Homeland Security

AOC Wants to Abolish the Department of Homeland Security

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

During an interview with The New Yorker Radio Hour’s David Remnick, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) claimed that she would abolish the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

After Rep. Ocasio-Cortez reiterated her desire to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Remnick asked, “Would you get rid of Homeland Security too?”

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez responded, “I think so. I think so. I think we need to undo a lot of the egregious, a lot of the egregious mistakes that the Bush administration did.”

“I feel like we are at a very, it’s a very qualified and supported position, at least in terms of evidence, and in terms of being able to make the argument, that we never should’ve created DHS in the early 2000s,” she added.

She later doubled down on Twitter yesterday, stating, “It’s really not that radical.”

She also added, “132 members – incl GOP & Independents – voted against creating the Dept of Homeland Security. Don’t let people rewrite history as if DHS/ICE always existed, or is a no-brainer. It’s a young agency, ill-conceived after 9/11 & sacrificed our civil liberties – like the Patriot Act.”

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez cited her recent visit to a border detention facility in El Paso, Texas, as justification for abolishing the agency. In the Radio Hour interview, she stated that the border detention facilities represent “some of the most inhumane behavior.”

“It’s not even living… It was the physical manifestation of Trump’s rhetoric in calling migrants animals. Because that’s how these women were being treated. Their hair was falling out, they had sores in their mouth due to the lack of nutrition… The cruelty is the point,” she elaborated.

Although she does wish to abolish DHS, Ocasio-Cortez spokesperson Corbin Trent later confirmed to The Hill that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez would reassign sub-agencies like the Coast Guard and FEMA to other departments.

As the third-largest Cabinet department, DHS was first founded on November 25, 2002. Its stated missions are counter-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, and cyber security and management.

ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Secret Service are all a part of DHS.

With her tweets, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez appears to suggest that if DHS were broken up, the sub-agencies would still do a good job, which remains difficult to prove.

However, what can be proven to be false is the suggestion by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez that Republicans would support this initiative of DHS reorganization, or at least have done so in the past.

Among Republicans, the abolishment and subsequent reorganization of DHS has a history of initial doubt and then general warmhearted acceptance.

In reference to the creation of a new department to deal with terrorism, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer stated in March 2002, “Creating a Cabinet post doesn’t solve the problem.”

The increase in the federal bureaucracy with the DHS was also criticized in 2003. Conservative writer Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review in 2003 criticized President Bush for creating DHS, underlining, “More people are working for the federal government than at any point since the end of the Cold War.”

However, in the 2004 Republican Party Platform, the GOP praised DHS with its efforts to identify high-risk chemical sites, to counter-terrorism, and to ensure many other national security-related safeguards.

For each of the Republican Party Platforms in 2008in 2012, and in 2016, the GOP lauded the role of the DHS.

Just last month, Republican congressmen introduced bills to improve the ability of the DHS to deal with cybersecurity and to keep products from vendors that pose national security risks outside of American supply chains.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez still has a lot of explaining to do on how a “reorganization” would take place, but to imply that the DHS abolishment and reorganization will be met with serious consideration by Republicans remains a false hope.