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

Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans'
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Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderFBI, Justice Dept plan to redact Russia documents despite Trump order for full declassification: report Dem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Dem lawmaker jabs Trump call for transparency by asking for his tax returns 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 TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that led to thousands of migrant families being separated at the southern border. 

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Earlier this week, a group of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would eliminate the agency. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE (R-Calif.) responded by confirming a time for a vote on the bill.

Democratic Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanBlue wave poses governing risks for Dems Trump Jr., Dem congressman spar over Ellison's association with Farrakhan Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen MORE (Wis.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalBlue wave poses governing risks for Dems Dem rep: Why shouldn’t Americans believe Trump is as corrupt as his friends? Sunday shows preview: Trump faces fallout after Manafort flips MORE (Wash.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralOvernight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Dems plan resolution to withdraw US forces from Yemen civil war Impeachment debate moves to center of midterm fight 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.