Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tom Homan says his agency does not arrest law abiding people, following recent criticisms from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and California governor Jerry Brown.
"How dare she say we are terrorizing communities," Homan said in response to March 7 comments by Nancy Pelosi following a series of arrests of undocumented residents by ICE.
"Just last week, President Trump decided to terrorize innocent immigrant families in the Bay Area with his unjust and cruel raids," Pelosi said on Wednesday, adding "[W]e will fight all cowardly attacks on our immigrant communities."
"The President has now desperately decided to brazenly abuse the legal system to push his mass deportation agenda."
Homan shot back, noting that ICE does not arrest innocent people, and that during the agency's recent operation in Los Angeles, 88% of the arrested offenders were convicted criminals - while overall, 81% of California arrests were also criminals.
“Her quote was beyond the pale,” Homan said.
The ICE director also noted that the agency was strictly enforcing existing immigration laws that Congress had empowered them to execute.
“If people don’t like it, people like Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein can certainly change the law, they are legislators,” Homan said - noting that Feinstein voted in favor of the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996 - which gave ICE the authority to conduct such arrests.
Homan also singled out Oakland's mayor, Libby Schaaf, who made headlines last week after she warned people about ICE raids taking place in the city.
“She gave them warning, and there’s 800 that we were unable to locate because of that warning, so that community is a lot less safe than it would have been,” Homan told “Fox & Friends.”
232 arrests were made during the four-day operation.
Following the Trump administration's claim of 800 undocumented immigrants who were able to avoid arrest, the San Francisco spokesman for ICE, James Schwab, resigned over what he felt was a false statement according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Schwab wanted the agency to correct the number, which he understood to be far lower, and didn’t want to deflect media questions about it, he said.
“I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts,” said Schwab, 38, who was hired in 2015 and resigned last week. “I asked them to change the information. I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn’t agree with that. Then I took some time and I quit.” -SF Chronicle
“I didn’t feel like fabricating the truth to defend ourselves against (Schaaf’s) actions was the way to go about it,” said Schwab. “We were never going to pick up that many people. To say that 100 percent are dangerous criminals on the street, or that those people weren’t picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong.”
The Trump administration sued California last week over three laws it says hinders its ability to enforce federal immigration laws.
In response, Governor Jerry Brown, 79, exclaimed "We're going to war" at a Wednesday press conference.
“This is really unprecedented for the chief law enforcement officer of the United States to come out to California and act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer. This is a political stunt,” Brown said.
“We know the Trump administration is full of liars. They’ve pled guilty already to the special counsel.”
Then he kicked it up a notch:
“This is basically going to war against the state of California, the engine of the American economy. It’s not wise, it’s not right, and it will not stand,” Brown said.
Appearing with Brown, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said his office would mount a spirited defense of the three state laws. Becerra said the lawsuit would fail.
“The lawsuit challenges some of our state laws which are again fully constitutional and provide for the safety and welfare of all of our people,” Becerra said.
“The 10th amendment provides California with the right to decline to participate in civil immigration enforcement.”
Becerra said the Trump administration had opened itself to the discovery process, which would allow California lawyers to dig into the internal debate over the lawsuit, which could drag on for years.
“This lawsuit is going to last a lot longer than the Trump administration,” Brown predicted.