Thomas Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), addressed critics on Friday attacking his agency over migrant family separations.
"They need to educate themselves," the ICE chief told Fox News. "I mean, this protest yesterday, to protest about family separations on the border — ICE doesn't separate families on the border. That's the Border Patrol. We're a different agency."
"So they need to get their facts straight and inform themselves what's actually happening," he continued.
Homan added, "I'm not throwing Border Patrol under the bus. I think they're doing what they need to do."
ICE has been at the center of protests recently, with more than a dozen ICE special agents calling for the law enforcement agency to be eliminated and its work shifted to another bureau.
A growing number of Democratic lawmakers have also called on the Trump administration to shutter the agency amid public outrage over the administration’s immigration crackdown.
Democratic Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandEx-officials voice deep concerns over new Pentagon UFO unit Paid leave advocates ramping up the pressure on Manchin and Schumer Gillibrand, bipartisan lawmakers push to keep military justice overhaul in NDAA MORE (N.Y.) on Thursday became the first sitting senator to call for the elimination of ICE, telling CNN that the agency should be "reimagined."
"I believe that it has become a deportation force. And I think you should separate out the criminal justice from the immigration issues," she said. "I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency, with a very different mission, and take those two missions out. So we believe that we should protect families that need our help, and that is not what ICE is doing today."
Homan fired back at those comments on Friday.
"As far as Gillibrand, she needs to study the issue, too, because she went to a protest on family separation on the border, and she tries to blame ICE for it, 'ICE separated families,' " he said. "First of all, she's gotta get her facts straight."
Homan was careful not to blame Border Patrol for the family separations resulting from President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy implemented by Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE earlier this year.
"If the American public wants to know who to blame for family separations, the first people they need to blame is Congress. We went up the Hill several months ago and told them what the loopholes were," Homan said.
"We said 'you can fix this,' " he said. "If we can fix the Flores settlement agreement, we can keep the families together in a family facility until they see a judge."
"But they failed to fix it. They don't want to fix it," he added.
Homan was serving his last day leading ICE on Friday.