Angus King: Congress shouldn't abolish ICE, should 'absolutely' examine it

Sen. Angus KingAngus KingBiden's ATF nominee on shaky ground in Senate GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal White House cyber chief backs new federal bureau to track threats MORE (I-Maine) said Sunday he doesn’t think it makes sense to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but that he supports examining how the agency operates. 

King was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisA permanent Child Tax Credit expansion will yield dividends to taxpayers Kamala Harris and our shameless politics Pelosi: House Democrats 'ready to work with' Biden on eviction ban MORE’s (D-Calif.) comments that the government think about “starting from scratch” with ICE amid heightened scrutiny of the agency’s methods.

“I don’t know how you abolish an agency without abolishing the function, and I think the function is necessary,” King said, adding Congress should “absolutely” examine ICE. 

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“There has to be some agency to administer the immigration laws in the country. But taking a look at how they’re doing it, how they’re approaching it … there are a lot of questions to be answered,” he said.

ICE has emerged at the forefront of the Trump administration's efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. The agency has made headlines in recent months for its detention strategies, such as when it took a man into custody while he was delivering a pizza or when it apprehended a legal resident who had lived in the U.S. for 50 years.

Immigration advocates have started "Occupy ICE" protests in recent days calling for an end to the agency, as well as additional reforms.

King said Sunday that he doesn't believe the government should go as far as to eliminate the agency.

"I don’t know if I say abolish, I don’t think that makes a lot of sense," he said. "But I do think looking at it makes a hell of a lot of sense."