Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans'

Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans'
© Getty Images

Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution MORE said Friday that the growing calls from Democrats to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are a "gift" to Republicans.

"I don’t think that substantively or politically that makes a great deal of sense," Holder, who served under former President Obama, told host Chuck Todd on MSNBC's "MTP Daily."

“In some ways, you're giving the Republicans a gift by saying we're going to have a debate now about whether ICE Should be abolished."

Holder's comments come as many Democratic lawmakers have voiced opposition to the agency in light of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that led to thousands of migrant families being separated at the southern border. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier this week, a group of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would eliminate the agency. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE Pelosi: 'The Russians have something on the president' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments MORE (R-Calif.) responded by confirming a time for a vote on the bill.

Democratic Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanHouse GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans' MORE (Wis.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalSparks fly at hearing on anti-conservative bias in tech House GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (Wash.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralHouse GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans' MORE (N.Y.) accused GOP leaders of attempting to exploit the legislation for political gain, saying they would vote against the measure if it was brought to the House floor.

"We know Speaker Ryan is not serious about passing our 'Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act,' so members of Congress, advocacy groups, and impacted communities will not engage in this political stunt," the Democrats said in a joint statement on Thursday, adding that they welcome an opportunity for a debate about the legislation. 

Republicans are hoping to force Democratic lawmakers running in swing districts in the November midterm elections into making a difficult vote on the agency. 

Holder told MSNBC that a debate on ICE moves away the focus from reunifying the thousands of migrant families separated at the border.

"The focus ought to be on what this administration did to those children,” Holder said.