Prominent progressive members of Congress are backing off of the idea that they will focus on abolishing ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a proposal many pushed during their midterm campaigns.
At the first press conference of the Congressional Progressive Caucus since the midterms, leaders answered questions about whether they would continue to push legislation to abolish ICE. “We are absolutely still going to be pressing that,” said Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. “However, I think our main goal of getting out of the gate is going to be the issues that we ran on across all districts, around health care, around good-paying jobs, around dealing with the culture of corruption.”
Pocan, who had previously released a statement calling for ICE to be abolished, added, “I still think many of us still have issues of immigration reform.”
The slogan “Abolish ICE” became both a rallying cry and a lightning rod during the 2018 election cycle for the far left across the country.
New York Representative Democratic elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was standing with Progressive Caucus leaders at Monday’s press conference. She helped popularize the idea during her successful insurgent campaign. Ocasio-Cortez, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist, unseated 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley during the Democratic primary.
Several representatives who had called for the abolition of ICE during their campaigns, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota attended the news conference.
Pocan and two other Progressive Caucus leaders introduced legislation during their campaigns aimed at Abolishing ICE. One of the lawmakers, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, took issue with the attention paid to the “Abolish Ice” slogan.
“I would really love it if all of you would read the bill and if you would report on what was in the bill and how we propose building immigration that is humane, where enforcement is transparent, saves taxpayers dollars, and is effective,” Jayapal said.
In July, Jayapal’s office issued a press release about the bill with the headline, “Members of Congress Introduce Legislation to Terminate ICE and Transfer Critical Functions to Other Agencies.”
Later Monday, Jayapal told reporters she had “never used” the “Abolish ICE” slogan.
After the legislation was introduced over the summer, House Republicans tried to force a vote on the bill in an apparent effort to put Democrats on the record on abolishing ICE. The progressives responded that they would vote down their own bill and called the move a “political stunt.” The bill has not been considered on the floor.
Photo: Families Belong Together – San Francisco Rally – Photo – 29 by Fabrice Florin is licensed under CC BY 2.0