In Spring 2012, the assistant director of the FBI’s International Operations Division curtly informed me that I would become deputy legal attaché — a position at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. I had six months to learn Spanish.
The office, he said, had been designated as “I&I” — bureau-speak for “inefficient and ineffective,” a death knell for an FBI post. “Learn the language and embrace the culture. The FBI needs law enforcement allies in Mexico,” he said. “It’s a troubled law enforcement climate down there. We need a collaborative effort at the border. Make it happen.”
However, I’m troubled by the extremist views now advocating for something that would have been unconscionable to almost all Americans just a year or two ago. The leftist fringe of our political divide believe the appropriate antidote to a broken immigration system — and the repudiation of anything Trump — is to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency charged with enforcing immigration laws and investigating criminal and terrorist activities of foreign nationals residing in the U.S.
This is madness.
Donald Trump resoundingly won the 2016 presidential election by embracing nationalism, employing a jingoistic slogan of “Make America Great Again” and leveraging an insular message of “America First.” Now, growing numbers of Democrats are doubling-down in opposition to him by placating a small but loyal base on the outer edges of their party’s ideology.
In July, Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandTlaib blasts Biden judicial nominee whose firm sued environmental lawyer The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Former aide says she felt 'abandoned' by Democrats who advanced Garcetti nomination as ambassador to India MORE (R-N.Y.) cynically recrafted her reasonable, centrist positions that helped her win in 2009. No longer appealing to the relatively conservative (minus liberal New York City) Empire State, she is laser-focused on Manhattan’s uber-progressive Upper East Side and West Side, and signed on to the “abolish ICE” lunacy.
In Gillibrand’s distorted worldview, enforcement of U.S. laws at our sovereign borders is antithetical to our values as a nation of immigrants. She joins fellow open-border advocates and “abolish ICE” loons like Sens.Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTo stabilize Central America, the US must craft better incentives for trade Majority in new poll say US headed in wrong direction Biden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' MORE (D-Calif.), who argue that ICE — not a flawed system — is the problem.
New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon even referred to ICE as a “terrorist organization.”
And Congressman Keith EllisonKeith EllisonMinnesota AG sues COVID-19 testing lab over allegedly fraudulent results Daunte Wright family lawyers call for 'strongest and most just sentence' for ex-officer Ex-officer Kim Potter found guilty in fatal shooting of Daunte Wright MORE (D-Minn.), the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, recently wore a black t-shirt emblazoned with “Yo no creo en fronteras.” Since your tax dollars financed my Spanish language-training, allow me to translate: “I don’t believe in borders.”
But Democrats don’t want you to believe they want open borders. That’s all just Trump’s stir-the-base fear-mongering, right?
Now, in one of numerous similar instances around the nation, a SWAT team from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office was called to the Centennial, Colorado ICE facility to handle protestors blocking its entry.
So, this is where we are: The left wants us to respect government institutions like the FBI and the Justice Department when the president attacks them for disgraceful behavior by supposedly apolitical senior executives — but it’s okay for the left to assail another institution, ICE, as terroristic. Nonsense.
Having an immigration enforcement arm that patrols the southern border and holds to account those who disrespect our sovereign boundaries isn’t “anti-immigrant” or “xenophobic” or “racist.” Yet, just as President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE has leveraged decent Americans’ fears that our porous borders are of no consequence to the left, Democrats are now deftly employing identity politics to disingenuously pretend the right is “anti-immigrant.”
Abolishing ICE is a fool’s errand and plays to the extreme fringes occupied by leftist darlings like New York congressional candidate and media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She is the poster child for the “abolish ICE” movement and has advocated occupying border crossings, airports, and ICE offices across the country.
It’s time that the adults stood up in both political parties and said, “Enough!”
I know this because I’m a 53-year-old American who has served our country, under arms, for 33 year and spent time in the amazing country of Mexico. “Abolish ICE” is a clownish, foolhardy publicity stunt by some Democrats — and the sensible leaders and followers of that party should reject it, now, before the party and the country are damaged even more.
James A. Gagliano is a CNN law enforcement analyst and retired FBI supervisory special agent. He is an adjunct assistant professor at St. John's University and a leadership consultant at the Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG) at his alma mater, the United States Military Academy at West Point. Follow him on Twitter @JamesAGagliano.