WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the view of the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), all undocumented immigrants are a priority, opening the door to mass deportation.
“We shouldn’t wait for them to become a criminal,” ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said in testimony Tuesday before the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, referring to ICE arrests of noncriminals.
“If you’re in this country illegally … you should look over your shoulder,” Homan said separately during the testimony.
Homan was answering a question about Diego Ismael Puma Macancela, 19, whom ICE arrested on the day of his senior prom and the week of his high school graduation ceremony.
Stories such as Macancela’s continue to emerge around the country, and Reuters reported Friday that the Trump administration is actively targeting immigrants who have “deep ties in the United States” and who the government previously had “considered no threat to public safety.”
Already, U.S. immigration courts face a backlog of nearly 600,000 cases.
“The administration is moving forward with plans that raise the specter of mass deportation,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum. “In both words and action, the administration is betraying American values.
“Fear in immigrant communities makes local law enforcement’s job a lot tougher. Growers, builders and others who depend on the immigrant community will scale back production. Churches with Hispanic congregations will sense the fear in a visceral way.
“There is no place in America for rhetoric and actions that serve to criminalize millions of people. We’re talking about people whose trust law enforcement counts on to keep us safe, who are part of a healthy economy for American workers and who are part of the fabric of our churches and schools.
“The administration’s approach is a serious challenge to the values we hold dear.”