Democrats have found themselves at odds over whether to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the latest rift between the party’s liberal and leftist wings.
Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois insisted that eradicating ICE would accomplish nothing as long President Trump is in power, breaking with progressives who have called for replacing the agency.
“Abolishing ICE will accomplish nothing unless we change the Trump policies,” said Mr. Blumenthal on “Face the Nation.”
Ms. Duckworth said the agency “reflects the policies of the White House, of the president.”
“You abolish ICE now, you still have the same president with the same failed policies,” Ms. Duckworth told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Whatever you replace it with is still going to reflect what the president wants to do.”
She indicated that Democrats would be better served focusing on Mr. Trump, who signed a June 20 executive order ending family separations at the border.
“I think there’s a lot of other things we can do before we get to that point, first of which is you’ve got someone in the White House who has these horrendous policies which he still hasn’t fixed,” said Ms. Duckworth. “Families are still separated, children are still in cages, nursing babies are still separated from their moms.”
Their stances contrasted with those of several top Democrats who have recently jumped on the “abolish ICE” bandwagon, siding with protesters at Saturday’s Families Belong Together rallies who chanted “Abolish ICE!” and “chinga la migra,” which translates to “f*** the border patrol.”
“The president’s deeply immoral actions have made it obvious: We need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom, starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our morality,” Ms. Warren told a crowd at Boston City Hall Plaza.
The protests, which drew thousands to events in more than 600 cities, were sponsored by progressive groups including the Women’s March, the American Civil Liberties Union, Indivisible, MoveOn.org, and United We Dream.
Another potential 2020 Democratic presidential contender, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat, said Friday in a Facebook post that “We need to abolish ICE,” arguing that it has become “a cruel deportation force.”
“Congress needs to abolish ICE, and we need to start over, separating the criminal justice and immigration roles,” Ms. Gillibrand said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a Friday radio interview on WNYC that “ICE’s time has come and gone,” adding that, “We should abolish ICE. We should create something better, something different.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, California Democrat, hasn’t ruled out the idea, saying in interviews that the government may want to “start from scratch” on immigration enforcement.
Pushing back was President Trump, who said Sunday that Democrats would “never win another election” if they keep up the anti-ICE rhetoric.
“I hope they keep thinking about it. Because they’re going to get beaten so badly,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo. “You get rid of ICE, you’re going to have a country that you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house. I love it that they’re going to actually do that.”