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Democrats announce bill to abolish ICE

An anti-ICE sign at the Families Belong Together Rally in Houston, TX. June 30, 2018. (Jill_Ion/Flickr)
July 12, 2018

Congressional Democrats announced a new bill to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Thursday.

The bill, named the Humane Immigration Enforcement Systems Act, would establish a commission headed by immigrant-rights groups to develop a new plan that would eventually replace ICE, The Washington Times reported.

The commission would analyze ICE processes and determine specific efforts to defer to other agencies. The bill requires Congress to employ the commission’s utilization.

It also would set a one-year deadline for the commission’s progress and the required final elimination of ICE.

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However, the bill does not outline any other specific plans for replacing or revamping ICE.

The bill was announced by Reps. Mark Pocan (Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) and Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.).

The bill is the first of its kind to confront ICE, and stems from the recent “Abolish ICE” movement resulting from President Trump’s immigration policy.

The bill mandates that the same number of employees are maintained before and after ICE is eliminated, and advocates replacing enforcement personnel with social workers.

It also includes a list of criticisms against ICE.

The bill’s authors claim that ICE has become “militarized,” citing deportation efforts, raids and family separations.

“President Trump’s blanket directive to round up and target all undocumented immigrants underscores the unchecked power which ICE has used to terrorize our communities,” Pocan said, according to The Hill.

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“From conducting raids at garden centers and meatpacking plants, to targeting families outside churches and schools, the President is using ICE as a mass-deportation force to rip apart the moral fabric of our nation,” Pocan added.

The bill argues that other agencies are better suited for handling ICE’s other responsibilities, such as the enforcement of money laundering, cyber crimes, human trafficking and transnational gangs.

“The agency has a very broad jurisdiction and was created to combat terrorism, human trafficking, and drugs. Yet, ICE now spends the majority of its time detaining and separating mothers and fathers seeking safety for themselves and their children,” Espaillat said. “We are witnessing a human rights crisis, and our bill would bring forward a new model and dismantle ICE once and for all.”

Other co-sponsors of the bill include: Reps. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Jim McGovern (Mass.), José Serrano (N.Y.), Adam Smith (Wash.) and Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.).

The bill isn’t expected to gain much traction, especially in the Republican-controlled House.

The “Abolish ICE” movement hasn’t gained widespread support.

The bill is expected to be called to the House floor for a vote sometime soon, but no exact date is available.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence spoke before ICE employees and assured them that the agency wasn’t in danger of abolishment.

“Under President Donald Trump, we will never abolish ICE,” Pence said. “While some people today are calling for the abolition of this great agency, in this White House, let me be clear we are with you 100 percent –and as the president said last night we will always stand proudly with the brave heroes of ICE and Border Patrol.”