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Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan Discusses California Sanctuary State Law

November 10, 2017 12:40 p.m.

Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan Discusses California Sanctuary State Law

GUEST:

Thomas Homan, acting director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Related Story: Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan Discusses California Sanctuary State Law

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

DIRECTOR HELLMAN, THE CENTURY STATE LAW DOES NOT GO INTO EFFECT IN CALIFORNIA UNTIL JANUARY 1, HOW DO YOU SEE THE LAW AFFECTING YOUR OPERATIONS HERE?IT SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECTS OUR OPERATIONS. ANY LAW THAT WILL ALLOW THE RELEASE OF A PUBLIC SAFETY THREAT BACK INTO THE PUBLIC DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. THAT DOES NOT PROTECT THE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY OR THE OFFICERS OUT THERE DOING THEIR JOB. IT CERTAINLY MAKES IT HARDER FOR MY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS, RATHER TAKING CUSTODY OF A THREAT INSIDE THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF A COUNTY JAIL, IT MEANS OFFICERS NOW HAVE TO KNOCK ON A DOOR, WHICH IS A SIGNIFICANT OFFICER SAFETY ISSUE.Reporter: THERE ARE A NUMBER OF SERIOUS CRIMES THAT CALIFORNIA HAS A DESIGNATED THAT ICE WILL BE CONTACTED BEFORE THE INMATES ARE RELEASED. BUT, ARE YOU THINKING OF MAKING CHANGES TO THE WAY AGENTS WORK IN CALIFORNIA, IN RESPONSE TO THE SANCTUARY LAW?WE HAVE TO. I KNOW THAT THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF PRESS SAYING THAT I HAVE THREATENED -- THAT WE ARE GOING TO ARREST PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITIES, AND ARREST PEOPLE AT WORK SITES IN RETALIATION FOR THIS. NO, WHAT WAS LAUDED WAS IT PUT US IN A POSITION -- MY JOB IS TO ENFORCE IMMIGRATION LAW. LIKE IT OR NOT, THAT IS MY JOB. ENFORCING LAWS THAT CONGRESS ENACTED. SO I HAVE TO ARREST A PUBLIC SAFETY THREAT, IT IS I CANNOT ARREST THEM IN THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF THE COUNTY JAIL, MY JOB IS TO NOW GO INTO THE COMMUNITY, AND THE REST OF THIS PERSON. THE POLITICIANS WANT TO MAKE IT SOUND LIKE WE WILL PROTECT THE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY, NO -- WHAT THEY DID WAS ACTUALLY PUT THE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY ON OUR RADAR NOW, BECAUSE IF I WANT TO ARREST THE BAD GUY, IN THE COUNTY JAIL, I WOULD HAVE ARRESTED JUST HIM, BUT NOW THEY ARE RELEASING THE COMMUNITY. I WILL GO TO HIS HOME OR PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT. HE MAY BE WITH OTHER PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN IMMIGRATION ISSUE IN THIS COUNTRY, WHICH THEY WOULD NOT HAVE EVEN BEEN ON MY RADAR BEFORE, BUT NOW I HAVE LOCATED THEM AND THEY ARE THERE IN FRONT OF ME. I WILL THEN HAVE TO TAKE ACTION AS REQUIRED UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDERS, THEY WERE NOT ON MY RADAR AND NOW THEY ARE. THEY ACTUALLY PUT THE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY AT INCREASED RISK OF ARREST BY DOING WHAT HE DID. AND NOT FOR RETALIATORY REASONS, BECAUSE THEY HAVE FORCED ME TO MAKE AN ARREST IN AN AREA WHERE WE WILL FIND OTHERS.Reporter: NOW OUR SAN DIEGO SHERIFF HAS SAID HE DOES HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT LOW LEVEL REPEAT OFFENDERS NOT BEING PICKED UP THE WAY THEY USED TO BE BY I SMACK AS THEY ARE RELEASED FROM COUNTY JAILS. BUT HE ALSO SAYS HE DOES NOT THINK THIS WHOLE SANCTUARY STATE THING WILL HAVE A BIG EFFECT ON SAN DIEGO, BECAUSE WHAT HE SAYS IS -- A VERY SMALL PERCENTAGE