The University of Pennsylvania shut down an event Wednesday on immigrant detention and deportation after student protesters demonstrated against retired ICE Director Tom Homan's appearance on the panel.
Appearing on "Fox & Friends: First" with anchors Todd Piro and Carley Shimkus, Homan said that he had received a warning before he even got on the train to Philadelphia that there was a petition from over 500 students and alumni to cancel the event. The petition also called for the university to ban all invitations to current or former ICE or U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials.
Dozens of people from other universities had also signed the petition, including students from Columbia University, Cornell University, Brown University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
"Under Homan, ICE continued to be a violent organization responsible for terrorizing immigrant communities...inviting Homan as a guest speaker contradicts Penn's claim of being a sanctuary campus," the petition read.
Homan told Piro and Shimkus that the petition was ignorant and that "the ones who want to shout down a meaningful discussion — they will remain ignorant."
The event, held at the campus's Perry World House, was entitled "Detention and Deportation from Obama to Trump" and Homan was joined onstage by the Director of Children and Family Services at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Andrew Lorenzen-Strait and partner at Decert LLP Sozi Tulante.
The event page description said that the three would join for a "frank conversation on recent policy changes" and "what's next for detention and deportation in the United States."
However, Homan said the protests began as soon as the event's emcee approached the podium.
"And, they should have [done] the research on me. I won't be bullied," he said. "Tom Homan spent his career enforcing the laws of this country. I did it for 34 years under six presidents. Nothing changed."
"And," he added, "[as a] matter of fact, the Trump administration's actually removed less illegal aliens than the Obama administration did. So I don't know why all this hate and racist ... where was all that back there? We never heard of it."
Campus security eventually decided to empty the event room, and the panelists were then escorted off the stage.
Homan said that while he did get to talk with a small group of students for around an hour after the protests, the situation was "unfortunate."
Earlier in the month, former acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan was shouted off a stage by protesters at Georgetown University Law Center's annual immigration conference.
"The sad part is – I was watching the reaction on their faces – they were [as] disgusted as I was," Homan said. "They were there to ask pointed questions."
"This is a serious issue," he asserted. "Thirty-one percent of women are being raped making this journey. Children are dying. This is a big issue for this country and it deserves conversation and debate."