Thomas Homan, the top official of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a supporter of hard-line immigration policies, announced Monday that he will retire in June.
A former Border Patrol agent who led the agency at a time when immigration arrests increased by 40 percent, Homan was nominated in November by Trump to be director of ICE, but his nomination stalled as the Homeland Security Department never submitted the required paperwork. According to the Wall Street Journal, that delay resulted in part from hesitation from Homan, who felt frustrated and undermined by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen—including when she did not move forward with his recommendation to separate parents and children when they cross the border so all parents could be prosecuted. (Nielsen praised Homan in a memo, and her office said the Journal mischaracterized their relationship.)
Senate Democrats, who largely oppose Homan’s immigration policies, sent a letter on Friday to Nielsen to ask why DHS had not provided the paperwork for his nomination, suggesting DHS was afraid to place him in the position of answering questions under oath. (According to the Washington Post, Homan was in limbo long enough that at a certain point he could not legally be called an “acting director” any longer and instead was given the title “Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director.”)
But according to the Journal, Homan had already been preparing for retirement when Trump took office, and he told Nielsen of his decision to retire in February. Nielsen encouraged him to wait so as to not contribute to a period of high turnover rate in the senior levels of the Trump administration.
On Monday, however, Homan said his retirement had to do with family matters. “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,” he said in a statement.