Dems Cutting Their Own Throats by Calling for Abolishing ICE

Prototypes of border walls in San Diego. (AP Photo/Elliott Spagat, File)

Some leading Democrats are becoming increasingly worried that calls from several prominent party members to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will boomerang on the party at the polls in November.


The Democrats calling for the elimination of ICE aren’t obscure backbenchers. Two potential Democratic presidential candidates — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand — have jumped on board the anti-ICE bandwagon, joining a growing list of far-left Democrats.


Top Democrats tell Axios they’re worried that a sudden wave of ambitious party members calling for the abolition of ICE — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is newly controversial because of the detained kids — will make the party look weak on security, a key issue for many swing voters.

Between the lines: These Dems fear the phrase makes them an easy target for conservatives who accuse Democrats of wanting “open borders.”

  • The issue is getting traction after this week’s surprise upset by 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who made “Abolish ICE” a central tenet of her campaign against Rep. Joe Crowley, who had been the king of Queens.

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) became the first sitting senator to say the U.S. should “get rid of” ICE: “start over. Build something that actually works.”

  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted yesterday: “ICE is broken, it’s divisive and it should be abolished.”

  • A few other more progressive Democratic candidates have adopted the anti-ICE messaging, including Cynthia Nixon, running for New York governor, and Matt Haggman, a running for Florida’s 27th congressional district.

Not just swing voters, but Democrats who don’t live in New York and California certainly share many of the same concerns as Republicans in border states like Texas. Calling for such a radical change in immigration policy would depress Democratic turnout and could energize Republicans in districts that national Dems are counting on to win to retake the House in November.

Be smart: “Abolish ICE” is the perfect antithesis to Trump’s “Build a wall”: It represents an entire immigration ideology in one simple phrase that resonates with their base.

  • The phrase has started spiking on Google Trends, mostly in D.C., New York, and along the West Coast.
  • But a Trump tweet this morning showed how easy the issue will be to demagogue: “To the great and brave men and women of ICE, do not worry or lose your spirit. You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements. So brave! The radical left Dems want you out. Next it will be all police. Zero chance, It will never happen!”

Celinda Lake, longtime Democratic pollster, told Axios: “I worry that abolishing ICE tips the issues from humane treatment to security. The Republicans are already trying to move the issue in that direction.”

  • Lake added: “Voters believe we need some enforcement of border security — not just for immigration, but for security. I wish we were pushing this to: ‘We need comprehensive immigration reform.'”

A vast majority of voters already think we aren’t doing enough to secure the borders. Democrats are only slitting their own throats by advocating a move that would almost certainly result in less security at the border, where criminal gangs and drug cartels are operating with impunity.

Many Republicans have been urging Democrats to be completely honest and to run on an “open borders” platform for years. They may just get their wish if the far-left gets their way.



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