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 HolderGOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight Jeff Sessions returns to Justice Department to retrieve Cabinet chair The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain 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 TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated 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 leaders need to modernize Congress for the sake of America Overnight Energy: McConnell tees up vote on Green New Deal | Centrist Dems pitch alternative to plan | House Republican likens Green New Deal to genocide | Coca-Cola reveals it uses 3M tons of plastic every year House GOP lawmaker says Green New Deal is like genocide MORE (R-Calif.) responded by confirming a time for a vote on the bill.

Democratic Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanTwo lawmakers just debated the merits of Nickelback on the House floor On The Money: Mnuchin urges Congress to raise debt limit 'as soon as possible' | NY officials subpoena Trump Org's longtime insurer | Dems offer bill to tax financial transactions Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez back 'end the forever war' pledge MORE (Wis.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOn The Money: Trump issues emergency order grounding Boeing 737 Max jets | Senate talks over emergency resolution collapse | Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks House Dems reintroduce the Dream Act MORE (Wash.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralNew Zealand mosque killings raise fears among US Muslims On The Money: Trump issues first veto, warning of 'reckless' resolution | US hits Russia with new sanctions | Dems renew push for contractor back pay | Lawmakers seek probe into undocumented workers at Trump businesses Hispanic Caucus demands probe into Trump Organization hiring undocumented workers 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.