of crime. number two, my job is to find them and arrest them. that is my job. if i can't arrest them in the safety and privacy of a county jail, are you going to force my officers to go in the community and knock on the door. now you are on their turf. they have access to who knows what weapons. it's dangerous for the alien, for my officers. you put them at great risk. what you have done to the immigrant community is, now i'm in the community. and i'm going to find this target of the arrest and chances are he may be with others. others that weren't even on my radar. they are going to be arrested because we couldn't turn a
blind eye anymore. what has sanctuary cities done so far, put them ate greater risk of crime and greater risk and put officers at risk. by pushing this sanctuary cities message out there, you are enticing further illegal entry. if they don't think a criminal o., which i know, i have done this for 34 years, these criminal organizations are in sanctuary cities as a selling point. i'll get you to san francisco for this much money. you can even get arrested for committing a crime, they are not going to work with immigration. sanctuary cities are going to see a huge increase of illegal immigration because they think they are safe. some sort of amnesty. when they don't. there is no sanctuary from federal law enforcement. the last thing i'll say some so enticing further illegal entry, you are bank rolling criminal organizations, transnational criminal organizations, smuggling into this contry, you are enticing them which will
profit for their business. are you bank rolling criminal organizations that smuggle guns, smuggle pe they don care. we have many investigations, many intelligence, they smuggle anything for money. thesereamcriminal organizations thatave murdered my agents, that have murdered others. bank rolling criminal organizations for sanctuary cities. anybody that doubts what i'm sang, i dare anybody going into an immigrant community and ask them a simple question. would you rather that i.c.e. agents working in a county jail or in your neighborhood? what do you think they are going to say? this whole thing about sanctuary cities protecting immigrant community is false, inaccurate, and putting politics over public safety. that's all it is. jessica: this idea -- i studied this for many years. this idea there is some kind of chilling effect on crime reporting when local law enforcement agencies are cooperating with i.c.e.
i have studied the academic literature and government statistics on it. it i a myth. anybody who has talked to local law enforcement officer or i.c.e. agent will tell you the same thing. that what the immigrants are afraid of ismils coming back to the community to reoffend. tom: talk about the whole victim thing. that's intentional mismessaging. when you intentionally mismessage, we arrest people in churches, hospitals, in schools. which i.c.e. has not done. we have not arrested anybody in a hospital, we have not arrested anybody in a church. we haven't arrested people on school grounds. when you constantly push that message, yause fr in the community. unless a local law enforcement victim or rresting a witness a crime, don't know they exist. if i know they exist, there are certain immigration benefits a victim witness can get. it's inaccurate information that is pushing this. the nfortunate because
reality is the reality is that we're focused thena you look athe nuers last year, 72% was a convicted criminal. history, k at the those history, those convicted or pending criminal charges, 89% of everybody we arrested last year had a criminal history. that's nine out of 10. that's pryor at thisization. people say we don't prioritize. your w they say you criminal arrests are way up. but 6% of the noncriminals -- 66% of the noncriminals we got through the criminal justice system. meaning they have been arrested that. story saying we're not prioritizing, we're. jessiche worrm noncriminal has a specific meaning in your statistics which is people who have not been convicted of a crime. many organizations point to the percentage of victim or witness a noncriminals in the arrest numbers. by the time they are removed, are they still noncriminals? tom: many of criminals have een convicted since.
our priorities are public safety. fugitives reentrance. talk about the noniminals. most are fugitive reentrants. these are people who have been removed from the country by a judge. they re-entered illegally, which is a fell nifment that's one piece. the other piece areites. these are folks who had due process at great taxpayer expense. this country spent billions of dollars a year on attorneys, judges. everybody wants -- they deserve due process. due ave to give them process. their case needs to be heard. we'll to that. once a federal judge makes a decision, our job is to execute that due process. order. folks that become fugitives ignore a judge's order. if you or i ignored an order, what happened? we would be arrested and removed. those are folks who say they have been ordered to remove, been there five years. you shouldn't arrest them. no. if those orders by immigration junlts don't mean anything, there is no integrity in the system. open the border up because there is no penalty.
