Thomas Homan, the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), fired back at Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.) on Thursday for his attacks on the agency, asserting the governor should be sending immigration officials 'thank you' letters, instead of insults.
The comments were made during an appearance on "Fox and Friends," where Homan, who served as acting director from January 2017 to June 2018, was asked to opine on the controversy swirling around Cuomo's claim that ICE agents "were a bunch of thugs."
Homan lambasted the governor's remarks as disgusting, especially in light of the efforts and sacrifices ICE agents—like all law enforcement officers—take to preserve public safety.
"What he's saying and his actions are disgusting," Homan said. "To call ICE agents 'thugs,' think about it these are men and women ... that chose to enforce the laws of this country ... to go out ... [to] protect America and our communities."
The former ICE official conveyed Cuomo's characterization of the agency as 'thugs' was inaccurate, saying it was the organization's responsibility to "arrest thugs." Homan also disclosed New York's sanctuary policies had made the agency's attempts to enforce federal immigration laws more difficult.
"Actually, ICE arrests 'thugs,' [such as] MS-13 members, gang members, drug traffickers," he said. "We arrested over 5,000 criminal aliens off the streets of New York and many walked out of his sanctuary jails."
Homan suggested the governor's time could better be spent writing ICE agents and expressing gratitude, instead of hurling insults.
"So, rather than calling them 'thugs," Homan added. "He [should] be writing them a thank you letter, rather than calling them names. It's ridiculous."
Cuomo made the controversial remarks on Wednesday during a televised debate with Cynthia Nixon, the former "Sex and City" actress mounting a progressive challenge for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Attempting to outflank Nixon, who has denounced ICE as a "terrorist organization" and joined the burgeoning movement on the left to abolish the agency, Cuomo pledged that under his leadership New York would not cooperate with "thugs" in enforcing federal immigration laws.
"New York state is the state that says we will not cooperate with ICE, they're a bunch of thugs," the governor said. "[Trump] has politicized ICE, they're a bunch of thugs, we said we will sue them if they violate any criminal laws in the state of New York."
This isn't the first time Cuomo has sought to position himself as a vociferous critic of the Trump administration, especially on immigration, in an effort to dash the progressive groundswell forming around Nixon.
Last month, the governor accused the Trump administration of being on a "jihad" to deport as many unlawful immigrants as possible. In April, Cuomo sent a cease-and-desist letter to ICE, claiming the agency was using "aggressive" and "un-American" tactics in immigration raids across New York. In response to the raids, the governor issued an executive order mandating ICE secure a warrant when seeking to arrest illegal immigrants in state facilities.
Cuomo's flurry of actions and his increasingly antagonistic rhetoric towards the Trump administration on immigration has been derided by Nixon and others as politically motivated, something which Homan seemed to point to as well.
"If they knew what ICE did, they would be thanking ICE [agents] for putting their lives on the line every day for this country," Homan said. "I think it's the 'in thing' for the far-Left now to say 'abolish ICE.' One thing is clear: Governor Cuomo is putting his political ambitions ... above public safety."