Update (6/14/19): President Trump announced in a June 14 interview on "Fox & Friends" that he was hiring Tom Homan back into his administration as a “border czar.” This piece has also been updated with additional information.
Tom Homan, once President Donald Trump’s acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has become a major source of misinformation on Fox News about immigration. Homan associated himself with anti-immigrant bigotry during and after his tenure in government, left a legacy of cruel actions against immigrants, and continued espousing anti-immigrant rhetoric after joining Fox News as a contributor in August 2018.
Homan is a major source of immigration misinformation at Fox
Homan began appearing exclusively on Fox News in the latter months of his leadership of ICE and joined Fox as a contributor after he retired in June 2018. But even before his retreat to Fox, Homan spread and inspired misinformation in conservative media sphere.
- In October 2017, Homan falsely suggested that an undocumented immigrant may have been responsible for the devastating wildfires in California, a claim that was repeated by right-wing websites. Local law enforcement officials were forced to debunk, what they called, Homan’s "inaccurate," "inflammatory," and "damaging" statement.
- During February 2018, Homan went on Fox & Friends and falsely blamed the mayor of Oakland, CA, for the agency’s failure to arrest hundreds of immigrants it was seeking. Multiple Fox News shows parroted Homan’s claim after this Fox appearance. The claim also appeared in an official statement by the agency. An ICE spokesperson later resigned in protest over Homan’s lie.
- Under Homan’s tenure at ICE, the agency often wrongly accused immigrants of being gang members as a pretext to arrest them. Fox hosts and guests also repeatedly mentioned gangs in the context of immigration. In August, Homan pushed other falsehoods about MS-13 and immigration.
- In June 2018, Homan appeared on America’s Newsroom and used a misleading statistic about fake families at the border to justify Trump’s policy of taking children away from their parents in detention.
- According to an April 2018 HuffPost profile of Homan, he repeatedly mislead about the risks of violence ICE officers faced. The narrative eventually reached Fox as host Trish Regan recently claimed that ICE officers are “risking their lives in many cases” while performing their duties, even though not a single ICE officer has been killed by an immigrant, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
- In August 2018, weeks after Homan stepped down from ICE, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade credited him as the source of a misleading statistic about ICE arrests of immigrants under the Trump administration, falsely claiming that “nine out of every 10” immigrants that ICE arrests “have criminal records.”
- Also in August 2018, Homan pushed the false smear on Fox & Friends that Democrats want “open borders,” which Fox figures often claim when discussing Democrats’ views on immigration. In November, he acknowledged that “with the help of Fox News,” he and Trump are getting the message across that some Democrats’ call for “abolishing ICE equals open borders.”
- In January, Homan supported the Trump administration’s false claim that thousands of terrorists attempted to cross the southern border by insisting that “terrorists do come across that southern border” and that we should shift the focus away from “how many terrorists have been arrested entering the country illegally” to “how many did Border Patrol not catch.”
- In March, Homan blamed California’s sanctuary law for the death of a police officer he referred to as “Singh.” A December 2018 Reason article about the killing of California police officer Ronil Singh by an immigrant named Gustavo Perez Arriaga explained that ICE never requested that Arriaga be held for deportation after his previous arrests -- meaning sanctuary policies had no role in the suspect’s presence in the country.
- In June, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said families who are applying for asylum are “not showing up in court” for their hearings -- echoing a lie from Homan in May that “almost nine out of 10 families, aren't making it to court.”
Homan has also associated himself with anti-immigrant bigotry
- In April 2017, several months after Homan took charge of ICE, he hired an analyst from an anti-immigrant hate group the Center for Immigration Studies as an adviser. Just days before he retired in June 2018, Homan also sat down for an interview at an event CIS hosted, where he dubiously linkedsanctuary city policies to the increased security risk for immigration officers and called for changing asylum law to make it harder for asylum-seekers to obtain it.
- During his time in government service, Homan reportedly used a slur in his work that glorified violence against immigrants, according to HuffPost.
- In September 2018, following his retirement from ICE and the start of his employment at Fox News, Homan attended as a special honoree a conference organized by the anti-Muslim hate group ACT for America.
