Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) believes it’s time to get rid of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and start over.
“I don’t think ICE today is working as intended,” Gillibrand told Chris Cuomo on CNN.
“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.”
Gillibrand was commenting on the platform of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who came out on top in Tuesday’s primary, defeating 10-term Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley (N.Y.). Ocasio-Cortez’s platform includes a call to extinguish ICE.
“Its founding was part of an unchecked expansion of executive powers that led to the widespread erosion of Americans’ civil rights. Unlike prior immigration enforcement under the INS, ICE operates outside the scope of the Department of Justice and is unaccountable to our nation’s standards of due process,” Ocasio-Cortez states on her website.
“Well, I agree with it,” Gillibrand said of Ocasio-Cortez’s stance.
Democratic senators have called for ICE to be reworked, but Gillibrand appears to be the first to suggest eliminating it entirely. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) did hint at the idea, though.
“I think there’s no question that we’ve got to critically re-examine ICE and its role and the way that it is being administered and the work it is doing,” Harris, another name floating around as a possible 2020 candidate, said on MSNBC. “And we need to probably think about starting from scratch.”
With political support, perhaps the idea will continue to gain traction, although the concept is not new. The SF Chronicle reported:
Sean McElwee, a political data expert who created the #AbolishICE hashtag in February 2017, has little patience for rhetorical moderation when it comes to immigration-law enforcement and says momentum is on the left’s side. He said his Data for Progress firm counted 3,600 tweets using the #AbolishICE hashtag in the first five months of the year — and 25,000 so far in June.