The mayor of the largest city in the United States is now calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio (D) said that the agency has "become a punitive, negative tool for division," and that its existence is "no longer acceptable."
The comments came from DeBlasio during appearance he made on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC public radio.
"You need some kind of agency to deal with immigration, but ICE is not that," de Blasio told Lehrer. "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 comments from DeBlasio came only days after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Latina woman running on a socialist platform which included abolishing ICE, successfully defeated 20-year incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14thcongressional district, which covers portions of Queens and the Bronx. DeBlasio made light of Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory when talking about ICE in his interview with Lehrer.
“I think Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is right," he added. "We should abolish ICE. We should create something better, something different."
There have been growing calls from liberal Democrats around the country for the abolition of the agency, which was formed in 2003 after the investigative and intelligence resources of the United States Customs service were combined with the criminal investigative, detention and deportation resources of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to create a separate agency. The calls have grown particularly loud due to ICE’s separation of parents and children who crossed the border illegally due to the Trump administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings.
Trump signed an executive order last week allowing for children to be detained alongside their parents. However, the details of how the administration would deal with federal law mandating that minors may only be held for 20 days is still unclear.