This week, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) dismissed comparisons between his agents and Nazis with an argument that was used by Nazis.
During an interview with Tucker Carlson of Fox News on Monday, Thomas Homan was asked to respond to people comparing "your behavior to those of the Nazis" amid the agency's forced separations of parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border. "I think it’s an insult to the brave men and women of the border patrol and ICE to call law enforcement officers Nazis," said Homan. "They are simply enforcing laws enacted by Congress."
Homan's excuse is otherwise known as the "Nuremberg defense." During the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, former Nazi officers argued for their innocence by saying they were just following orders.
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Acting ICE director Thomas Homan, without any sense of irony, tells @TuckerCarlson that he objects to people comparing ICE to Nazis because they "are simply enforcing laws enacted by Congress." pic.twitter.com/Jwqnnd3C0C— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 19, 2018
Besides that rhetorical technique, Homan's statement was a lie — one frequently used by members of the Trump administration over the last week. No laws required the forced separations of migrant parents and children. That was part of the Trump administration "zero tolerance" policy put in place by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Apr. 4.
Today the Guardian reported that 2,342 children had been separated from adults at the border between May 5 and June 9.
Although today President Trump signed an executive order reversing his own policy to do the separations — after days in which he and top GOP officials insisted that only Congress could stop them — it is unclear how that is going to work. Experts say there is no mechanism in place to reunite the parents with their seized children, and some may never be reunited.
In Monday's interview, Homan said he wished people arguing against the Trump administration's policy would show anger about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. “Let’s protect American citizens as much as you’re fighting for the illegal alien.”
That is a misleading argument often used by the president himself. Although Trump has attempted to paint Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and tie them to the Los Angeles-founded gang MS-13, numerous studies have shown that immigrants have not increased crime in the United States and are not more likely to commit crime than natural-born citizens.