President Donald Trump‘s announcement on “Fox and Friends” Friday morning that Tom Homan would be his new “border czar” appears to have been premature.
Homan, a Fox News contributor, was caught by surprise by the announcement, according to a source familiar.
Two senior White House officials acknowledged the details of a position are still being worked out and conversations are ongoing.
Trump’s announcement also caught officials within the White House by surprise. Talks about the nature of the border czar position are still ongoing, according to one of the officials. Prior to the President’s announcement, aides had not finalized the nature and scope of the role and they had not formally vetted candidates, though Homan’s name has been floated internally.
Among the potential problems associated with the czar role is structuring it in a way that does not run afoul of the statutory responsibility given to the Department of Homeland Security when it was created by Congress. According to this official, those decisions are still not settled, even after Trump made his announcement this morning.
This official did not know if or when the White House would move forward with formally announcing Trump’s pick.
During a nearly hour-long interview on “Fox and Friends” Friday morning, Trump said the former acting Immigration and Customs director will be “a border czar.”
“Tom Homan’s coming back,” Trump said, acknowledging that the news was supposed to be announced next week.
“He’s going to be very much involved with the border. That’s what he really wants to be involved with,” Trump continued, later adding, “He’ll be a border czar. 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.” It’s not clear what the position will entail or who the person filling the role would report to.
The new position comes amid a dramatic spike of apprehensions at the southern border and a Department of Homeland Security stretched thin. The department has lacked permanent leadership since Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was ousted in April.
This is the latest of several personnel announcements that Trump has announced before the White House was fully prepared, and even in some cases before the candidate themselves are notified. A year ago, for example, Trump made the surprise announcement of Robert Wilkie as his nominee to be the Veterans Affairs secretary as Wilkie was seated in the audience at an event about the criminal justice system.
“I’ll be informing him in a little while — he doesn’t know this yet — that we’re going to be putting his name up for nomination to be secretary of the Veterans Administration,” Trump said.
Homan, a career law enforcement officer, is the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He announced his plans to retire in 2018, and shortly after leaving the agency, he jumped to Fox News to be a contributor on the network.
Homan has been a steadfast defender of the President’s immigration enforcement policies.
Most recently, Homan touted an agreement reached by the US and Mexico to boost enforcement, calling it “an achievement that has eluded past presidents.”
“After threatening to impose tariffs on everything Mexico exports to the US, Trump got Mexico to agree to finally take greater action to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants into the US,” he said in an op-ed published on Fox News.
Homan’s name has previously been floated for the position of Department of Homeland Security secretary, a position behind held in an acting capacity by Kevin McAleenan.