'Abolish ICE' is a political winner — for Donald Trump

'Abolish ICE' is a political winner — for Donald Trump

When President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE makes a political miscalculation, you can usually count on his opponents becoming so unhinged that the White House is able to flip the script so that the bullseye is no longer on the president’s back but affixed squarely on his detractors. That is precisely what is happening as some Democrats around the country push to “abolish ICE,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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As The Hill recently reported, the call to abolish ICE is quickly being adopted by Democrats who want to see their stars rise in the 2020 presidential election. Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWhich proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan? Proposals to reform supports for parents face chopping block Under pressure, Democrats cut back spending MORE (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats face critical 72 hours The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal This week: Democrats aim to unlock Biden economic, infrastructure package MORE (D-Mass.), and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe Kamala Harris engages with heckler during New York speech Biden's safe-space CNN town hall attracts small audience, as poll numbers plummet MORE (D-Calif) have all called for the agency to be abolished or to “start from scratch.” Another likely 2020 hopeful, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), joined the chorus too.  

 

Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy calls for the prosecution of illegal border crossers, where previously “catch and release” was the standard process. Due to inadequacies with the current law on the books, a side effect was that parents who illegally crossed the border were separated from their alleged children. After several weeks of the policy, it was clear that the practice of separating parents and children was rapidly becoming an optics nightmare. The Trump administration has since ceased the practice of separating children from their parents and will now “detain families together during the pendency of immigration proceedings when they are apprehended at or between ports of entry.”

Democrats, predictably, went straight to the Nazi/fascist/inhumane playbook. However, since Trump signed his executive order ending the separation of families, Democrats have doubled down. Their continued badgering of the president and his administration on the issue of illegal immigration turns out to be vastly out-of-touch with the majority of American voters. And the campaign by some on the left to “abolish ICE,” the government entity tasked with enforcing immigration law inside the country is a political loser.

According to the latest Harvard-Harris poll, 70 percent of registered voters, including 69 percent of independents, think we need stricter enforcement of the country’s immigration laws. Sixty-nine percent of those polled said ICE should not be abolished. Further, the survey found tremendous opposition, 84 percent, to the sanctuary city practice of not notifying immigration authorities when an an illegal immigrant has been arrested for crimes and taken into custody.

Trump seems to have landed on a political winner with his “four pillars” immigration policy. This proposal, which would provide work permits and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought here as children, otherwise known as DACA beneficiaries, in exchange for ending the diversity visa lottery program, funding barrier security on the U.S. southern border, and limiting chain-migration in favor of merit-based, is supported by 63 percent of registered voters.

The takeaway for an increasing number of Americans is that the Democratic Party is insincere about enforcing our immigration laws or borders. When you strip away the hyperbole and hysteria, the campaign against ICE is, at its core, a campaign for open borders. It is so far outside of mainstream thinking, it not only plays right into the hands of Donald Trump, but it also provides Congressional Republicans with a much needed counter-balance to Democratic enthusiasm four months out from the 2018 midterms. After all, immigration will drive more Republicans to the polls than any other issue, according to Gallup, offsetting the supposed enthusiasm gap Democrats are counting on to retake one or both houses of Congress.

If Democrats fail to wise up and tone down the theatrics, Republicans will ride this issue all the way to the ballot-box.

Ford O'Connell is the chairman of CivicForumPAC, an adjunct professor at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, worked on John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' Grant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Will Trump choose megalomania over country? MORE's 2008 presidential campaign, and authored the book "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery." Follow him on Twitter @FordOConnell.