you can violate the laws, hav the due process at great taxpayer expense, and you get amnesty, you are immune from law. there has to be integrity in the system. we'll give you due process. because you don't like the decisi of the immigration judge doesn't make it ok to stay here illegally. jessica: new york's governor cuomo has asked you to cease and desist all enforcement operations in the state of new york. what do you think that would do to public safety? tom: first of all it's not going to a we're not going to cease and-- jessica: are you not intimidated by that? tom: my grandfather was a police officer, my father, i was. i love new york. i'm a native new yorker. one thing we did in new york, last year we arrested nearly 5,000 criminal aliens off the streets of new york. one thing we did in new york, last year we arrested rather than cease and desist
letter, a letter of thank you would be appreciated. i'm not asking for anybody to cut us slack. what asking for is a little decency, recognition of the 20,000 men and women that work for i.c.e. that leave the safety and security of their home and strap their gun to the hip to defend this nation a little recognition that have would be nice rather than cease and desist letter. jessica: another governor, governor brown of california, says i.c.e. is lying about all this. tom: look. when you look at sanctuary laws in the state of california, the federal government's doing them, which is the right thing to do. sheriffs rnia association, the governor's own sheriffs agree with us. the sb-54 prevents communication with i.c.e. and dangerous criminals like gang members are being released in jails throughout california. the california sheriffs association his own agree that it's damaging. ere has been at least 15 cities and jurisdictions that have joined the lawsuit to sue their own state.
sb-54, governor brown's wrong. any policy that results in the release of a public safety threat back into the public to adpolicy. it's google in this room can recidivism rates. 50% will create -- commit another crime in the first year they are released. 75% will reoffend within five years. to prevent a federal l enforcement officer to take custody of somebody in the country google recidivism rates. 50% will is wrong. no. he's wrong. no one's lying about california sanctuary laws. illegally and c add crime we'll let the court settle it. jessica: it seems to me from looking at the numbers that there is no shortage of i.c.e. to gets for be going after. the agency has stated before there are about two million estimated criminal aliens in the country. one million of whom are at large.
you have enough criminal targets you don't need to be going around arresting grandmothers on their way to church or college students or cancer patients or anything like that. tom: let me just talk about one thing real quick. the biggest hit we take from folks in some media outlets and groups, why did you arrest that person that's been here 12 years? you arrest them? because he's a fugitive. if the message we want to keep sending to the rest of the world is, it's ok to violate laws in this country, you arres enter this and hide out successfully, or just ignore a judge's order and have your citizen child. the fact born in this country. if that's the message we want to send. enter the country and have a child, now you are immune from law enforcement, if that's the message we want to send to the world, you are never going to solve the immigration crisis. the laws are on the books. we need to enforce the laugs.
i'm -- laws. i'm one to say congress needs to look at immigration laws. there needs to be reforms and fixes. ignoring the law isn't an answer. just because you successfully hide out doesn't make it ok. jessica: when someone is released, criminal alien releasedan i.c.e. detainer or local law enforcement agency didn't contact i.c.e. or policy of noncooperation or i.c.e. isn't allowed in the jail, a lot of law enforcement agencies will say, well, i.c.e. can get these people any time. they know where they are. can you explain why that's not so easy? tom: first of all, once they get released they are hard to ind. first of all what we do is just make it clear, target enforcement operation. we don't is go in neighbors and do sweeps as you read in some papers. we don't do sweeps, we don't do raids. we do targeted enforcement operation, which means we go look for a specific person,
specific location, based on a lot of intelligence and criminal investigative work. we know what we're l for and hopefully where they are going to be. we're not locking down a neighborhood. we're not doing roadblocks. it's difficult. it creates a lot of work, first of all, in the targeting and intelligence investigative work trying to locate this person. because they don't want to be found. they are in a country illegally and if they are a criminal they are more likely they dot want to be found. it's a lot of work. what it does is put my officer at great risk. when we arrest somebody in the county jail, we know they don't have weapons. the alien is safe, the neighborhood is safe, officer is safe. when you release them we have to find them. i got a lot of attacks when alifornia -- california better hold on tight because they are going to see more agents than they have ever seen. that is a fact. it wasn't a threat. it wasn't retaliation. when one
hold on tight because they are going to see more agents than they have ever officer can sit county jail and process 10 illegal aliens in a shift, now you release those 10 aliens to the street, i got to send a whole te out to locate one. when i said you are about to see more agents, that isn't a di rt of sb-54 because i lostficien being in a county jail with one agent dealing with 10. now i have to send a whole team to look for one. that's why there is a surge in resources in california because you just made my job more difficult by loss of efficiency. that was the message. jessica: with the exact kind of enforcement that the advocacy groups say they are opposed to in the neighborhoods. simple math. more oics in the county jail equals less officers in the community. that's just operational reality. again, if people want me to focus on criminal aliens, which we're doing, nine out of 10. i can do more if i have access to a county jail. on't tell me to prioritize criminals which you can't come to my county jail.
jessica: then there are these law enforcement agencies and actually mostly the aclu and -- all eyes say, look, we should have law enforcement agencies cooperate, but why can't you ust provide a judicial warrant? why can't you just get a criminal warrant? tom: because there is no law that dictates that. when congress passed the immigration nationality act, there is no process in place for a judicial warrant. it's an administrative process. the law is clear. there is no mechanism placed there. the law doesn't require a judicial warrant. jessica: who could issue a judicial warrant? tom: a magistrate. jessica: do they have that authority? tom: no. that's what you don't hear. they don't warrant? why for sue a judicial warrant havy administrative immigration law violation. it doesn't exist. jessica: a red herring. tom: absolutely. the detainers, we for don't fin
constitutional. the fifth circuit just said they were. we have courts say they are constitutional. what the detainer has changed in the last several years, there is a statement of probable cause within that detainer. we have probable cause that person's in the united states illegally based on our investigation. probable cause standards is new to the detainer st coue years. that's where it's changed. taut retainers for a minute. even if you choose not to honor detainer because your torge or county attorney says we think they are illegal, if you read the detainer, they have an option on that. hold them for 48 hours until we can get them. or, know the facts before you elease them. there is no liability to say we're going to contact i.c.e. before we release a person of arges. t hold them a minute past you would normally know them. let us know before you release them on your terms. that's an option. a lot of sheriffs want to work with us despite the court controversy. they hose the option, we'll notify there is no i.c.e. before we re
them and we'll be there to take custody of them. jessica: let's changto another subject now. to one that's been in the news a lot in the last couple weeks. about the influx of people arriving illegally from central america. kids.es and there have been, since 2014, more than 300,000 family units or kids. there have unaccompanied minors rived illegally and been resettled into american communities. all over the united states. of them are making can asylum claims and the ones who are kids -- there are two issues there. the issue of the families and issue of the kids. there was a headline recently about 1,400 missing children that the government has lost track of. did you lose track of 1,00
kids? tom: no. jessica: foster parent in the world? tom: no. health and human services. the tronkf em. majority of them are hiding. that just fact. when we it an operation under the last administration, operation border guard, we went and looked for families that had their due process and got a final orderemoval, so we got a othem are wholeist ofhese fol that had their final order of removal. we went looking for them. majority we couldn't find. these children, majority are being released to illegal alien parents or illegal alien relatives. they don't want to be found. they don't want to present themselves to the united states government. jessica: why? tom: they are illegally in the united states. they don'tn't want to be held law. table by immigration can i say every alien is hiding? no. i am telling you based on my experience, what we have done the last several years, the majority are hiding. they don't want to be found. that's why a vast majority of these families don't show up in immigration comet they get
order absentia. not only did they go in hiding won't appear won't appear in f an immigration judge. that's just fact. i'm sure tomorrow i'll read i'm wrong. wear my shoes for 34 years, do what i do, and look at the facts of what's going on. look at how many families do noge a final fear find interesting a judge because 80%. 80%. like a lot of fraud going on. they know it. they are certainly not going to show up to a judge and present a fraudulent case. 80% don't get -- appear, so my opinion, many of th -- let me be clear. do i think some of these people are escaping fear and persecution and they have a solid case, yeah? i think there is some. i would be a fool to say there is not. but i think a majority of them are taking advantage of a low threshold. and there is a lot of silent fraud going on.
and they are hiding. i have over half a million fugitives on my docket. these are people that have had their due process, ordered removed, and they e hiding. we have to locate them. for these families that get final order, there needs to be a consequence. you can't say i want my due process just because you like the decision by a federal judge, ignore it, and go into hiding. we're looking for those people w. that's what we should be doing. we need to execute these orders issued by a federal judge like every other federal law enforcement agency executes orders by a federal judge. people don't have the right to ignore a federal judge's order. that going to make sure these orde a that's our job. that headline was very isleading. that a lot of people pretracted it. again, it's another attempt by those that want a mixed message what's going on in this country in immigration enforcement. jessica: talk about this influx. as i se hare than 30000 at least who have been
a lot of people resettled. and the problem did abate for a while last year. anks according to the border patrol statistics, we're definitely seeing a big spike in the number of illegal arrivals. and a much larger percentage of the people arriving illegally w are families as opposed to single men or older men arriving and crossing illegally. why do you think there are so p comg all of a sudden -- not all of a sudden, but again after the numbers abated last year. tom: they figured out loopholes. they figured, as i just said, they can come and have due process at great taxpayer expense and just disappear in society. we have asked congress, myself, the head of c.b.p., c.i.s., we
