by Jason Hopkins
Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib and former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) chief Thomas Homan traded barbs on Wednesday after the freshman lawmaker attacked his tenure atop the agency.
The House Oversight and Reform committee held a hearing Wednesday regarding the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and its “medical action deferment” program. The program allows illegal immigrants suffering from deadly illnesses to avoid deportation if they are receiving life-saving treatment not available in their home countries.
The agency attracted controversy in late August when it announced it would no longer allow essential medical treatment in the U.S. to be a basis to prevent deportation, and would instead defer applications to ICE. However, amid public backlash, the agency reversed course shortly afterwards and said it would reconsider applications.
During the House Oversight hearing, Tlaib took time out of her speech to specifically target Homan, who formerly served as President Donald Trump’s acting ICE director. Homan was a part of the panel that spoke before the committee.
“Mr. Homan, as a fellow American I just want you to know, your contribution as acting director of ICE under this administration will always be remembered as one that was very ruthless and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers,” Tlaib said Wednesday during her closing remarks.
“I’m deeply troubled by your opening statement and continued assault on innocent lives, and I ask that this administration please stop playing politics with the lives of the children before this committee, but also with the lives of many Americans that are directly impacted by the continued broken immigration system in our country,” the Michigan congresswoman said.
Homan asked the committee to be given a chance to respond, but New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria-Cortez, who was presiding over the committee at the time, would not allow it. She instead said the next member who was up to speak — Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy — could give up some of his own time to allow Homan a rebuttal.
Homan was given a chance to respond after a brief exchange about the medical deferment program and how ICE would manage it.
“Let’s be frank on what ICE does. ICE last year took [enough] opioids off the street of this country that could have killed every man, woman and child in the United States twice. They’ve arrested thousands of sexual predators that preyed on children. They rescued thousands of children who were victims of predators. They’ve arrested hundreds of women who were victims of sex trafficking,” the former ICE chief said. “I am proud of the agency and ICE.”
Homan then noted that “nearly 90%” of the illegal migrants his agency arrests for immigration violations carry either a criminal background or a pending criminal charge upon apprehension.
“[This means they were] found in the county jail, which most likely means they weren’t a choir boy,” he continued. “I find it appalling that a member of Congress would throw that out there like that. In my 34 years, I’ve never seen such hate toward a law enforcement agency in my life.”
At that point in his response, Ocasio-Cortez told him his time was up, and began to bang the gavel in order to make him stop talking.
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Jason Hopkins is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Rashida Tlaib” by DC Shorts.