Dem. Congressman: 'Abolish ICE' Doesn't Mean 'Abolish ICE'

On Friday, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told CNN's Jim Acosta that Democrat calls to "abolish ICE" do not actually mean the dismantling of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He claimed that activists are not really radical, but only want ICE restored to its original mission.

Acosta asked Lieu about Vice President Mike Pence's declaration that "cries to abolish ICE are irresponsible and unacceptable." He asked the congressman to respond to Pence's words.

Lieu jumped headlong into face-saving mode. "Democrats who have said this are not saying abolish ICE and do nothing," he argued. "They’re saying we should have a new agency that has principles and values more consistent with what the American people believe."

Naturally, the Democrat launched into the family separation mantra. "That means not ripping kids and babies away from their parents," even when their parents commit a crime and face prosecution. President Trump has already signed an order directing ICE to detain families together — and Democrats, right on cue, complained that ICE was putting children in cages.

After getting in his misleading talking point, Lieu pivoted to his real argument. "ICE was a new agency created after 9/11, essentially to help go after terrorists," he argued. "They’ve gone far away from that mission, and we need to make sure the new ICE director curbs ICE’s sort of culture so they’re more in line with the original mission and what Americans expect ICE to do."

Lieu is partially correct, but not entirely. ICE was indeed created in 2002, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The agency was not limited to fighting terrorism, however. Instead, the new agency combined the functions and jurisdictions of several border and revenue enforcement agencies, including the investigative and intelligence resources of the U.S. Customs Service and the criminal investigative, detention, and deportation resources of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

ICE is more than just an anti-terror branch of the U.S. government, and its prosecution of those who cross America's borders illegally is well within its jurisdiction.

Make no mistake — Democrats and activists want to abolish ICE (they don't just want "a new ICE director" as Lieu suggested) because they think America should not prevent people from crossing the border. They support open borders in part because they expect illegal immigrants to support them at the ballot box.

They may crow about children put in "cages," but for many activists, the end game is not compassion, but politics. The absurdity of Lieu's argument is clear from the very name of the agency: it's not the "Investigate Terrorists Agency," but the agency of "Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

Americans want immigration reform, and we should have a debate about how to enforce the border. Unfortunately, the activists screaming "Abolish ICE!" are aimed at something else entirely.

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