Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan Discusses California Sanctuary State Law

Friday, November 10, 2017
By Maureen Cavanaugh, Megan Burke
Credit: AP
Above: Thomas D. Homan, acting Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Washington.

California recently became the first state in the country to declare itself a sanctuary state for residents who came to the country illegally. The move was applauded by many in California, but it was sharply criticized by the U.S. Department of Justice and by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In an interview with KPBS Midday Edition, Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said ICE has to make changes in California because of the sanctuary state law.

"There's been a lot of press out there saying that I have threatened that we're going to arrest people in their communities, arrest people at worksites as retaliation for this. No," Homan said. "I have to arrest a public safety threat and if I can't arrest them in the safety and security of the county jail, my job is to arrest them, which means now I have to go in to the community and arrest this person. What the politicians want to make it sound like (is) 'Oh we're protecting the immigrant community.' No, what they actually did is put immigrant communities on our radar."

RELATED: California Becomes ‘Sanctuary State’ As Governor Signs Bill

Next week, KPBS and inewsource will present special coverage on the Trump administration's effort to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In preparation for that coverage, KPBS Midday Edition spoke with Homan about how his office views the new sanctuary state law and what it means for people living in California illegally.