President Donald Trump is considering Thomas Homan, former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to succeed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, three people familiar with the process told POLITICO.
Politico Homan’s name has surfaced amid a flurry of media reports that Nielsen could be asked to resign before the end of the month.
Tapping Homan to run the Department of Homeland Security would almost certainly energize Trump’s base. The tough-talking lawman once recommended charging so-called sanctuary city politicians “with crimes” and has pugnaciously defended even Trump’s most controversial immigration moves, including separating children from their parents at the border.
“Trump wants John Wayne on the border and Tom Homan is John Wayne,” said a former Homeland Security official, who cited Homan’s frequent, and often fiery appearances on cable news as a part of his résumé that Trump would especially like.
Homan joins a list of possible new DHS chiefs that has been growing in recent days as rumors swirled that Nielsen is on her way out. According to a senior White House official, the president has been itching to fire Nielsen for months over what he views as weak leadership on border security, along with other enforcement policies that he has sought to implement.
Tapping Homan would send a strong law-and-order signal. An ex-cop who later became a Border Patrol agent and rose to a senior-level role during the Obama administration, Homan was named acting director of ICE shortly after Trump took office.
As the top official at the law enforcement agency, Homan was responsible for implementing some of the president’s most contentious immigration policies, including increasing the number of arrests of people living in the U.S. illegally and battling local jurisdictions that refused to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
Homan has appeared on Fox News several times as a contributor since retiring from ICE, including last month when he applauded Trump for threatening to deploy thousands of U.S. troops to the border to assist Border Patrol agents preparing for the arrival of a caravan of Central American migrants.