WASHINGTON – Under questioning from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) about the Trump administration’s implementation of a “zero tolerance” policy at the border, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan said U.S. citizens get separated from their families if they commit crimes.
Ocasio-Cortez mentioned a memo Homan had signed, referring to him as the “author” of family separation. Homen told the committee that the memo included a “zero tolerance” policy as one of several recommendations to “secure the border and save lives.”
“Zero tolerance was interpreted as the policy that separated the children from their parents,” Ocasio-Cortez said to Homan on Friday during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing titled, The Trump Administration’s Child Separation Policy: Substantiated Allegations of Mistreatment.
“If I get arrested for DUI and I have a young child in the car I’m going to be separated,” Homan replied. “When I was a police officer in New York and I arrested a father for domestic violence, I separated that father from his family.”
“Mr. Homan, with all due respect, legal asylees are not charged with any crime,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“When you’re in this country illegally, it’s violation 8, United States Code 1325,” he answered.
“Seeking asylum is legal,” she shot back.
“If you want to seek asylum, you go through a port of entry. Do it the legal way. The attorney general of the United States has made that clear,” he said.
“Okay,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Later in the hearing, Homan said the crisis at the border would get “a hell of a lot worse” if there is “no deterrence” or “consequence” for trying to enter the U.S. illegally.
“No one has experienced what I have experienced. I saw many dead bodies come across this border,” Homan said, referencing the memo he signed that included the zero-tolerance policy as one way to “stop death” at the border. “If you want to legalize illegal immigration, good luck with that because it’s going to get a hell of a lot worse at that border if you say we’ll create, from now on, there will be no consequence, no deterrence.”