Gillibrand calls to eliminate ICE: 'Get rid of it, start over'

Democratic Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAt debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions Klobuchar, Buttigieg find themselves accidentally flying to debate together MORE (N.Y.) became the first sitting senator on Thursday to call for the elimination of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), telling CNN that the agency should be "reimagined."

In an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, the New York Democrat was asked whether she agreed with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a primary Tuesday while running on a platform to fully shut down ICE.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Well, I agree with it. I don’t think ICE today is working as intended," Gillibrand said, referring to Ocasio-Cortez's platform.

Pressed on the issue by Cuomo, Gillibrand went further than her liberal colleagues including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (I-Vt.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Gun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' MORE (D-Calif.), who have called for the agency to be examined but not fully abolished.

"I believe that it has become a deportation force. And I think you should separate out the criminal justice from the immigration issues," she continued. "I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency, with a very different mission, and take those two missions out. So we believe that we should protect families that need our help, and that is not what ICE is doing today."

"And that's why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works," she added.

Ocasio-Cortez stunned Washington on Tuesday night with her double-digit victory over Crowley, a member of the House Democratic leadership and someone once considered to be in line to succeed Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiProgressives call for impeachment inquiry after reported Kavanaugh allegations The promise and peril of offshoring prescription drug pricing Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump MORE (D-Calif.) as a possible Speaker.

Gillibrand, considered a possible 2020 Democratic presidential contender, has criticized the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy and introduced legislation to require ICE agents to keep records of immigration checks they perform on train and bus passengers.

“Keeping our country safe cannot come at a cost to basic human rights. When border patrol agents stop and question people in New York and in many places across the country, they aren’t keeping data about why they targeted a particular person or what happened during their encounter,” Gillibrand said in a statement last month.