Ocasio-Cortez suggests she's open to dissolving Homeland Security

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez to hold campaign rallies in Los Angeles, Las Vegas Overwhelming majority say social media companies have too much influence: poll MORE (D-N.Y.) suggested that she is open to dissolving the Department of Homeland Security in an interview The New Yorker published Wednesday.

The New York freshman said Immigration and Customs Enforcement "and, frankly, the entire Department of Homeland Security" are "very large threats to American civil liberties."


"Would you get rid of Homeland Security, too?" The New Yorker Radio Hour's David Remnick asked.

"I think so. I think we need to undo a lot of the egregious mistakes that the Bush Administration did," she replied. "I feel like it is a very qualified and supported position, at least in terms of evidence and in terms of being able to make the argument that we never should have created D.H.S., in the early two-thousands."

DHS was formed in 2002, a process that brought together several existing institutions under one agency roof.

Ocasio-Cortez's position seems to be one step further than the progressive argument that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be abolished.

Ocasio-Cortez spokesperson Corbin Trent later explained to The Hill that the position she floated in the interview would involve dissolving the DHS as an umbrella agency and re-assigning sub-agencies, like the Coast Guard and FEMA, to other departments.

He added that the suggestion is something to be “looked at studied, not something to be done flippantly."

The lawmaker has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration's immigration policies and treatment of detained migrants.

Ocasio-Cortez recently accompanied a group of Democratic lawmakers to two detention facilities in Texas and described the conditions as "horrible."

She said during the interview that she witnessed "some of the most inhumane behavior" there.

"It's not even living. ... It was the physical manifestation of Trump's rhetoric in calling migrants animals. Because that's how these women were being treated. Their hair was falling out, they had sores in their mouth due to the lack of nutrition. ... The cruelty is the point," she said. 

Ocasio-Cortez's suggestion about dissolving DHS has already elicited backlash from conservatives.

"We've heard them talk about abolishing ICE before, but [Ocasio-Cortez] now said she wants to abolish the entire department. And we will just remind everyone that the Department of Homeland Security is comprised of approximately 22 agencies. They undertake fundamental cyber, intel operations for the nation," Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyGOP calls for minority hearing on impeachment, threatens procedural measures Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Stopgap spending bill includes military pay raise | Schumer presses Pentagon to protect impeachment witnesses | US ends civil-nuclear waiver in Iran Cruz, Graham and Cheney call on Trump to end all nuclear waivers for Iran MORE (Wyo.), the third-ranking House Republican, told reporters Wednesday.

"The level of just absolute irresponsibility now that we are seeing in the Democratic side among someone who clearly is one of the intellectual leaders now in the Democratic Party is really stunning," she added.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R) blasted the suggestion as "ridiculous."

"The Dept. of Homeland Security has been invaluable to our country’s safety since it was created after the 9/11 attacks," he tweeted. "ICE & CBP agents risk their lives to keep us safe while Dems sit in their comfy offices & attack them. It’s shameful."

Juliegrace Brufke contributed to this report.