WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said on Friday that he planned to appoint Thomas Homan, his former acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a fierce supporter of his policies during frequent appearances on Fox News, to oversee border policy in the White House.
“He’ll be a border czar,” Trump said during a phone interview on “Fox and Friends.” “He’ll be very much involved in the border. He’ll be reporting directly to me. He’ll be probably working out of the White House but spending a lot of time at the border. And he’s a good man. He’s a good man.”
The appointment puts a hard-line immigration loyalist in a vaguely defined position as Trump has expressed deep frustration and anger at his own officials for refusing to enforce his aggressive demands aimed at shutting down the flow of immigrants.
In April, Trump fired Kirstjen Nielsen as secretary of homeland security after she repeatedly resisted his push to shut down the border and refuse asylum seekers entry into the United States. The president also pushed out several other top officials, including the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement — Homan’s former job — in a purge of his top officials.
Kevin McAleenan, the former commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, took over as the acting secretary of homeland security, but Trump has not nominated him to run the department permanently. Homan’s appointment is likely to undercut McAleenan’s traditional role as the top official responsible for securing the border.
In the appearance on Fox, Trump said he was still not sure whether he would nominate McAleenan to permanently lead the Department of Homeland Security.
“McAleenan, he is doing a very nice job. We’re going to see,” Trump said. “I’ve got to get used to him. Because it’s a very important thing to me, the border. We need strong people at the border.”
Homan fits that description: Burly and blunt. A veteran of the Border Patrol who rose through the ranks of Immigration and Customs Enforcement before Trump named him acting director of the agency in 2017, Homan retired last year when his nomination for the permanent post stalled in the Senate.