House GOP to bring Dem ‘abolish ICE’ bill up for vote

House GOP leaders plan to bring a Democratic measure calling for the abolishment of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the House floor, hoping to force Democrats into a difficult vote.

The Democratic bill, introduced Thursday, would create a commission to examine ICE’s responsibilities and then recommend transferring them to other agencies.

Republicans see the growing “abolish ICE” movement as a political winner that will make at least some Democrats running in swing districts uncomfortable.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Democrats have been trying to make July 4th about abolishing ICE, which is a radical, extreme position that would lead to open borders and undermine America's national security,” House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseRoy to challenge Stefanik for Cheney's old position Stefanik shake-up jump-starts early jockeying for committee posts Freedom Caucus Republican says Cheney was 'canceled' MORE (R-La.) told The Hill.

“I think it's the wrong approach. I think everyone ought to be on record about where they stand on that issue.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyRoy to challenge Stefanik for Cheney's old position Stefanik shake-up jump-starts early jockeying for committee posts Why Cheney was toppled, and what it says about the GOP and Trump's claims MORE (R-Calif.) said he planned to bring the Democratic bill to the floor.

The Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act was introduced Thursday by Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanProgressives divided over efforts to repeal SALT cap Left feels empowered after Biden backtracks on refugees NIH reverses Trump administration's ban on fetal tissue research MORE (D-Wis.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalBiden spending plans hit speed bumps Overnight Health Care: CDC approves Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 | House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill | Panel blasts COVID-19 response House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill MORE (D-Wash.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralHispanic Caucus energized by first Biden meeting Lawmakers remember actress Cicely Tyson Over 40 lawmakers sign letter urging Merrick Garland to prioritize abolishing death penalty MORE (D-N.Y.).

They argue that ICE, which was created in 2003 as part of a new Homeland Security Department, has become “militarized” in its approach to deportations.

President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE’s blanket directive to round up and target all undocumented immigrants underscores the unchecked power which ICE has used to terrorize our communities,” Pocan said in a statement. “From conducting raids at garden centers and meatpacking plants to targeting families outside churches and schools, the president is using ICE as a mass-deportation force to rip apart the moral fabric of our nation.”

Republicans have blasted the effort, arguing dissolving the agency would lead to an influx of human and drug trafficking and gang violence and increase the country's risk of being subjected to an act of terrorism. 

And some Democrats have signaled they do not support the effort.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) has stopped short of calling for ICE’s abolishment, for example.

“No American likes the separation of children and that’s an awful thing and that’s got to be stopped, but ICE does do some things that are very important,” he said at a press conference in Buffalo earlier this month. 

Scalise first pushed for the move during meetings with the deputy whip team and at the Republican Study Committee steering committee meeting, where members were receptive to the idea, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions.