ICE on Ice? Move to Abolish ICE, at Center of Storm in Immigration Battle, has a Long Way to Go

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.

On Monday, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, said he would introduce legislation to eliminate the agency. On Tuesday, activist and political upstart Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned powerful, 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary in New York.

Ocasio-Cortez’s populist platform includes Medicare for all, higher education for all — and shutting down ICE.

Ocasio-Cortez’s 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 an aggressive, progressive campaign in a district that includes parts of Queens and the Bronx, where about half the population is Latino.

ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor at Cornell University Law School who has written extensively on immigration law, says ICE isn’t going anywhere soon. It’s detractors, he said, just don’t have the votes on either side of the aisle.

“Even if the Democrats take control of Congress in November, the chances of abolishing ICE are slim to none,” he told USA TODAY. “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.”

ICE has been in the center of the storm over family separations at the border. The Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration edict had ICE arresting undocumented immigrants entering the country without using legal entry points. Children were placed to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Trump has ordered the separations halted, but the details on what is next are still being worked out.

Rosemary Jenks is director of government relations for Numbers USA, which describes itself as an immigration reduction organization. She says ICE should be lauded for the crucial and difficult job it performs.

By John Bacon for USA TODAY
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