In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship on Thursday, former ICE Director Tom Homan criticized Acting Chairman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) for selectively noting immigration failures in the Trump administration but not disclosing that the Obama administration followed many of the same policies. "That's dishonesty, it's pathetic and it's sad," he said.
Homan also criticized the Democrats overall for not working with President Trump to secure the border. When he said that, Jayapal cut him off with a pounding gavel, to which Homan responded, "this is a circus, this is a circus."
Thursday's hearing was labeled "The Expansion and Troubling Use of ICE Detention."
In a statement, House Judiciary Chariman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said, "Over the last seven months, this Committee has devoted considerable attention to the Trump Administration’s cruel policies at the border and its attempts to deter individuals from seeking asylum and other humanitarian protections from our nation. Today, we shift our focus to examining the impact of the Administration’s approach to immigration detention in the interior of the United States."
During the hearing, Acting Chariman Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) criticized the Trump administration's handling of thousands of illegal immigrants at the border, many of whom are being held in detention centers until their claims for political asylum in the United States can be processed.
At one point in the hearing, former ICE Director Tom Homan was asked if he wanted to address some of the points made by Jayapal. He said, “I’d like to respond to Acting Chairman Jayapal and your comment about the Trump administration moving money around for more detention beds. I’d like to remind you that under the Obama administration we did that most of the years he was president. We [DHS] moved money around -- it’s called reprogramming."
"We did that under the Obama administration and I don’t remember any hearings on that," said Homan. “And I’d also like to remind you that under the Obama administration – you’re quick to point out the cages – they were built under the Obama administration. I was there."
Homan continued, “Family detention -- we had 100 family beds under the Obama administration and we built 3,000 more. When there was a surge in FY14 and FY15, Congress was quick to give all the money we needed to build detention facilities, get transportation contracts. We reprogrammed money out of the majority of the years he was president -- that was fine.”
“If this is about transparency, let’s be factual about it,” said.
Jayapal replied that she did not like it under the Obama administration either, to which Homan said, “Well, be honest with the American people. You can’t point out faults in the Trump administration when it happened under the Obama administration. That’s dishonesty. It’s pathetic and it’s sad.”
Jayapal then repeatedly banged the gavel down to silence Homan. She refused to allow him to respond further.
Later, Homan was then given some time by a Republican member of the subcommittee. He said, “Look, you want to know why there are 50,000 people in detention? You want to know why there are a million illegal entries in the United States? You want to know why we have these issues? Because you have failed to secure the border."
"You guys failed to work with this president to close the three loopholes we’ve asked for two years to close," said Homan. "If you want to know why this issue exists, you need to look in the mirror. You have failed the American people by not securing the border and closing loopholes.”
At that point, Jayapal again cut off Homan’s time and repeatedly slammed the gavel for silence.
“This is a circus," said Homan. "This is a circus.”
Earlier in the hearing, Homan criticized remarks made by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in June, when she compared the border detention centers to Nazi concentration camps.
"That comparison is 100% inaccurate and it is disgusting,” said Homan. “Now, forgive me, I didn’t think Nazi death camps had detention standards. I didn’t think they had health care. I didn’t think they had recreation, law libraries, visitation, three squares a day. It’s an insulting comparison.”