- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2019

Thomas Homan, the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, repeatedly clashed with Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill Friday over issues at the border and criticisms of border agents.

The House Oversight and Reform committee’s hearing got off to an emotional start with several Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, testifying to the deplorable conditions they saw during their visits to a Customs Border Patrol detention facility over the Fourth of July recess.

The fireworks only continued when Mr. Homan joined the panel for the hearing’s second half and went to bat to push lawmakers to support the agents or change the laws.

His first heated exchange came after Jennifer Costello, the acting inspector general for DHS, told Rep. Gerry Connolly that her team found that CBP agents were doing their “level best” to provide care to those in the detention facilities. She explained that the conditions were dangerous, but a cause could not be determined.

Mr. Connolly shot down Mr. Homan’s attempt to interject, reminding him, “You’re not at the border. This is my time.”

The former ICE director repeatedly called on members of Congress to close loopholes in current immigration law and repeal the Flores settlement agreement that limits how long a child can be detained, while blaming Democrats for waiting so long to appropriate emergency funds for humanitarian assistance.

“This isn’t about enforcing the law. If anyone on this panel doesn’t like what’s going on, then change the law. You’re the legislature. We’re the executive branch,” he said. “Don’t blame the men and women in uniform doing the best they can. It’s outrageous. This is political theater at it’s best.”

Mr. Homan grew increasingly frustrated throughout the hearing, at one point arguing that no one was listening or heeding his warnings after he witnessed deaths on the border.

He also clashed with Rep. Chuy Garcia, who criticized the administration’s metering policy and suggesting Mr. Homan was unsympathetic to the suffering of immigrant children for racial reasons.

“How could you have possibly allowed this under your watch?” Mr. Garcia asked. “Do you not care? Is it because they don’t look like children that are around you?”

Mr. Homan shot back that the allegation was “disgusting” and said he held a 5-year-old immigrant boy in his arms as he died.

“I’ve served my country 34 years,” he said. “For you to sit there and insult my integrity and my love of my country and for children, that’s why this whole thing needs to be fixed.”

“You’re the member of Congress — fix it,” he said.

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