have sent issues to congress and legislative fixes to fix those loopholes. jessica: they are arriving at the border. and they are apprehended by the bord patrol. some are coming to the legal ports of entry in caravans. i have seen those lines of people recently visited a place, this was last year, and saw they had a dedicate the lane for asylum seekers. that's how many they were. most at that time were mexican. asians come in there. -- haitians come in there. they are taken into custody at the port of entry. how do they make it into i.c.e. custody? why are the families at issue for i.c.e.? tom: a couple things. again misinformation is being thrown out there to the american public. first of all i red 100 stories in the past week that i.c.e. is separating families. first i.c.e. isn't separating families. it's happening on the border patrol. c.b.p. decides who we're prrgetting. because of that prosecution
they are separating families. i transport the children to an h.h.s. facility. that's our job. the homeland security act o 2002, the trafficking protections act, says we can't detain children for over 72 hours. they must be given over to health and human services. we're doing what we're congressional mandated to do. the separation is happening at the board -- border by c.b.p. if families come to the board of entry to claim asylum, which they have a a right to do, they won't be separated because they have a right to claim asylum. it will give due process. they have the same judicial process they should have. but ose who choose to violate law between the ports of entry are committing a crime. i saw a police officer in new york, children and parents get separated every day across this country when a parent is charged with a criminal offense. i have taken fathers out of
hos r domestic violence. it's sad to see the children cry when you take a parent a out of a home. because it's sad doesn't mean we ignore the law. it's unfortunate. jessica: i have four kids can. what laws can i get away with? tom: iust want to make things clear. we're not separating them because they entered the country lly.ilga no. they are being separated because the parent's being charged with crime. they'll be taken into custody by the u.s. marshals. children first of all, you detain children, at our o family residential standards, are high standards for dr. educatnal, pediatrics. all these things. that are required. h.h.s., according to law, has have custody of children. it isn't separating children for the sake of separating them. you are prosecuting a parent. even american citizens get separated when you prosecute a parent. it's only those cases between the port of entries. when they get a family unit, if they entered through the port of entry, if they don't get
prosecuted, we take custody of the family after they get process, they go to a residential certainty, we further process them there. and there is a ninth circuit court decision that says we can't detain them over 20 days. ag that's a loophole. if we can only detain a family for a couple weeks, get leased, that's a problem. one of the loopholes we need to fi is a the ninth circuit decision saying there is a limit how we hold families. people that say these are bad centers, no. the inspector general did a surprise inspectio no. illegally came n. are in f.r.c.'s, medica site. psychologists. education on site. they have access to -- it's unlimited amount of illegally c n. foods. how many u.s. citizens zen children in this country don't have unlimited access to fruits milk, juice,
medical care, dental care. i always talk about these f.r.c.'s are a terrible places. there are a lot of u.s. children who don't get that mil medical care, dental care. i care. we're providing that care at great expense. jessica: it's not a correctional situation. it's a holding center. tom: right. jessica: tough situation. tom: the f.r.c.'s are important because we got to make sure we know who the people are. we'll follow through on where they are going and we'll make sure family members and the ve any diseases. last year had a huge issue with chicken pox and lies. measles a few years ago. we got to make sure when they are released they are not going into the community and causing a public health crisis. we give a full medical, make sure they are ok. we provide vaccinations if needed. we do a lot to take care of these families. e issue s. once they get
released and d'tup and don't sup in court, there i conseence to their illegal activity. back when we were able to hold families beyond 20 days, until they get immigration -- had hearing from immigration judge, they were getting removal hearings, we were removing them. that can't happen in 20 days. that takes months once you release them. that's the issue. we want that loophole fixed so we can detain people until they have the hearing from the immigration judge. jessica: why does it take so long? is there no way to eedite those hearings? f : there is a lot of -- o course immigration court has a huge backlog. i asked that same question. why can't we have a hearing a judge within that 20 there are certain requirements the defense has 10 days to provide information. i'm not a lawyer a. but there are certain requirements within the whole immigration add a mrtive judicial process that takes that time frame beyond 20 days t can't be done. -- days. it can't be done. they can can do it in 30 days. 45 days. it's a process.
