Most Americans Don't Want ICE Abolished

Border Security

Most Americans Don’t Want ICE Abolished, Survey Finds

Despite Democrats' calls to abandon the immigration enforcement agency, a Politico/Morning Consult poll shows the danger of subscribing to that idea

A majority of Americans oppose shutting down the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), contrary to a swelling chorus of liberal Democrats demanding it be shuttered, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll published Wednesday.

“[C]ongressional candidates who embrace the ‘Abolish ICE’ movement could have a difficult time appealing to voters across party lines,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s managing director, Politico reported. “For example, over three-fifths (61 percent) of Republicans and 41 percent of independents say they would be less likely to vote for a congressional candidate who supported getting rid of ICE.”

“Abolish ICE” became the rallying cry for a handful of prominent liberal lawmakers and candidates after the controversy over the Trump administration’s since-scrapped “zero tolerance” policy separating illegal-immigrant children from their parents at the border turned into a firestorm.

Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset victory in the Democratic primary against House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) on June 26 also amplified calls for abolishing ICE because her platform included the demand.

But the new Politico/Morning Consult poll revealed that such a stance could prove dangerous for lawmakers in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed believe ICE should be abolished while 54 percent believe the federal government should keep ICE intact. Approximately 21 percent of respondents remain undecided on the issue.

Calls for abolishing ICE, however, are growing in popularity within the Democratic base. The poll found 43 percent of Democrats think ICE should be scrapped while 34 percent believe it should be kept. Approximately 79 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents still want ICE to exist.

President Donald Trump slammed Democrats calling for ICE’s abolishment June 30 on Twitter, writing, “The Democrats are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen. I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13 & clean out the toughest of situations. They are great!”

Although abolishing ICE used to be a fringe position, a few prominent lawmakers have joined Ocasio-Cortez’s bandwagon.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that, she too, supports abolishing ICE because “it has become a deportation force, and I think you should separate the criminal justice from the immigration issues.”

Related: Democrats Are Split on Calls for Abolishing ICE

“We believe that we should protect families who need our help, and that is not what ICE is doing today,” Gillibrand said. “That’s why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote on Facebook, “The President’s deeply immoral actions have made it obvious that we need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom, starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our values.”

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), who is crafting an “Abolish ICE” bill, said in a statement that ICE should be abolished because it “is tearing apart families and ripping at the moral fabric of our nation.”

“I’m introducing legislation that would abolish ICE and crack down on the agency’s blanket directive to target and round up individuals and families,” Pocan said. “The heartless actions of this abused agency do not represent the values of our nation and the U.S. must develop a more humane immigration system, one that treats every person with dignity and respect.”

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].