OF UNDOCUMENTED PEOPLE GET ARRESTED HERE, MOST ARE WORKING, TRYING TO MAKE A BETTER LIFE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. MY QUESTION IS, DOES IT MATTER TO ICE IF AN UNDOCUMENTED PERSON IS AN OFFENDER, OR JUST USING -- LIVING HIS OR HER LIFE, AS FAR AS IF THEY GET PICKED UP?ACCORDING TO THE ORDERS SIGNED BY THE PRESIDENT ARE CLEAR. EVERYONE IS ON THE TABLE. IF ANYONE KNOWINGLY VIOLATES LAWS IN THIS COUNTRY, OR ENTERS THE COUNTRY ILLEGALLY IS A CRIME. SO, BY MERELY ENTERING THIS COUNTRY THEY HAVE COMMITTED A CRIME. NOW, LET ME SAY THAT ICE STILL PRIORITIZES THOSE WHO ARE CRIMINALS AND NATIONAL SECURITY THREATS. IN THE NEXT WEEK OR SO WE WILL SEE THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE THAT WE ARREST HAVE CRIMINAL HISTORIES. SO, WE ARE PRIORITIZING. BUT WHAT I AM SAYING IS -- FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT COMMIT A CRIME AFTER THEY ENTER THE STATES, AND OTHER CRIME, WE ARE LOOKING FOR THEM. AND THAT IS THE WAY THAT IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE.SERIOUS CRIME AND HOMICIDE RATES ARE SLIGHTLY LOWER IN SANCTUARY CITIES. HOW DOES THAT SQUARE WITH ICE'S CONTENTION THAT COMMUNITY WAS MAKE IT MORE DANGEROUS?LET ME SAY THAT -- DO ILLEGAL ALIENS COMMIT MORE CRIMES THAN US-BORN PERSONS? HERE IS WHAT I WILL SAY. FOR EVERY CRIME COMMITTED BY ILLEGAL ALIENS IN THIS COUNTRY, IT IS PREVENTABLE CRIME. SO I DON'T CARE IF IT IS 100,000, 10,000, THEY COULD HAVE MORE OR LESS THAN US CITIZENS, BUT EVERY CRIME COMMITTED BY SOMEONE WHO IS IN THE US ILLEGALLY SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED BECAUSE THEY SHOULD NOT BE HERE. SO, WHEN PEOPLE WANT TO SEE WHERE THE CRIMES LAY -- LOOK AT CHICAGO. THEY HAVE THE HIGHEST CRIME RATE IN THEIR HISTORY, ARE THEY DOING EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO PROTECT THE TAXPAYERS AND THE CITIZENS? NO. WHY NOT? BECAUSE IF YOU ARE AN ILLEGAL ALIEN IN CHICAGO WHEN YOU GET ARRESTED FOR A SERIOUS CRIMINAL OFFENSE, ICE IS NOT ALLOWED INTO THEIR JAILS, THEY DO NOT ACCEPT DETAINERS, THEY WILL NOT NOTIFY US IF THEY GET RELEASED, THESE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO GO BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY. IF YOU LOOK AT THE RECIDIVISM RATES IN THE COUNTRY, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GOOGLE IT -- AT LEAST 50% OF THEM REOFFEND IN THE FIRST YEAR .75% REOFFEND WITHIN FIVE YEARS.Reporter: SOME ICE AND BORDER PATROL AGENTS HAVE SAID THAT THEY FEEL NOW, UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP, THEY CAN FINALLY DO THEIR JOBS. IS THAT A PREVAILING FEELING? YOU THINK THAT ICE AGENTS HAVE BEEN TRUMP -- FRUSTRATED WITH PAST ADMINISTRATION POLICY?ABSOLUTELY. I MYSELF AM FRUSTRATED. WE HAVE A JOB THAT WE HAVE ALL TAKEN AN OATH TO ENFORCE THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY, AND NOT BEING ABLE TO DO SO HAS BEEN A HUGE MORALE ISSUE. BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO DO IT, THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY AND IN THE LEGAL STATUS, AND THAT WHOLE METRIC HAS CHANGED NOW. NOW WE ARE HOLDING PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE, THE FLOW ON THE BORDERS IS AT A 45 YEAR LOW THIS YEAR. AND THERE HAS NOT BEEN ONE FOOT OF WALL PUT UP. THE NUMBERS ARE DOWN BECAUSE WE ARE SENDING A CLEAR MESSAGE, THERE IS NO FREE PASS ANYMORE. YOU ENTER THE COUNTRY ILLEGALLY, YOU VIOLATE THE LAWS OF A SOVEREIGN COUNTRY, YOU ARE GOING TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.Reporter: I HAVE BEEN SPEAKING WITH CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT DIRECTOR THOMAS HELLMAN. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.