Potential dark horse 2020 Dem: 'I don’t think abolishing ICE is a good idea'

Potential dark horse 2020 Dem: 'I don’t think abolishing ICE is a good idea'
© Getty Images

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) distanced himself on Sunday from calls by some other Democrats to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), saying that doing so is not "a good idea."

"I don’t think abolishing ICE is a good idea, primarily because when police departments get out of the way, do the wrong thing or are governed in the wrong way, you don’t say get rid of the police department," Landrieu said on CNN's "State of the Union." "You reform the police department."

Landrieu said the U.S. is a "nation of immigrants" but also a "nation of laws," adding that Congress has been "remiss" not to pursue comprehensive immigration reform.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I do think that Congress has been remiss in not passing comprehensive immigration reform," he said. "But it does have to be common sense, it has to be thoughtful and it has to protect the border, while at the same time making sure that everybody is dealt with in a constitutional way."

Landrieu, who has been mentioned as a potential dark horse candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, told host Jake Tapper that he doesn't "intend to run" in 2020.

A number of Democrats, primarily in the party's progressive wing, have called in recent weeks to do away with ICE, arguing that the agency has failed to serve the purpose for which it was established.

The demands to abolish the agency arose amid intense public scrutiny of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which prioritizes prosecutions of people who cross into the U.S. illegally.

That policy led to thousands of migrant children being separated from their parents at the southern border before, bowing to intense bipartisan backlash, President TrumpDonald John TrumpPaul Ryan defends Navy admiral after Trump's criticism Trump discussing visit overseas to troops following criticism: report Retired Army General: Trump is ‘acting like an 8th grader’ in attacking ex-Navy SEAL who led bin Laden operation MORE signed an executive order reversing his administration's policy.

The government has sought in recent weeks to reunify families in response to a court-ordered mandate to do so.

While the government said Friday that more than 1,800 children had been reunited with their parents, it said that hundreds more were deemed "ineligible" for family reunification.

— This report was updated at 1:30 p.m.