The words “Abolish ICE” are becoming increasingly more prevalent as we near the mid-term elections. As President Donald Trump’s administration continues to wreak havoc on immigrant communities, many are calling for the end of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a 15-year-old agency started under George W. Bush’s presidency. Since then, ICE has enforced immigration laws and fractured many families. Under the current government, ICE is able to round up a larger number of undocumented immigrants, including those without criminal records. While some call the termination of the firm radical, others point to the harm it’s done in less than two decades and how the current administration has empowered agents – who already used unethical, manipulative methods to deport families – to act bolder.
And while there’s growing support for the “Abolish ICE” movement, it hasn’t gained the same kind of momentum among politicians. According to Sean McElwee, a New York activist, there are about 15 Democratic congressional candidates running to defund or end ICE. “Trump’s boorishness has exposed the fundamental inhumanity of the system for Democrats in a way that they were never going to see when Obama was president,” he told NBC News.
With upcoming elections that could flip Congress and local governments, it’s necessary to look at the politicians who are fighting for the most vulnerable communities. Below, check out six candidates who want to abolish and defund ICE.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is running for New York’s 14th Congressional District. “ICE is a mess,” she told Remezcla. “And there isn’t a single Democrat that’s an incumbent member of Congress that is really fighting back – that’s, like, really saying: End it! End it! ICE was established in 2003 in the same suite of legislation as the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, the AUMF. We look at that entire legislative history with shame. But ICE is the only thing we don’t talk about with that. Why is that? Because ICE operates outside of the scope of the Justice Department. They have no accountability to due process. They have no accountability to enforcing civil rights, which is why they violate all of those things flagrantly.”
Cynthia Nixon is running for governor of New York. On Thursday, Nixon appeared at a rally in support of Debora Barrios, a Guatemalan immigrant who sought sanctuary at a church. “ICE has strayed so far from its mission. It’s supposed to be here to keep Americans safe but what it’s turned into is frankly a terrorist organization of its own,” she told NY1. “It’s terrorizing people who are coming to this country.”
In a video posted on her Instagram, she specifically said ICE must be abolished.
Dan Canon is a lawyer running for Congress to represent Indiana’s 9th District. He is credited as the first 2018 congressional candidate to call for the end of ICE. “I don’t think a lot of people have any kind of direct experience with ICE, so they don’t really know what they do or what they’re about. If they did, they’d be appalled,” Canon told The Nation. “ICE as it presently exists is an agency devoted almost solely to cruelly and wantonly breaking up families. The agency talks about, and treats, human beings like they’re animals. They scoop up people in their apartments or their workplaces and take them miles away from their spouses and children.”
Suraj Patel is running for the New York 12th congressional district. He’s running to defund ICE.
“US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, originated in 2003 as a bureau of the new Department of Homeland Security. Prior to its founding, immigration had always fallen under the Department of Justice. This drastic re-categorization by Congress signaled, for the first time, that our lawmakers viewed immigration as an immediate threat rather than an earned right,” his website reads.
“Just 15 years later, ICE has crossed a red line under this president by harassing, pursuing, and terrorizing both legal and undocumented immigrants all over this country… That’s why I’m calling to defund ICE, and take away a weapon that this administration is using to target New Yorkers every day. The FBI, USMS, CIS, CBP, and TSA are more than capable of fulfilling the essential law enforcement and customs activities currently performed by ICE without subjecting large populations to constant fear.”
Deb Halaand is likely to become the first Native American congresswoman. For Halaand, ICE is continuing to uphold state-sponsored violence, much like what Native American communities experienced.
“The role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement should never include killing people, ripping children from their parents’ arms, or sexual assault. Until we can stop this violence and dehumanization, we must stop ICE,” she said, according to Newsweek.
Randy Bryce is running for Paul Ryan’s seat in congress. Bryce says that he’s met lots of people who live in constant fear of being deported by ICE, and that the current administration has done nothing to help them.
“Instead, they have given more and more funding and power to an agency that has abused it – deporting an increasing number of women, children, and asylum seekers with no criminal record back to countries where their lives are at risk, tearing apart their families,” he told Slate. “When agencies abuse their power that way, when they stray so far from their mission, and act in such contradiction with our shared American values, it’s fair to question whether that agency should exist at all. I am confident that other parts of the federal government could effectively carry out the functions of immigration and customs enforcement that are necessary, as they did 15 years ago before ICE was created.”