Former ICE director Tom Homan appeared before a House subcommittee Wednesday ready for a fight – and he got one.
During a hearing held by the House Oversight Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee, Homan insisted that Democrats were pushing a false narrative that the Trump administration was ending deferred action -- a type of deportation reprieve -- for illegal immigrants with medical issues. The hearing room erupted when Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., challenged his account, in starkly personal terms.
“I think it’s important to really make sure that the jingoistic, bigoted testimony of Mr. Homan is called out as nearly completely untrue, as being an outrage, and as a former official directing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, he should know better,” she said.
“What did I say was inaccurate?” Homan shot back, as Chairman Jamie Raskin, D-Md., intervened to restore order.
“I just think it’s important that it’s not accepted as accurate testimony.” She went on to question other witnesses on the panel, but did not ask anything of Homan.
Homan, who is a Fox News contributor, finally responded to Wasserman-Schultz when Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, had his turn. After responding to one of Jordan’s questions, Homan turned his attention to the Florida Democrat, who used to lead the Democratic National Committee.
“If I can respond to the earlier remark from Wasserman Schultz, I’ve forgotten more about this issue than you’ll ever know,” he said. “So if you say my testimony is inaccurate, it’s wrong. Everything I said here is accurate. Bottom line. If you want to go toe to toe, I’m here. I’m here on my own time to speak to the American people about what’s false and what’s fact.”
“I’m happy to go toe to toe with you Mr. Homan,” Wasserman Schultz responded. “I’m happy to do that any day.”
“Then you gotta let me respond to your question rather than dropping a bomb and running away,” Homan fired back, to which Wasserman Schultz said, “It was my time.”
Homan’s defense of the Trump administration was that while Democrats are claiming the medical deferred action program is going away, the only change is that decisions on who gets deferred action are now being made by ICE instead of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is not a law enforcement agency.
“It is not lawful to have a deferred action program at any federal agency,” he said during his opening remarks. He clarified that deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion that had to be made on a “case by case basis” and “even then only by the relevant prosecution agency … that has the statutory authority over those laws.” He said it was untrue that the administration was getting rid of medical deferred action entirely.
“It doesn’t help to have a mixed message that all of a sudden deferred action is going away,” he said later on. “ICE doesn’t put their heart on a shelf when they wear the badge and gun and all of a sudden don’t care about humanity. It’s ridiculous. It’s a ridiculous false narrative, and I’m going to be here 'till the day I die defending the men and women of the Border Patrol and ICE who put it on the line defending this country.”
Prior to the hearing, Homan appeared on Fox News claiming that Democrats were taking what was happening “out of context … to raise hatred against the administration,” and that he was going to defend his former agency.
“I’m not going there to look for a fight, but I’m not going to run away from one either,” he said.