House

Dems say they’ll vote ‘no’ on their ‘Abolish ICE’ legislation

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A group of Democrats who introduced legislation to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said they will vote against the measure if GOP leadership follows through with their vow to bring it to the House floor.

Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) released a statement Thursday accusing GOP leaders of exploiting the legislation for political gain after leadership confirmed it planned to hold a vote.

While the Democratic lawmakers said they plan to vote against their own measure – which would create a commission to examine ICE’s responsibilities and then recommend transferring them to other agencies – they said they welcome the opportunity for debate.

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“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.

“If Speaker Ryan puts our bill on the floor, we plan to vote no and will instead use the opportunity to force an urgently needed and long-overdue conversation on the House floor,” it continued. “We will discuss the thousands of families still separated by President Trump’s cruel zero-tolerance policy, the 800,000 young people whose lives have been thrown into turmoil by the President’s decision to end DACA, and the abuses carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

“We look forward to the day that we have meaningful action on the issues covered by our bill.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had confirmed earlier Thursday that he planned to schedule a vote on the bill.

Republicans are looking to force Democrats to take a difficult vote, placing Democrats in swing districts that have been critical of the agency in a challenging situation.

The GOP lawmakers said Democrats should be willing to show their constituents where they actually stand on the issue. 

“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 Scalise (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.”

Republicans have blasted the legislation, arguing eliminating the agency would lead to an influx of human and drug trafficking as well as gang violence, and increase the country’s risk of being subjected to an act of terrorism. 

Critics of ICE, which was created in 2003 as part of a new Homeland Security Department, argue it’s become “militarized” in its approach to deportations.

Tags Adriano Espaillat Donald Trump ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement Kevin McCarthy legislation Mark Pocan Pramila Jayapal Steve Scalise

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