Democrats in Congress are introducing a bill that would abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).
Comprised of eight members appointed by Congress, plus nine members from “major civil society and immigrants’ rights organizations and individuals directly impacted by ICE practices, “The legislation would give the government one year to dismantle ICE and create a bipartisan group to build a replacement,” the Washington Post reports.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and co-sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), also gives the bipartisan group direction to launch an investigation into ICE activities, looking to discover any “failures to comply with congressional oversight requirements, violations of constitutional protections and U.S. laws, failures to comply with agency policies and directives, violations of human rights, and any other longstanding patterns of medical neglect, solitary confinement, wrongful death, and other abuses for which ICE is wholly or partially responsible,” according to the report.
The bill has been championed by many activist groups who have adopted “Abolish ICE” as a rallying cry in recent months. It was the chant many used at a #WomenDisobey protest in Washington last month, where nearly 600 were arrested.
Rep. Pocan says the bill will allow immigration law to be enforced, but remove the 15-year-old organization he says has strayed from its original purpose.
“The ICE brand has been so damaged by the president that it can no longer accomplish its original mission,” Pocan told the Post. “Even ICE agents recognize that ICE doesn’t do what it was intended to.”
Republicans on the whole seem to disagree, and some have already sponsored a resolution to support the continuation of ICE.
“With the ever present threat of MS-13 and international terrorism, along with an opioid crisis being fought at our border, abolishing ICE is unthinkable,” said Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), in a statement announcing the resolution. “ICE officers are in the trenches fighting those threats and protecting American families from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that endanger our families. ICE deserves our gratitude and respect, not scorn and ridicule.”
According to a report b the Associated Press, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan called the Democrats’ bill “the craziest position” he’s ever seen. Rep. Poncan had some sharp words in return, saying the “craziest position” he’s seen is the Trump administration’s on separating families.