ICE chief won’t say if family separation policy is humane

"I think it's the law."

Acting Director of ICE, Thomas Homan (Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Acting Director of ICE, Thomas Homan (Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), appeared on CNN Tuesday evening to defend the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the southern border.

According to a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, 2,000 migrant children were separated from their parents between April 19 and May 31.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Homan if he believes the policy is humane.

“From your perspective, and you have a distinguished career in law enforcement and we’re grateful for the important work you did, but is this new zero-tolerance policy that the president has supported that the attorney general announced, is it humane?” Blitzer asked.

After pausing a stumbling a bit, Homan deflected and said, “I think — I think it is the law.”

There is, of course, no law requiring mothers and fathers to be separated from their parents at the border. The president’s hands are not tied. The policy could end with a simple phone call to the Department of Justice.


Instead, children are left wailing for their mothers and fathers at shelters, unsure of when they will be reunited. That fear is not unfounded, as the government currently has no plan for family reunifications.

Ever since the Trump administration’s policy was announced, medical professionals have voiced their concerns about the lasting damage it may inflict on the children who are being taken away from their parents.

A recent letter from the American Psychological Association (APA) suggested the policy could induce long-lasting psychological trauma among the children.

“Sudden and unexpected family separation, such as separating families at the border, can add to that stress, leading to emotional trauma in children,” it read. “Research also suggests that the longer that parents and children are separated, the greater the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression are for children.”

In spite of this, Homan spent the majority of Tuesday night’s interview driving home the point that law enforcement officials are simply “enforcing laws enacted by Congress.”

If the blame doesn’t lie with the Trump administration, then whose fault is it? According to Homan, the parents of migrant children — many of whom are fleeing violence in their home countries — are to blame.

“I think what’s inhumane… is to have your kids smuggled into this country,” Homan said.

“The parents are making a choice. They’re choosing, they are taking it upon themselves to enter illegally and have the children taken away. So if anybody is to blame here, it is the parents who made a decision to break the law.”


Homan goes on to add that seeking asylum through a non-port of entry is a misdemeanor crime and therefore child separation is justified.

“We’re just enforcing the law,” Homan repeated.