New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is calling for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be abolished, saying that the agency has "become a punitive, negative tool for division," and is "no longer acceptable."
In calling for the agency to be disbanded, de Blasio echoed comments made by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a political newcomer who defeated Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a Democratic primary race on Tuesday.
"You need some kind of agency to deal with immigration, but ICE is not that," de Blasio said on "The Brian Lehrer Show" on WYNC. "ICE has proven it can't be that. ICE's time has come and gone; it is broken. ICE has been sent on a very negative, divisive mission, and it cannot function the way it is."
"So I think Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is right," he added. "We should abolish ICE. We should create something better, something different."
Calls to do away with ICE, which was established in 2003, have grown in recent days amid a public furor over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy mandating the prosecution of all people who cross into the U.S. illegally through Mexico.
That policy has led thousands of migrant children to be separated from their parents or guardians at the southern border — a practice that has drawn widespread condemnation.
At least 19 ICE investigators have signed a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenUS to restart 'Remain in Mexico' program following court order Far-left bullies resort to harassing, shaming Kyrsten Sinema — it won't work Ex-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP MORE calling for the agency to be dissolved and for its work to be shifted to another bureau.
Trump signed an executive order last week allowing children to be detained alongside their parents. But exactly how that order will be implemented remains unclear, because minors are only allowed to be held for 20 days.
A federal judge in San Diego also responded to a lawsuit over the family separations this week by ordering the government to move quickly to reunite children with their parents. Children under the age of 5 must be reunited with their families within 14 days, while the government must reunite older children within 30 days, the order says.