Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer shot down suggestions to abolish ICE, saying Wednesday that the government’s top deportation agency does things that are “very much needed.”
His comments contradict growing calls within the Democratic Party to nix U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the branch of Homeland Security that’s responsible for deportations, as well as anti-gang efforts, stopping counterfeit merchandise and tracking child sex predators.
On Tuesday a maverick Democratic candidate running on a platform that included abolishing ICE won a primary victory in New York over longtime Rep. Joe Crowley, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House.
Sen. Kamala Harris, California Democrat, has also called for an end to ICE, and Rep. Marc Pocan, Wisconsin Democrat, said this week he’s writing legislation to do just that.
Mr. Schumer said he’s not on board those efforts.
“ICE does some functions that are very much needed,” Mr. Schumer said. “Reform ICE — yes. That’s what I think we should do.”
He also praised Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old Bernard Sanders acolyte who ousted Mr. Crowley.
“She ran a great campaign and she was focused and dedicated and strong,” he said, adding that the party is broad enough to encompass her.
“We Democrats are a big tent,” he said.