House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) broke with some on the far left of his party Monday, telling Fox that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is an “absolutely essential agency" just “like the IRS.”
“Some suggested eliminating ICE as an organization. I was not for that,” Hoyer said. “The Speaker was not for that clearly. We’re going to have immigrants, we’re going to have customs. We need enforcement.”
Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has led calls to abolish ICE.
"The president should not be asking for more money to an agency that has systematically violated human rights," she said on MSNBC last month. "The president should be really defending why we are funding such an agency at all because right now what we are seeing is death. Right now what we are seeing is the violation of human rights."
In his remarks Monday, Hoyer also conceded that some infrastructure is necessary at the border.
“We think you need personnel, you need infrastructure, you need technology,” he said. “We were just at the border. Clearly those are all necessary.”
However, he accused President Trump of overstating the criminal portion of illegal immigrants and said “we ought not to have these roundups” of those in the country illegally.
“Hopefully they will reach an agreement soon,” Hoyer said of averting a government shutdown that will occur on February 15th if an agreement on border security is not reached.
In an interview last month, Hoyer said that “physical barriers are a part of the solution," and disagreed with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) characterization of walls as inherently “immoral.”