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NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, NY. Sen. Gillibrand, others call to abolish ICE

Protesters gathered in Minneapolis, MN, in opposition of family separations at the border, and called for the abolishment of ICE. June 30, 2018. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
July 03, 2018

Amid recent calls to end the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, two New York Democrats have joined the movement against ICE.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are the latest to join the rally against ICE, calling for the agency to be abolished following President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, USA Today recently reported.

Gillibrand told CNN last week: “I don’t think ICE today is working as intended. I believe that it has become a deportation force, and I think you should separate the criminal justice from the immigration issues. And I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency with a very different mission and take those two missions out.”

Gillibrand expanded on her position through a Facebook post on Friday, beginning with “We need to abolish ICE.”

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She lamented on the agency’s deportations and raids, calling for its replacement with “a better system that is humane, just and recognizes that immigration adds to America’s strength and security.”

De Blasio expressed the same sentiment in a Friday radio interview with WNYC, saying “ICE’s time has come and gone.”

“We should abolish ICE. We should create something better, something different,” he added.

He also tweeted that ICE “is broken, it’s divisive and it should be abolished.”

ICE spokesperson Liz Johnson referred to the calls to dismantle ICE as “dangerously misguided.”

“Instead of being insulted with politically-motivated attacks, the men and women of ICE should be praised for risking life and limb every day in the name of national security and public safety,” Johnson said. She added that ICE eliminated “public safety threats from the streets” when they removed more than 5,000 undocumented immigrants in New York over the past year.

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Gillibrand and de Blasio’s comments follow those made by Democratic Socialist candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won Tuesday’s primary race for New York’s 14th Congressional district over Democrat incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley.

Ocasio-Cortez has voiced numerous progressive ideas, including calls for ICE to be dismantled.

Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Mark Pocan said he will introduce a bill to abolish the agency.

However, some argue that these efforts wouldn’t be enough to get rid of ICE.

Professor Stephen Yale-Loehr at Cornell University Law School told USA Today: “Even if the Democrats take control of Congress in November, the chances of abolishing ICE are slim to none.”

Yale-Loehr, who has extensive knowledge and writings on immigration law, added: “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 a target of criticisms over the separation of families at the border.

President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy mandated the arrest of undocumented immigrants crossing the border outside of legal entry points. Children accompanying those undocumented adults were then taken into Department of Health and Human Services custody.

Over the weekend, protests surged across the country in movements entitled “Keep Families Together.” Protestors railed against President Trump’s immigration policy, family separations and detention of children, and also called for ICE to be abolished.

Just two weeks ago, President Trump signed an executive order stopping family separations at the border. The order permits children to remain with their parents in detention, Fox News reported.

Despite this measure, the national outcry has continued.