Sen. Angus King (I., Maine) said on Sunday that the movement to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is not a sensible thing to do.
“I don’t know if I say abolish. I don’t think that makes a lot of sense, but I do think looking at it makes a hell of a lot of sense,” King said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
There is a growing movement among liberals and progressives to abolish ICE. Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary, called ICE a “terrorist organization” and said it should be abolished. Other progressive candidates and activists have adopted this as part of their platform amid the controversy of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy for illegal immigration.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) indicated that she appears to be open to abolishing ICE and starting from scratch.
“I think there’s no question that we have to critically re-examine ICE and its role and the way it is being administered and we probably need to think about starting from scratch,” Harris said.
NBC anchor Chuck Todd asked King if ICE was the bigger problem than illegal immigration.
“I don’t know how you abolish an agency without abolishing the function and I think the function is necessary,” King said. “As far as what she said about examining what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, I think that’s absolutely something we should do. That’s our responsibility to provide oversight but ultimately there is going to have to be an agency.”
Todd then brought up a recent article by Andrew Sullivan who argued that Democrats should grant President Donald Trump his proposed border wall in order to stop the separation of families and provide a solution for DACA recipients.
King then said he and other senators voted for a measure that was similar to that, only to see it go down in the face of White House opposition.
“Ironically, Chuck, we did that. Mike Rounds (R., S.D.) and I had an amendment and it was the one that got the most votes on the floor of the Senate. We got 54 votes. It was in a sense DACA for the wall, and the wall was fully funded,” King said. “The Democratic caucus voted, I think, 46 out of 48 member, and 49 members for it. That was a hard sell, but the White House itself torpedoed the bill.”