it's acessnd the rights .hat the alien can take it's just - -t just can't happen that quickly. i don't understand it i have asked that question many imes myself. days. the answer is can't be done because of the processes is burdensome and there is a lot of requirements we have to ally sum applications. those that do go through the process are found the answer is can't not qualifi for asylum. you have a challenge in actually complying with the due process and enforcing the law. and the judge who has imposed
this arbitrary time frame to keep people in custody that doesn't match the reality of how long it's going to take. tom: it's just common sense. 80% don't get a finding from the judge that have the due process. and they go into hiding. it only makes sense if they have an asylum claim, at least be heard. if you want to claim asylum and enter the country and be released after 15 days, follow up and make sure you have your least be heard. you want hearings and -- hearing and plead your case. owing 80% don't get it, get releas, we can't find them. it makes sense you should detain them and have the hearing. give them the due process. we can offer due process. they should be in a position to accept due process and follow through the commitment of the judicial hearing. hearings and that's why we need to detain them longer to make sure they see a judge and have the case heard. it only makes sense. -- g what we're doing now
unless we close these loopholes you will acie this keep can happening. they know i'll spend two weeks in an i.c.e. facility. we'll -- unless we close these get taken. children will be taken care of to be released. not show up in court. that's why the numbers are high. because loopholes. thes, they getned e in b over to h.s. and they'll g released. sponsor, many times illegal parents or relatives, and they don't show up in court. i personally by themselves, they get turned over to h.h.s. and they'll get signed an m.o.u. with health and human services, we're working on sharing information. my opinion is that parent or sponsor, mostly parents, in the country illegally, and they a criminal organization to smuggle their children to the united states, which is not safe at all, that whole smuggling trip from central america into the united states by a criminal organization. jessica: these are not charity. tom: we have many cases, kids have a criminal
organization trafficked, these kids, those cases where they have been brought in by nonrelatives. a bigger been information sharing with h.h.s., i.c.e. and my personal opinion is if you are illegal alien parent that had your child smuggled through a criminal organization tohe united states, you should be in proceedings with your child. you can't keep hiding in the shadows. if you hav valid a bigger asylu persecution, i would think the parent would want to stand shoulder to shoulder with their child and plead their case as a family. for your claim of i think that's the right thing to do. instead of having a child stand in front of an immigration judge by themselves, the parents should be there. look, if you treel truly believe fear of pirscution and you paid to have him smuggled, plead your gays. you geyour due process. let's see where it plays out. jessica: why do you think the families are ok with having the child pursue their own application for relief?
tom: in many of the cases they are illegal in the united states and they don't want to face immigration judge themselves. that is ju fact. this mismessaging, i'm trying to speak fact versus fiction, that's what the issue is. the issue is, they have immigration issues themselves. they want to remain in the shadows. jessica: how do we fix this? what needs to happen? tom: i think we need legislation passed. we need some policy fixes. the list of things we sent up to the hill. jessica: what would be your priority? we're getting ready to move into a month where it looks like congress may actually be considering immigration legislation. what would you -- tom: my priorities short list, sanctuary cities. releasing criminal aliens back to the public. public safety threat. american public safety threat. we got to stop putting american citizens, even those in immigrant communities, at risk for their crimes. sanctuary cities, we have to
address sanctuary cities. we need to talk about tv p.r.a. a great reason for it. jessica: that's the law that governs how -- tom: if you are from canada or the united states and enter the -- u.a.c. from mexico or canada you ernt the country illegally, once it's determined you are not a victim of trafficking, they can be returned quickly. if you are from central america, that's not an option. you have to go through the whole hearing process. we want it fixed. once you verify they are not victim of trafficking, we don't care when they are from, we can show that and prove that, they need to have the same agreements as mexico and canada. jessica: do you think they would do that to central american countries? would they be willing to sign such an agreement? tom: it's not central american decision, it's a decision under trafficking victims acts. look, this is -- we're going to
treat all children equally. we return u.a.c.'s to countries every year. i think last year we removed over 1,000 of them. we removed u.a.c.'s to the trialentes, three down in central america. they do issue travel documents and accept them. i would address sanctuary cities, the florida decision that says we could only detain families for certain amount of days. i would like to detain them until they have an immigration roceeding. i can't blame anybody for wanting to be part of the greatest country on the earth. there is a right way and wrong way to do it. if you have your own persecution claim, there should be no problem with us, you ernt the country, we detain you until you have your hearing. if you get a finding of for, then you are re-- fear, then are you released and you can pursue life in the united states.
