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 HolderBarack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Ocasio-Cortez to be first guest on new Desus and Mero show Holder says he will make 2020 decision in coming weeks 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 TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration 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 McCarthySteve King asks for Congressional Record correction over white supremacist quote Steve King urges supporters to pray for his committee assignments to be restored: report Congress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse MORE (R-Calif.) responded by confirming a time for a vote on the bill.

Democratic Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanHannity decries Green New Deal as 'economically guaranteed-to-be-devastating' Ocasio-Cortez unveils Green New Deal climate resolution Trump’s AIDS turnaround greeted with skepticism by some advocates MORE (Wis.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Democrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Utah tests Trump on Medicaid expansion | Dems roll out Medicare buy-in proposal | Medicare for all could get hearing next month | Doctors group faces political risks on guns MORE (Wash.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralHere are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown 8-year-old boy dies in CBP custody Hispanic Caucus picks Castro as its next chair 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.