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Progressives retreat from ‘Abolish ICE’ priority

November 12, 2018

Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said Monday they won’t push to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government’s deportation agency, putting distance between themselves and some of the demands of most liberal members and activists.

Rep. Mark Pocan, co-chair of the caucus, said that he still wants to see a review of the policies at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but it’s a lesser priority than issues such as health care.

“I’m assuming that we have other folks that have been pretty vocal on this issue that are still going to bring it to Congress,” Mr. Pocan said. “However, I think our main goal out the gates will be issues that we ran on across all districts.”

Calls to abolish the agency went from a radical fringe to mainstream liberal candidates earlier this year after the Trump administration’s botched zero-tolerance border policy left thousands of children separated from parents. While ICE wasn’t heavily involved in those decisions, the agency still became the target of violent protests and severe political backlash.

Amid those protests, Mr. Pocan and Rep. Pramila Jaypal, caucus vice chair, said while introducing legislation over the summer that they would “end ICE.”

But they now say that was misunderstood.

“The bill was never called ’Abolish ICE. The bill was called Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System [Act],” Ms. Jayapal said Monday.

The bill would have created a commission to come up with a new system for handling ICE’s role, and called for terminating ICE within a year.

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