After Republicans promised to bring the “abolish ICE” bill to the floor for a vote in the House, Democrats now appear to have gotten cold feet.
Several of the lawmakers who introduced the bill now say they will vote “no” if it comes up for a vote. In truth, the proposal to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was never serious and was simply an exercise in tossing raw meat to their rabid, far-left base.
But Republicans have called them out for their political stupidity and they are backtracking as fast as they can.
“We know Speaker [Paul] Ryan is not serious about passing our ‘Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act,’ so members of Congress, advocacy groups, and impacted communities will not engage in this political stunt,” Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Adriano Espaillat of New York told The Hill and other news outlets. “If Speaker Ryan puts our bill on the floor, we plan to vote no and will instead use the opportunity to force an urgently needed and long-overdue conversation on the House floor.”
Whoever said a House speaker had to be “serious” about passing a bill to bring it to the floor? I think Ryan was being quite magnanimous and accommodating in allowing Democrats the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is on abolishing ICE.
A major problem for the Democrats is that several potential candidates for the presidential nomination of their party backed the radical proposal.
Democrats have long pushed back on the administration’s immigration policies but tensions have escalated in the past month over family separations at the border. Calls from some far-left lawmakers to abolish ICE have grown ahead of the November elections.
Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., last week slammed the federal agency as being a part of a “cruel, dysfunctional immigration system” that needs “comprehensive” reform.
One of the first senators to push for eradicating ICE was Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who said last month that ICE “has become a deportation force” which should be abolished.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed Gillibrand, calling the agency “broken” and “divisive.”
“It should be abolished,” he tweeted.
If the effort to abolish ICE was only coming from some obscure, backbench Democratic extremists, no one would have paid attention. But Sanders, de Blasio, and Gillibrand have all been prominently mentioned as potential candidates for president, giving a patina of legitimacy to the cause.
Needless to say, Democratic credibility on immigration is about to take a hit.
As analysts point out, if Democrats vote against the proposal and kill it, it undermines their word. If they earn enough “yes” votes, Republicans could turn the issue and tie all Democrats to the crisis at the border.
Perhaps sensing trouble ahead of the primaries, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California have called instead for the agency to be restructured.
The Democrats continue to shoot themselves in the foot on immigration. Recent polls have shown widespread opposition to abolishing ICE and support for much of Trump’s immigration policy (except separating families at the border). With immigration gaining in importance as an issue for the fall elections, Democrats appear to be on the wrong side of voter preferences.