Progressive Md. governor candidate declines to call for ICE to be abolished

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous, the newly minted Democratic nominee in Maryland’s gubernatorial race, on Tuesday declined to call for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be eliminated.

“I get this question every day. ... We need an immigration service,” Jealous said in an interview with Hill.TV’s “Rising.” “I understand the emotional charge, I don’t quite understand how that works.”

Following Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning primary victory last week, a growing chorus of Democrats have publicly called to abolish ICE, which includes a number of potential 2020 presidential hopefuls.

President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE on Tuesday pushed back on Democrats calling for ICE’s elimination, accusing them of “demeaning” the agency and suggesting that the party could face political blowback in November.

Jealous, a progressive who garnered Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks MORE’s (I-Vt.) endorsement during the primary, said that in light of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that has led to family separations at the border, the focus should instead be on immigration policy.

“When it comes to immigration, we need an immigration service,” Jealous said, adding that “what we really need is an immigration policy that works.”

Jealous won a double-digit primary victory last week and will now face Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in a tough general election. While Maryland is a deep-blue state, Hogan is one of the most popular governors in the country, with high job approval numbers. 

— Lisa Hagan