if the answer is no, you enter the country illegally, ou don't have the right to this relief, hears your order of removal, it needs to be executed. -- i can't blame anybody for wanting to be part of the here' removal, it needs to be executed. 9 -- the settlement agreement that says how long we can detain families. i think e-verify is necessary. i think because as i said illegal employment in this country is a magnet that pulls into this country. i think e-verify should be mandated in the united states across the board. they would be my biggest ones. jessica: you raise a good in th i think e-verifynt shoul about mostxperts agree tt the main attractions for illegal migration is -- tom: let me interrupt you. one major wufpblet the last thing i would push --priority, is look at the asylum process. the threshold from c.i.s. is so low that nearly 90% of the people that get their initial hearing, initial interview by
c.i.s. gets a positive fear finding because the thresholds are so low. i understand why they are low. they want to make sure they send a mistake and send someone back that will be persecuted. 90% go through a first interview and get a finding. when it's an immigration judge, less than 20%. jessica: that is proved. tom: we need to change the ally lum process and raise the bar to make sure when people claim asylum, they have an asylum claim that is accepted under the statute that meets the requirements of the statute. we need to look at the asylum process also. jessica: they may say they are coming to seek asylum. and that they have a fear of return. but when they are interviewed by others, say reporters talking with them, often they say they are here to make money, to seek a better life for their families, sometimes
referred to as economic migrants. ultimately. we see that when they are not actuallyin their official asylum applications, they areooking for employment. just like others arriving as the -- different administrations in the past have approached the job magnet and worked that enforcement in different ways. under the bush administration we saw a lot of operations take place a at work sites. where i.c.e. would show up. talk to everyone there. make arrests of illegal workers. sometimes hundreds at a time. under the obama administration the focus shifted to work site audits. audits of paperwork, essentially. eople called a virtual raid. what is your approach now that you are ram -- ramping up work
force asinet. tom: increase work site enforcement by three or four times because there wasn't enough being done. that's a magnet. employers don't give illegal aliens jobs out of the goodness of their heart. they usually pay them less wages. they work under terrible situations many times. there is trafficking going on. are simply violating the. got uonis competitor. he's paying him less and giving him an unfair advantage. what we're doing differently, so far we have increased work site enforcement by 300%. we'll continue doing that. what we're doing is not only conducting criminal investigations of employers, where we have evidence there is criminalehavior, we're also -- doing the audits and we're arresting illegal employees. that's our job. need to have both.
illegal alien work force and employers. what people don't understand, work site enforcement is out of control. in the cases we have done, there is a lot of criminal activity going on. it's not just employing illegal ther tax fraud going on. because the employers aren't paying the taxes. there is identity theft going on. a lot of these illegal alien workers are using the social security number of u.s. citizens. there is identity theft, tax fraud. there's trafficking. there is a criminal aspect to work site enforcement which people don't understand. there is a lot of victims out there, u.s. citizen victims, who have had their identity stolen and social security number used by people who shouldn't be using them. more to this than just illegal employment. there is not a criminal violation we're investigating in concert with work site enforcement. jessica: do you think there are adequate penalties in the law for employers? tom: i think they could be harsher.
the first thing we need to do is enforce those laws. that's what i have done differently. that's what the president has done is letting us enforce laws the way they were written. it would be a good point to say this. a lot of people want to attack i.c.e. i see it every day. they want to call i.c.e. racist, nazis. jessica: you have people cheering sometimes. tom: can you not like what we do. -- you can cannot like what we do. but don't vilify the men and women. if you don't like what we do, talk to your congressman and senator. we're enforcing the laws the books. that's what we're doing. we're not making this up. we're enforcing the law. don't vilify the men and women, the law enforcement officers are simply doing their job that put their life on the line every day. it's wrong. we enforce laws unpopular among some people.
ratherhan standing in fron an i.c.e. officer and protesting what we protesting what we do, maybe you should be on the hill taing to your congressman and telling him what you don't like. don't vilify the men and women of i.c.e. or the border patrols who are simply doing their jobs. it's unfortunate. i was shown a video the other day and the reporshed me a video, father being arrested, and children were crying. it was on video and asked me how i felt about it. i feel bad. w enforcement officers throughout this country throughout this country see sad things every day. but we have a job to do. it doesn't mean it's sad so we it.re
no. one thing you got to remember, for that parent who was arrested and his child crying and feel bad about, get it, but what responsibility does he have in this? he chose to enter the country illegally in violation of federal law. he chose to do that intentionally. does he have any responsibility for violating that law? he had due process at great taxpayer expense and ignored that court order. if you and i ignored the court order we would be arrested and put in jail. does he deserve any responsibili that had due process and ignored a court's order? he chose how u.s. citizen child while he knew he was in the country illegally. he put himself in the position. that arrest, who is at fault for that arrest? he is. he entered the country illegally. he ignored the federal judge's order. he had a child knowing he was in the country illegally . when it comes time that the law catches up with him. the law enforcement officer is simply doing their job. so the video makes it look like oh, terrible i.c.e. agents making this child cry. the father, he needs to take responsibility because he had done several things that put his family in the position of that happening. we have to focus on that. instead of focusing on actions of i.c.e., focus on the people who put them in that position. jessica: that's true even of work site enforcement.
some people have criticized it saying you were arresting hard workers who are here to feed their family. but there are these other crimes associated with it. especially identity fraud. created real victims when identities are stolen. of u.s. citizens. there are huge problems as you know with puerto rican, social security numbers being stolen. i remember reading an interview with an illegal alien who had been arrested in a work site operation. about his prosecution for using stolen sociaumber. he said, i didn't steal it. i bought it. and there is this attitude some people have about -- this is what illegal a have to do. that's why -- enforcing laws against identity theft and --shouldn't be
enforced because the illegal aliens are forced into doing that. yet there are real victims created. --shouldn't be are you still running the document benefit fraud task force that is used to focus on raud? how is that being dealt with as an enforcement priority under i.c.e. now? tom: work site enforcement operations we're looking at those who have taken i.d.'s and prioritized them. some we prosecuted. we have a fraud division within .c.e. that looks at that stuff. now that we have work site enforcement, that division is getting buzzy, too. for the folks that say it's not such a big deal to use somebody else's social security number. depends which side of that crime are you on. if they use your social security number and steal your identity, i can tell you from personal experience it's hell to deal with that and try to records straight. when you think about, well, it's no big deal. think about your social
security number and how you if your credit was affected by it. think about what would have happened to you. everything's ok because it's not happening to me. it happened to other folks. it can can happen to you. it's a crime. we're just not going trn a blind eye to t we can't. jessica: utah had a huge problem with the document fraud rings selling the social security numbe that had not yet been issued. then a couple years later those numbers are assigned to children. some of those american parents and immigrant parents were signing up their kids for programs like head start and other social service programs they qualified for because they were low-incomeilie and then they were told, your child's not getting into head start because she has $3,000 a year income from working at cdonald's in california. it does create new victims. tom: it is prevalent. you just don't hear about it.
i said it many times. illegal immigration is not a victimless crime. i know i'sitting here talking about enforcement a lot. let me make something clear, i hope this makes the cut. this isn't just about enforcing the laws of this country. it's about saving lives. the more you entice illegal entry whether it's familie children, adults that want to ener the country illegally because of the enticement of sanctuary cities. if we don't do and fix these policies and control our border and take these enticements away, more people are going to take that dangerous journey and enter this country illegally. more children will die. crossing that river. more women will be abused by these criminal organizations, which we -- plenty of examples of that. i have been in this business a long time.
i often talk about it that i have seen, illegal aliens abandon on the trail because they couldn't make the trip and died. i have seen i often talk that. i have been there. i have stood there and seen it. i was in phoenix, arizona, during operation i. storm where people were being held hostage they were taking a deal. we'll get you to the united states for $5,000, once they get there they call the relatives, $10,000. you said it was five, now it's 10. if you don't pay it, we'll kill them. they d require one case we tracked a cell phone to a hostage situation, this man was in the closet bound by his hands and feet behind him with his face duct taped with a hole to breathe through a straw. i have seen t i was in victoria, texas, when i was called there to run a headquarters investigation. i stood in the back of a tractor-trailer surrounded by 19 dead aliens. i grew up in a town of 2,000 people. people that don't think this is a crime that affects people are
wrong. i stood there, surrounded by 19 dead aliens, including a 5-year-old boy who suffered to death. those who don't think who interter this -- enter this country illegally, put your position in that father or child that died in his arms, what he went through in his last 30 minutes of his life he put his son in such a condition and watch the son die in his arms suffer because he couldn't breathe. think about what the child went through the last 30 minutes of his life. i know i'm tough about talking about this enforcement. we're doing our job. we have to enforce the law. lives. saving we can't keep enticing people entering this country. people will die and be abused. it's not just about enforcing the law, this is about saving lives. i know t. i have seen it. the 40,000 men and women wearing the green uniform see
this every day. the men and women that work for i.c.e.eehis every day. talk about that. it's more than enforcing t law, it's about saving lives people being put in the position of these criminal organization these don't care b these criminal organizations that smuggle people. they care about the dollar. they care about how much money they can make. there's been a lot of examples of tractor-trailer smuggling. there's been loot of examples of trafficking of women and children. we got to put a stop to it. only way to put a stop to it is control this border and hold people accountable. all we're doing by doing the fact is bank rolling criminal organizations and puttling people already in sess desperate situation at risk. i have -- already people in desperate situation at risk. i have said many times. i've a father, a husband, i have a child, but there is a right way and wrong way to enter this country. 're one of the most giving
