Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), plans to retire in June, despite President Trump tapping him to lead the agency permanently.
Homan will announce his retirement on Monday at a ceremony hosted by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, where he will receive the foundation’s Law Enforcement Leader of the Year award.
Homan plans to leave due to “family and personal considerations,” said Liz Johnson, his spokeswoman, adding that he made his retirement plans before Trump took office.
“It has been the honor of my life to lead the men and women of ICE for more than a year. The decision to leave federal service after more than 34 years is bittersweet, but my family has sacrificed a lot in order for me to serve and it’s time for me to focus on them,” Homan said in a statement.
Homan, who was appointed by former President Obama to head ICE’s deportation operations in 2013, quickly became a vocal supporter of Trump’s hard-line immigration policies.
“This president, like him or love him, is doing the right thing,” Homan said in December.
Still, Homan’s tenure in the Trump administration was all on borrowed time.
Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Homan held a retirement party at ICE. He plans to move to a private sector job at consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
White House chief of staff John Kelly, then the newly minted secretary of Homeland Security, called Homan as he was leaving the retirement party to offer the top job at ICE.
In November, Trump tapped Homan to lead the agency permanently, but his nomination has been stalled in the Senate.
Homan’s role as head of ICE and his effusive support of Trump have made him one of the top targets for Democrats who say the president’s immigration policies are excessive.
Homan stuck to a strict interpretation of immigration laws and removed as much as possible categories of immigrants in the country illegally who would not be prosecuted by ICE.
He famously said immigrants in the United States illegally “should be afraid,” earning him rebuke from immigration doves and Democrats.
And Republicans have a razor-thin margin for confirmations in the Senate.
Because of Sen. John McCain‘s (R-Ariz.) prolonged health-related absence, all Republicans plus Vice President Pence would have to vote in favor if Democrats banded together against Homan.
Senate Democrats last week demanded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) release documents on Homan’s tenure, implying some of the changes to immigration enforcement procedure have been illegal.
Still, Homan has been a substantial part in raising employee morale at ICE.
The agency’s arrests have risen sharply under Homan as part of the Trump administration’s push to crack down on illegal immigration.
Homan had a 33-year career in law enforcement, with nearly 30 of those years in immigration enforcement.
“I am humbled and inspired by the 20,000 American patriots who serve this agency and protect our nation, increasingly in the face of unfair and false criticism from politicians and the media,” said Homan.
“Because of their tremendous dedication and hard work, we have made significant progress this past year in enforcing our nation’s immigration and customs laws, and in protecting public safety and national security. I will continue to be a strong advocate for the workforce and for the ICE mission,” he added.
BY RAFAEL BERNAL – 04/30/18 02:24 PM EDT
Avery Anapol contributed.