Homan left a reproachful legacy at ICE by spreading fear among and about immigrants and defending Trump’s inhumane policies which led to immigrant deaths in detention
- In June 2017, Homan said in congressional testimony all undocumented immigrants “should be afraid” of actions by the Trump administration.
- In January 2018, Homan called for criminal charges against local government leaders of so-called sanctuary cities.
- In June 2018, Homan defended Trump’s inhumane family separation policy and said “you’d have to put the blame on the parents” for immigration officials taking their children away.
- Deportation of immigrants with no criminal convictions nearly tripled under Homan’s first year as acting ICE director, doubling the proportion of noncriminals that made up immigration arrests from 13% in 2016 to 26%.
- ICE arrested for deportation several immigration activists, journalists, and ICE critics under Homan’s leadership, spurring accusations of improper politicization of immigration law enforcement.
- Homan advocated for detention of migrants past current legal time limit, including for pregnant women.
- Under Homan’s leadership, ICE stopped delaying deportations of individuals named in private congressional bills that would give them legal status.
- The inspector general office at Department of Homeland Security started inspections of four ICE detention facilities when Homan was still leading ICE and found “immediate risks or egregious violations of detention standards” including “nooses in detainee cells, overly restrictive segregation, inadequate medical care, unreported security incidents, and significant food safety issues.”
- ICE reportedly committed numerous other abusive actions against immigrants under Homan’s leadership, including sexually abusing detainees, arresting immigrants who report domestic abuse, and allowing several immigrants to die in detention.
Homan’s extreme anti-immigrant tendencies and defenses of Trump have continued since he joined Fox News
- In August 2018, Homan joined other conservative media in politicizing the murder of a college student.
- Also in August, Homan called for laws to “criminalize those who overstay a visa,” which is currently a civil violation.
- In October 2018, Homan praised Trump for “pushing for the rule of law” and working to “enforce the laws on the book” amid reporting on intricate and fraudulent tax-dodging schemes used by the Trump family to pass along undertaxed inheritance.
- Also in October, Homan laid the blame for a migrant caravan from Central America “at the feet of the Democratic Party up on the Hill” and accused Democrats of not caring about public safety.
- In November 2018, Homan said “there should be fear in the immigrant community” of the Trump administration.
- The same month, Homan expressed support for detaining asylum seekers in tent cities.
- In late November, Homan criticized news organizations for showing migrant families being tear gassed by Border Patrol agents.
- In December 2018, Homan was among the many right-wing media figures who urged Trump to veto spending bills that don’t fund a border wall and trigger a government shutdown.
- In January, Homan repeatedly blamed the deaths of children in Department of Homeland Security custody on the absence of a full border wall, and later in May, he blamed additional detainees’ deaths on House Democrats.
- In February, Homan openly became yet another Fox-based Trump sycophant, claiming he “is going to be recognized as one of the greatest presidents of our generation, if not the greatest” due to his harsh actions to curb immigration.
- Also in February, Homan said Democrats are helping Mexican criminal organizations and cartels.
- Later in February, Homan suggested Democrats don’t care if undocumented immigrants kill Americans.
- At the beginning of March, Homan became yet another Fox personality to claim “we’re being invaded” by migrants.
- In early March, Homan denied migrant children were being kept in cages, saying they are “chain-link dividers [that] go all the way up to the high ceiling.”
- Later in March, Homan invoked the 9/11 terror attacks to bash New York City’s “sanctuary city” policy.
- Homan repeatedly disparaged Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for highlighting ICE abuses of immigrant detainees.
- In early April, Homan encouraged Trump to close the southern border.
- He praised Trump’s threat to forcibly relocate detained immigrants to so-called sanctuary jurisdictions as “ingenious.” According to The Washington Post, ICE’s legal department had “rejected the idea as inappropriate.”
- In May, Homan fearmongered that America “will lose the border” unless individual adults seeking asylum are locked up.
- Homan also called for 100,000 immigrant families to be rounded up and deported.
- In early June, Homan complained that Democrats prevented ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants willing to serve as sponsor parents of unaccompanied children.
- Later in June, Homan supported Trump’s threat to levy tariffs on all Mexican goods unless it halts all people going through its territory on their way to the United States, even though he acknowledged the tariffs will harm the American economy.
- Homan said Democrats “should be ashamed of themselves” for extending health coverage to some undocumented immigrants in California.
This post was originally published June 12.