By Thomas Phippen
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined his voice with dozens of Democrats calling to abolish the immigration police force responsible for investigating and arresting illegal aliens throughout the country.
De Blasio stressed that there needs to be an agency to deal with immigration, but that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “has become a punitive, negative tool for division and it’s no longer acceptable,” the mayor told WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer in an interview Friday.
Lehrer asked de Blasio about his position on ICE in light of a recent push to undo the agency critics say is too cruel to immigrant families. The stunning victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley for the nomination to New York’s 14th congressional district, brought new attention to the progressive movement to dismantle ICE.
“I think that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez that is right, we should abolish ICE. We should create something better, something different,” de Blasio said.
“I think every country need the kind of sensible, transparent immigration regulation. There’s no question about that,” de Blasio said. “There needs to be some kind of agency to deal with immigration. But ICE is not that. ICE has proven it can’t be that. ICE’s time has come and gone. It is broken. ICE has been sent on a very negative, divisive mission and it cannot function the way it is.”
The growing list of Democrats calling to abolish ICE includes Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, and recently New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand.
Responding to questions about Ocasio-Cortez’ platform, Gillibrand told CNN Thursday that she doesn’t “think ICE today is working as intended.”
“I think now, we’re starting to realize that ICE — part of that suite of legislation has a structure that allows for civil rights and human rights abuses,” Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday. “And, you know, it may seem like a radical position, but I actually think it is very, very common sense. You know, we should not be separating children from their families.”
De Blasio has criticized ICE in the past, particularly when he criticized allegedly “provocative action” when the agents arrested a prominent immigration activist who is undocumented when he appeared for a routine check-in with his case officer at ICE’s office.
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