EDITORIAL: Calls to ‘abolish ICE’ are ignorant and inane

There’s a new rallying cry sweeping the Democrat Party: Abolish ICE. But if Democrats aren’t careful, that rallying cry might abolish their chances of retaking control of Congress this fall.

As recently as three weeks ago, advocating the elimination of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would have been unthinkable for any well-known Democrat. That changed after self-described socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated New York incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley last month in a Democrat primary. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez ran to the left of Bernie Sanders and advocated doing away with the immigration agency. Democrats eyeing a 2020 presidential run took notice. On June 28 Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. , said she wanted to “get rid of” ICE and “start over, re-imagine it, and build something that actually works.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took a break from plagiarizing recipes for a Pow Wow Chow cookbook to lend her support. “We need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom, starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our morality,” she said at an immigration rally last Saturday. The previous weekend she was in Reno speaking at the Nevada state Democratic Party Convention.

On the bright side, perhaps it’s a hopeful sign that progressives have finally found a government agency they want to get rid of. The problem is that the agency is responsible for a core government function: enforcing the nation’s immigration laws. For instance, a 2017 ICE raid in Long Island resulted in the arrest of 32 sex offenders, starting the deportation process.

That’s much different than the forced separation of mothers and children, which Democrats have used as a bludgeon against Donald Trump for the past month. In fact, ICE has nothing to do with family separation. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for enforcing immigration laws at the border and other ports of entry. ICE is responsible for internal enforcement, such as deporting illegal immigrants convicted of crimes.

At this point, it’s clear that far-left Democrats are using the issue of family separation to push for little to no enforcement of our immigration laws. Mr. Trump often asserts that Democrats want open borders. This latest dust-up reveals he may not be far off.

Polls show the calls to abolish ICE are politically foolish, as Americans oppose eliminating the agency by a 2-to-1 ratio. More moderate Democrats understand that allowing their radical left arm to drive the agenda on this issue would be political suicide. The American people may disagree on immigration policy, but to argue that we should get rid of the agency charged with enforcing our immigration laws won’t sell much with voters outside the tony deep blue enclaves of Manhattan and San Francisco.

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