Abolish ICE? It Won’t Happen Anytime Soon

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The nascent liberal crusade to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency claimed modest victories this week, but the movement has a long way to go before ICE is put on ice, reports USA Today. On Monday, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) said he would introduce legislation to eliminate the agency. On Tuesday, activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated powerful, 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary in New York. Her populist platform includes Medicare for all, higher education for all — and shutting down ICE. “It’s time to abolish ICE, clear the path to citizenship and protect the rights of families to remain together,” said Cortez, 28, a Latina who ran a progressive campaign in a district that includes parts of Queens and the Bronx, where about half the population is Latino.

Law Prof. Stephen Yale-Loehr of Cornell University says ICE isn’t going anywhere. Its detractors don’t have the votes. “Even if the Democrats take control of Congress in November, the chances of abolishing ICE are slim to none,” he said. “Every agency has to have an enforcement branch. Immigration is no exception. If Congress eliminated ICE, it would have to create some other immigration enforcement entity.” Rosemary Jenks of Numbers USA, which describes itself as an immigration reduction organization, says ICE should be lauded for the crucial and difficult job it performs. “Abolishing (ICE) would be absolutely insane,” she said. “In my mind that is basically a call for open borders. I don’t think the American people would support abolishing ICE.” Hemanth Gundavaram of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at Northeastern University disagrees. He says the cost of ICE far outweighs the threat from immigrants. ICE, he says, has become a tool for President Trump to “implement his racist and xenophobic” immigration policies.

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