WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) declared today that Democrats have “jumped the shark” with calls from some to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement materializing in a new bill that would transfer ICE functions to other agencies.
Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) today introduced the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act, which would eliminate ICE within a year of enactment while establishing a commission to provide a roadmap to Congress on an immigration system overhaul.
ICE functions such as combating drug trafficking, human smuggling and organized crime would be shifted to other federal agencies under the legislation.
From conducting raids at garden centers and meatpacking plants, to targeting families outside churches and schools, the President is using ICE as a mass-deportation force to rip apart the moral fabric of our nation,” Pocan said in a statement. “Sadly, President Trump has so misused ICE that the agency can no longer accomplish its goals effectively.”
Jayapal said the intention is to “start from scratch to restructure” ICE functions.
“It’s time to change the system to one that is accountable, efficient, humane and transparent,” she said. “There will still be enforcement of immigration laws, but it must be without cruelty and abuse.”
At his weekly press conference, Ryan called the bill “amazing.”
“You want to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. This is the agency that gets gangs out of our communities, that helps prevent drugs from flowing into our schools, that rescues people from human trafficking. They want to get rid of this agency? It’s the craziest position I’ve ever seen,” Ryan said.
“And they are just — they just keep — they’re tripping over themselves to move too far to the left. They’re out of the mainstream of America. And that’s one of the reasons why I feel very good about this fall.”
A conservative immigration reform bill and a compromise version from House Republicans failed at the end of last month. Ryan said the intention is still to press forward only with legislation guaranteed to get Trump’s signature.
“I know he will not sign the DREAM Act on its own. He’s made that really clear. But I do know — I’ve spoken with him many times about this,” he said. “…Sometimes a policy’s not ready for prime time. That doesn’t mean it’s not the right policy. That doesn’t mean it won’t eventually be arrived at.”
Ryan also repeated his refrain today that tariffs are not “the right solution” in the administration’s trade policy, but he shunned legislative efforts to block Trump’s tariff actions by closing the national-security loophole by which the president has been able to impose new tariffs without Congress.
“I think what’s more effective and constructive is to work with the administration to get the policy in a good place, and that’s what we’re doing. I think that’s going to be more effective than trying to pass a piece of legislation that will not make it into law,” Ryan said. “I’d rather work with the administration, which is — look, we engage with the administration daily on this subject.”
“…At the end of the day, we all want to get to the same place. We want free and fair trade. We want a level playing field. We have differences of opinions on how to achieve that. What I’m trying to do is make sure we get on the same page on not just the end, but the means, as well.”