countries, we have accepted more people as refugees to this country. more people have become great members of our society the right way. we cannot keep ignorin illegal immigration. because it's dangerous. it's just not -- again, i'll have accepted say it again, it's not save lives, it's about enticing people to make that a journey. we know how to fix it. we had a -- we know how to fix t we have the will power and knowledge, but we need congress to sit down with us and let's fix it. i would think everybody whether are you republican or democrat would want a secure border. i would think everybody, whether republican or democrat, wants to save lives. it's puzzling to me we can't have that conversation in a meaningful way and fix this. it's unfortunate. jessica: we know you have that opportunity in the coming weeks. we'll see. i hope members of congress are tuned in today listening to you. i'll ask you one more question before we go to the questions
from our audience. has a replacement been named -- excuse me, a a successor? tom: no. jessica: all right. i want to say before we run out of time also thank you so much for your dedication to this job and to i.c.e.'s mission and all your accomplishments and work on behalf of our country. i know it's appreciated. tom: i appreciate that. i have 34 years again, i'll say it doing it. almost 35 1/2 years of law enforcement. greatest honor of my life serving this country. when i was asked to come back from retirement, i left a lot of money on the table to come back and serve as the director for this president. let me say this, i'm going to get political for a minute. you can like or love this president, you have a right to your opinion. but no president, and i worked for six of them, starting with
ronald reagan, and i respect every president i ever worked for. i respect them greatly. they are president of the united states. i respected allf them greatly. but no president has done more border security an public safety than this press. -- president. can you not deny what he's done. -- you cannot deny what he's done. his success would be a success for the entire country. i'll just say that. jessica: here's a question. in work site enforcement has i.c.e. arrested employers? how important is it to penalize both illegal workers and their employers? tom: very important. that's what we're doing. we'll hold employers accountable. if they violate a law, they'll be accountable to that. many of these operations you read on paper, criminal charges will come out of it. i have i strucked that we will not turn a blind eye to illegal
-- people here ill really -- illegally. congress needs to address -- one thing people don't understand, don't know about me. i actually think the guest worker programeopl f pin agriculture is an important thing. lly think dairy farms ought to be pa o where there's a need we need to have a law to do it legally, not illegally. i support a legal fix. i just don't support vogue knowingly violate the laws. far ought to be part of it. where there's a need we need to have a law to jessica: will i.c.e. ever get back to the days of 400,000 plus removals? if so, what resources and policy changes would that take? tom: first of all there is no quote thea. a quota.ut it's more diicult. i was head of the e.r.o. when we had the 400,000 record for the a quota agency. if you look at it, 400,000, if there is 11 million illegal aliens, that's
we need more resources to do that. moreicers. it's more difficult now because with the sanctuary cities, instead of one person processing 10, you need a whole team. our job is more difficult now. everybody is secure about border secure. everybody is secure about public safety. our job's hard. will we get to 400,000? i don't know. we'll keep enforcing the law we're supposed to the way on the books. whatever results are there is the results. i have not put any quotas out there other than saying you can increase enforcement. you are going toncour --e by th president coming out with executive orders, all the executive orders came out, and it writing, he could have said in one sentence, you enforce the laws on the books. that's what we're doing. we'll keep doing t enforce the laws enacted by congress. that's oath we took. that's our job. the president supports
a deal to address the situation f the peoplwho have da and the levels of legal immigration, chain migration in particular and the diversity lottery. border security in particular, wall. doesn't amnesty encourage more legal immigration? tom: i think when you reward illegal behavior, it certainly does. it's a fact. f congress chooses to pass legislation on daca, what i said many times you is can't -- my opinion you can't pass a clean daca bill without talking about the underlying reasons
for illegal immigration. you got to address that as part of the fix. if you don't, these families now will be ss here next daca in 10 yea. let's stop kicking that can down the road f now will be you daca, talk about the overarching issues of illegal immigration. so we don't have daca every 10 ars, or amnesty every 15, 20 years. fix it. jessica: do you think that daca and amnesty has contributed to the spiking of numbers that we're seeing now? tom: yes. absolutely. my experience, if you look at every time you talk about some sort of benefit, whether it's amnesty, daca, even though you may set the rules, you got to be in the country thilong. people are going to take that chance certainly increases illegal crossings. that's been pren for the last three decades i have been around. jessica: all police agencies disclose arrests.
including the identity of the person, the name of the person who was arrested, sometimes other information about them. except for c.b.p. and i.c.e. why is it that i.c.e. does not release information on people -- the names and identities of peopleested like o enrcement agencies? tom: that's something i'm working on. i know that's a privacy issue. from my attorneys. my privacy office. i think we should release them. if you are a criminal that we have arrested, my personal opinion, they should be released. lawyers and privacy deal with that. they know how i feel. we need to be as transparent as we can. that's what i'm pushing for. i got to abide by lawyers and privacy deal department policy and i got to abide by the law. i'm not an attorney. i have asked the same question and that's what we can do differently within the confines of the law >> we'll break away from this