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Pocan To Introduce Bill Abolishing ICE

Democrat Says The Federal Immigration Agency Has Ceased To Serve Intended Purpose

Mark Pocan
Democratic U.S. House Rep. Mark Pocan. Marylee Williams/WPR

Wisconsin U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan will introduce a plan to Congress this week to abolish the United States immigration enforcement agency.

Under Pocan’s plan, the government would eliminate U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and either “rebrand” it or distribute its essential functions to other federal departments.

ICE was established in 2003. Its duties include combating human trafficking and drug smuggling, in addition to immigration enforcement. According to the federal government, the agency has more 20,000 employees in more than 400 offices around the country, as well as 46 offices abroad.

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Speaking with reporters in Madison on Monday, Pocan, a Democrat, argued the agency is no longer serving its intended purpose. He said ICE is clogging federal courts with low-level offenders, instead of going after individuals who have committed serious crimes.

“Right now, ICE is being misused by the president in a way that makes it unable to function as it needs to,” he said.

Pocan also argued ICE isn’t able to pursue serious offenders because political pushback over immigration enforcement has made it difficult to establish relationships with local law enforcement in some areas. Nineteen ICE agents sent a letter to the Trump administration last month to that effect.

In response to the criticism, President Trump has tweeted in support of the agency, saying it is “liberating communities from savage gangs like MS-13” and abolishing it amounts to “declaring war on law and order.”

The president also linked eliminating the agency to supporting open borders.

“That’s either stupid or intentionally misleading, because ICE does not patrol the borders,” Pocan said.

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, also a Democrat, said Monday she doesn’t support ending the agency.

“We should not abolish ICE, but we need to make sure they’re focusing on their highest priority – targeting violent criminals and drug traffickers, not families and refugees,” she said in a prepared statement. “This is yet another example of why we need comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken system.”

Pocan said he expects to officially introduce the legislation Thursday.