Ex-ICE director: It should be an 'abolish Trump' movement, not an 'abolish ICE' movement

Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting Director John Sandweg said Monday that the Democratic movement to abolish the agency should turn into one that aims to "abolish Trump." 

"I understand the frustration when you see policies like we’ve seen at the border where you’re separating kids," Sandweg said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "When you see the interior immigration enforcement policies where we’re targeting the wrong people and no longer going after the criminals. I can understand where all this frustration stems from, but frankly it should be an 'abolish Trump' movement, not an 'abolish ICE' movement." 

Sandweg added that it is not ICE's fault that the Trump administration adopted such strict immigration policies, such as its "zero tolerance" policy that resulted in thousands of children separated from their families at the southern border. 


Despite signing an executive order to halt that practice in June, Trump is still facing plenty of scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers about his administration's stances on immigration. 

Much of the criticism of Trump's administration has focused on ICE, with a growing chorus of lawmakers calling for the elemination of the agency, which was created in 2003. Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day Gillibrand uses Trump Jr. tweet to fundraise Meghan McCain: 'Don't underestimate' Bernie Sanders MORE (D-N.Y.) became the first senator to call for the agency's elimination last week. 

In addition, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) introduced legislation that would get rid of the federal agency. Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Jim McGovern (Mass.), Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) and Michael Capuano (Mass.) have all indicated they would support the measure. 

Capuano said in a statement that his "focus is on reuniting children with their parents and stopping Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE’s hateful policies ripping families apart."

"I voted against the creation of ICE," he said. "However, changing who enforces bad policy now doesn’t fix that bad policy and it won’t bring families back together. The policies being enforced are more important than the agency enforcing them. Before ICE existed there was [Immigration and Naturalization Service], under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General. No one should think for a minute that Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says he was interviewed by Mueller CNN hires former DOJ spokesperson under Sessions as editor on 2020 campaign MORE would impose different policies than Donald Trump."

Trump has taken aim at Democrats over this emerging argument. Over the weekend, he tweeted that there was "zero chance" that the immigration agency would be abolished. 

—Updated at 1:19 p.m.