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In an interview with Fox News, Tom Homan, who was the director of ICE between January 2017 and June 2018 said: “I mean are you kidding me? 10,000 people per year die from DUIs (Driving under the influence of alcohol). 28 people a day die from DUIs.
“I’d rather put an illegal alien in jail for DUI than white collar bank fraud. It isn’t about if it’s a felony or misdemeanour, it’s about is it a public safety threat, and it’s threatening the American citizens.”
It was not clear whether he meant he would rather jail illegal immigrants who were caught drink driving over anybody committing “white collar bank fraud”, or whether he was referring to illegal immigrants who were somehow managing to commit “white collar bank fraud” - of which there are likely to be very few.
Mr Homan’s comments were met with outrage. Many on Twitter pointed out he was presenting a false dichotomy as arresting people for drink driving and arresting people for bank fraud is not an either/or situation and both are possible.
Instead it was suggested the remarks revealed Mr Homan’s prejudices and several people accused him of racism.
Others pointed out it was not the job of a law enforcement officer “to determine which laws are not worth enforcing”.
Last year Mr Homan defended the Trump administration’s policy of separating parents and children at the US-Mexico border when they had entered the country illegally.
“Those who choose to come between the ports of entry are committing a crime,” Mr Homan said, according to Time magazine.
“Children and parents get separated every day across this country when a parent is charged with a criminal offence. It’s sad to see children cry when you take a parent out of a home, but because it’s sad, doesn’t mean that we ignore the law.”
He added: “You can like or love this president, but no president has done more for border security and public safety than this president. You cannot deny that.”
According to Forbes the cost of white collar crimes in America is over $500bn a year.