McConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHill.TV poll: Majority of Republicans say Trump best represents the values of the GOP The Hill's 12:30 Report Republican strategist: Trump is 'driven by ego' MORE (R-Ky.) said on Friday that he wouldn't be "intimidated" by protesters who have confronted him several times in public amid a heated immigration fight.  

"I'm not sure what about my career has led them to believe that I am easily intimidated. ... This is all about intimidation. It's not about persuasion but about intimidation. And I assure you I will not be intimidated by these groups of socialists who apparently prefer open borders," McConnell told reporters in Kentucky. 

McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoMcConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters Protesters confront McConnell leaving Kentucky restaurant The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Wild night of primaries reshapes 2018 midterms MORE, were confronted as they left an event in Washington, D.C., last month by protesters over the Trump administration's then-policy of separating detained families who were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. 

Protesters heckled McConnell at two restaurants in Kentucky over the weekend, according to the Courier Journal, about abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The debate over nixing the agency has been catapulted into the national spotlight because of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, which resulted in the separation of thousands of migrant children from their families. 

The policy drew widespread bipartisan backlash and sparked nationwide protests. Bowing to pressure, President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Pawlenty loses comeback bid in Minnesota Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary MORE signed an executive order last month ending most family separations, though he made no provisions at the time for reuniting families who had already been separated.

"Honestly, I enjoyed my lunch and I'm just sorry that other people at the restaurant seemed to be inconvenienced by all of this. But it's not about persuasion. It's about intimidation. I will not be intimidated by these people," McConnell added on Friday. 

He also took aim at the movement to abolish ICE, saying demonstrators were suggesting "having no one at all control the borders."

"What I worry about is that that point of view seems to be moving into the United States Senate. There are three credible Democratic United State senators thinking of running for president who have come out for getting rid of ICE," he added. 

Democratic Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocrats embracing socialism is dangerous for America Border patrol chief: Calls to abolish ICE impact the morale of my team Kamala Harris tied with Bernie Sanders as betting favorite for 2020 Dems MORE (N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenCanadian corporate tax cuts show success of strong economic policy Avenatti on 2020 campaign: 'The truth is my policy issue' Democrats embracing socialism is dangerous for America MORE (Mass.), considered potential 2020 White House contenders, have backed the push to get replace the agency. 

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisFormer Teacher of the Year wins Connecticut primary Democrats embracing socialism is dangerous for America Senate Judiciary announces Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing MORE (D-Calif.), another potential presidential hopeful, said late last month that it was time for the agency, which was formed in 2003, to be reexamined. 

A group of House Democrats introduced legislation this week that would create a commission to examine ICE’s responsibilities and then recommend transferring them to other agencies. But they said they would vote against the bill if House GOP leadership brought it for a vote, a move Democrats argue is for political gain. 

Meanwhile, dozens of GOP senators, including McConnell, are backing a resolution that offers support for ICE and dismisses calls to nix the agency as "an insult to the heroic law enforcement officers of ICE."