Calls to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, recently a modish (if wholly impractical and genuinely dangerous) liberal policy proposal, have mostly disappeared.
In fact, one of the most powerful Democrats to propose doing away with the agency, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — seen of late languishing in the 2020 presidential polls behind Julian Castro, Andrew Yang and possibly Daffy Duck — went to great lengths to explain how she didn’t really mean to call for abolishing ICE when she called for abolishing ICE.
Bad liberal ideas never really die, however. (See also: socialism.) Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan Democrat probably best known for calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment in, um, unusual terms, is bringing back the notion of eliminating the immigration enforcement agency in a major way.
“Tlaib, headlining a Detroit fundraiser this past weekend for the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, complained of colleagues who are constantly ‘policing’ what she says and lack willingness to embrace bold stands such as abolishing ICE,” The Washington Free Beacon reported Thursday.
And to move the needle on the issue, Tlaib seemed to endorse hunger strikes to get it done.
“You know what it’s going to take? Movements outside the halls of Congress,” Tlaib told the Detroit audience in a video shared by America Rising, a conservative PAC.
“I want you all to shut them down. We can shut them down,” she said. “Don’t wait for this Congress to act. Shut them down.
“I know what they’re going to say, they’ll go, ‘What do you mean, Rashida?’ Well, I’ll tell you. There are some people that are using hunger strike, all these other things, going to the border, and I plan to.”
So does that mean Tlaib is going to the border to participate in a hunger strike in order to shut down ICE? Well, no.
“In a Thursday email, Tlaib’s communications director Denzel McCampbell said Tlaib was not actually calling for a hunger strike, but rather stating that ‘she knows of folks who have done’ them,” The Free Beacon reported.
There’s a great irony in this, in that Tlaib seemed to criticize Democrat leadership as being too “strategic” — read: realistic — yet she seemed to be pulling a Gillibrand here, noting that she wasn’t really calling for hunger strikes to abolish ICE, merely intimating she was familiar with some people who had done hunger strikes.
That didn’t seem to be what she said, although parsing her inexact words for actual policy prescriptions is likely a waste of time.
There’s also the possibility that she was referring to a spate of hunger strikes at ICE detention facilities earlier this year, most recently at the River Correctional Center in Louisiana among asylum-seekers who had been denied bond or parole.
Whatever the case, the specter of abolishing ICE has again risen from the grave. The corpse is bit of a straggler, to be sure, given that Tlaib is an outlier in the Democrat House caucus and that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems quietly determined to let freshman legislators like Tlaib know exactly where their place is. (Spoiler alert: That place does not involve pushing legislation.)
However, the cadaver of this horrible idea is lurching and shuffling enough that it’s occupied the background of another news cycle. And, in a post-Mueller world, the Democrats might need something to focus on if they decide that pursuing Trump on obstruction of justice isn’t worth it electorally.
Yet, then as now, abolishing ICE is a wretched idea pushed by legislators who want headlines but refuse to even commute to reality, much less live in it.
ICE is an organization that fulfills a multitude of roles, including policing our borders and — yes — detaining those who enter the country illegally. It also interdicts human traffickers and drug smugglers. In fact, the majority of what ICE does would probably be endorsed by most politicians; Tlaib herself has noted that border security existed before ICE, indicating she at least endorses some level of border security. We would still need law enforcement agents to put their lives on the line to keep Americans safe.
What, then, would abolishing the agency accomplish? Nothing for America, but a great deal for those who loudly demand the agency be shuttered. After all, they’re the people getting the headlines, not the ones who’ll have to deal with the logistical nightmare and safety issues that doing away with the agency would pose.
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