Abolish ICE is a political movement that proposes abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The movement gained traction in June 2018, due to controversy of the Trump administration family separation policy.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement was created in 2003, as part of the newly formed U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency's young age has been a point of discussion, with proponents of Abolish ICE arguing that the United States can easily do without an agency that has only existed for fifteen years. Though the agency controversially expanded under President Barack Obama, frustrating advocates for immigrants' rights, its primary focus remained the deportation of those undocumented immigrants who were convicted of a crime. After Trump took office in January 2017, his administration began to implement harsher immigration policies, such as denying asylum to refugees and separating undocumented children from their families, which spurred the growth of the movement. Sean McElwee, co-founder of left-wing think tank Data for Progress, is credited with coining the slogan by creating the hashtag #AbolishICE. He first used the hashtag on his Twitter account in February 2017, shortly after Trump's inauguration.
In August 2017, a series of protests over the agency took place in Oakland, California. However, a group of Oakland police escorted ICE and DHS agents to the site of a search, sparking controversy and protests over the sanctuary policy breach. ICE later stated that the agency was serving a federal search warrant for suspected child trafficking, and was not conducting a deportation. Conservatives criticized the protesters for interfering with the investigation.
Controversy over the Trump administration family separation policy in 2018 brought the movement into the mainstream of political discussion. Randy Bryce, a Democratic congressional candidate in Wisconsin, was one of the first politicians to call for ICE to be eliminated in April. Bryce's opponent, Paul Ryan, who is the current speaker of the House, said that abolishing ICE was "the craziest position I have ever seen". On June 20, at the height of the family separation controversy, protestors approached Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen at a restaurant, chanting "Abolish ICE".
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist and Democratic primary challenger to Representative Joseph Crowley, made abolishing ICE one of her top campaign issues. In the wake of her unexpected victory on June 26, the position became more widely accepted by progressive politicians, including Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. The change was particularly strong in Ocasio-Cortez's state of New York, where Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio quickly embraced the abolition of ICE after the win.
On June 25, Wisconsin congressman Mark Pocan announced that he would introduce legislation to dismantle ICE and establish a commission to determine how the government "can implement a humane immigration enforcement system", after visiting the Mexico–United States border and witnessing "the nation’s immigration crisis". Pocan was joined by Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Adriano Espaillat of New York in introducing the bill, the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act, on July 12.
Nineteen ICE agents wrote a letter to Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asking for the ICE to be split into two separate agencies because they believe the institution inhibits their ability to do their job properly. Their proposal would separate the enforcement and removal unit, which is the subject of almost all of the controversy, from the investigations unit that focuses on issues such as fraud, human trafficking, gangs, and drug rings. They believe that sanctuary jurisdictions would be more likely to work with the investigative unit if it were separate.
Rallies in support of abolition
Several protests, rallies, and marches—including Occupy ICE, Families Belong Together, and Women Disobey—called for the abolition of ICE. These rallies took place over several months in over 700 cities in the United State and around the world.
Trump has accused Democrats of advocating for the abolition of ICE, saying that if "you get rid of ICE, you’re going to have a country that you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house". He predicted that Democrats would get beaten so badly" in the 2018 midterm elections because of the issue (the Democrats gained control of the House in the elections). Vice President Mike Pence visited ICE's headquarters in the wake of the controversy, calling ICE and Border Patrol agents "heroes".
Harris stated that Democrats should "critically re-examine ICE" and "think about starting from scratch" with American immigration policy, while Senator Bernie Sanders stated that Democrats should instead encourage Trump to work with them on "a national program which deals with this serious issue."
National polling by Pew Research Center in July found that ICE was one of the least popular government agencies among Americans. The same poll found that public support for the abolition issue was sharply partisan: 72% of Democrats supported eliminating the agency, while 72% of Republicans were found to have a "favorable opinion" of the agency.
Commentators have noted that U.S. Customs and Border Protection, not ICE, is responsible for border enforcement, so abolishing ICE alone would not end the ability of the United States to enforce its immigration laws, nor would it necessarily end the controversial practice of family separation that spurred support for the movement.
- Occupy ICE
- Criticism of the United States government
- Criticisms of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Krieg, Gregory. "The movement to 'Abolish ICE' is heating up -- and going mainstream". CNN.
- "Trump Attacks Democrats on Calls to Abolish ICE".
- Weigel, David. "Analysis - Nobody knows how 'abolish ICE' plays politically". Washington Post.
- "15 Years After Its Creation, Critics Want To Abolish ICE". www.wbur.org.
- Breland, Ali. "How Twitter vaulted 'Abolish ICE' into the mainstream", The Hill, July 29, 2018.
- Jacobs, Emma. "When Immigration Detention Means Losing Your Kids". NPR. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
- Hartmann, Margaret. "'Abolish ICE': The Roots of the Left's New Immigration Rallying Cry".
- Relman, Eliza. "The first signs are emerging that the progressive campaign to abolish ICE is working", Business Insider, July 24, 2018.
- "ICE raid in West Oakland related to human trafficking involving minors", Bay City News, August 16, 2017.
- McArdle, Mairead (5 July 2018). "Watch: Protesters Blast ICE as Agents Act on Federal Child Trafficking Warrant". National Review. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
- Cummings, William. "House Democrats introduce bill to abolish ICE, create 'humane' immigration system", USA Today, July 12, 2018.
- "'Shame!': Protesters Shout At DHS Head Kirstjen Nielsen, Eating At Mexican Restaurant".
- Stein, Jeff (June 27, 2018). "What Ocasio-Cortez wants for America after beating Joe Crowley". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
- Pappas, Alex (29 June 2018). "'Abolish ICE' goes mainstream as Gillibrand, de Blasio back calls".
- "New York's Kirsten Gillibrand, Bill de Blasio echo progressive calls to 'abolish ICE'".
- Diaz, Danielle (July 3, 2018). "These Democrats want to abolish ICE". CNN. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
- "Following Trip to Southern Border, Pocan to Introduce Legislation that Would Abolish ICE", Rep. Mark Pocan, June 25, 2018.
- "19 ICE agents write letter calling on Homeland Security to abolish the controversial agency". Newsweek. 29 June 2018.
- 'Occupy ICE' Movement Spreads Across Cities Nationwide
- Thomsen, Jacqueline (June 28, 2018). "#WomenDisobey march shuts down DC streets to protest Trump immigration policies". TheHill. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
- "Donald Trump: Democrats will be 'beaten so badly' if they campaign to abolish ICE".
- Cochrane, Emily (July 1, 2018). "Trump Attacks Democrats on Calls to Abolish ICE". New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
- Gomez, Alan and Kevin Johnson. "Vice President Pence blasts calls to abolish ICE, calls agents 'heroes'", USA Today, July 6, 2018.
- News, ABC (1 July 2018). "Democrat stops short of calling to abolish ICE, wants comprehensive reform". ABC News.
- Breland, Ali (30 June 2018). "Warren joins calls to get rid of ICE".
- Beaumont, Thomas (27 August 2018). "Few Democrats favor liberal cry to abolish ICE, poll finds". PBS.
- Hains, Tim (4 November 2018). "Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan: I Don't Know A Lot Of Democrats Who Want To Abolish ICE". RealClearPolitics.
- Bolton, Alexander. "Abolishing ICE becomes Dem litmus test", The Hill, June 30, 2018.
- Valverde, Miriam (July 3, 2018). "'Abolish ICE' movement is growing. Is the agency's disbanding likely?". PolitiFact. Retrieved 4 July 2018.