Democrats across the nation have pushed for relaxed immigration enforcement, including amnesty for illegal immigrants and sanctuary laws that shield criminal immigrants from federal authorities.
In 2018, a wave of new candidates will seek to rid the federal government of the agency currently responsible for arresting criminal immigrants.
At least 13 congressional candidates have called for the elimination of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to Newsweek.
“ICE has grown power-hungry,” Randy Bryce, a candidate to represent Wisconsin’s 1st District, said.
He complained that the agency — responsible for fighting gangs and detaining illegal immigrants — was “sucking up more and more federal resources and directing them toward the deportation of children and families who have lived here for years and who are otherwise completely law-abiding.”
Bryce favored immigration enforcement through another existing agency, which might work since ICE didn’t exist until 2003.
Florida House candidate Chardo Richardson similarly thought about investing ICE’s funds in a nonpartisan immigration agency that approaches undocumented immigrants in a “humane” way.
When former President George W. Bush’s administration created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to the attacks on Sept. 11, it transferred authority from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to ICE and other DHS agencies.
President Donald Trump has since led a charge to get tough on immigration, and the country experienced an increase in ICE arrests. Just last month, ICE operations resulted in more than 600 arrests in California, Missouri, and southern parts of the United States.
The administration has directed its ire toward sanctuary policies, which ICE acting director Tom Homan said forced authorities to conduct at-large arrests that might net individuals without criminal histories.
The Justice Department also sued California last month, claiming that three of its policies obstructed law enforcement’s efforts.
Dan Canon, an Indiana House candidate, told Newsweek that abolishing ICE was just one of a host of progressive ideas Democrats have pushed, breaking past topics that were previously considered taboo.
“We’ve proposed ideas that would have been taboo a few years ago here in Indiana — abolishing ICE, single-payer health care, a guaranteed jobs program, legalization of marijuana, reparations, etcetera — and people are responding,” he explained.
But according to National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Martin, abolishing ICE was a “radical” and “out-of-touch” proposal.
“ICE plays a vital role in fighting deadly gangs, preventing terrorism and ending sex-trafficking operations,” he said during an interview with Newsweek.
Female candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’s running for New York’s 14th District, was concerned with due process under ICE and said abolishing ICE was “less radical than the establishment of” the agency in the first place.