Democratic Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees The FBI comes up empty-handed in its search for a Jan. 6 plot 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.
“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 SandersManchin suggests pausing talks on .5 trillion package until 2022: report Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Sanders calls deadly Afghan drone strike 'unacceptable' MORE (I-Vt.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Harris facilitates coin toss at Howard University football game Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol 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 PelosiBiden pushes back at Democrats on taxes Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Of partisan fights and follies, or why Democrats should follow Manchin, not Sanders 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.