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Heeding Immigrant Rights Activists' Demands, Democratic Lawmaker Joins Growing Call to Abolish ICE

"It's just really sad that it took this horrible tragedy for people to realize the only solution is to abolish ICE"

A woman holds a sign reading 'Fix immigration policy."

"During my trip to the southern border, it was clear that ICE, and its actions of hunting down and tearing apart families, has wreaked havoc on far too many people," Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said Monday. (Photo: Charles Edward Miller/flickr/cc)

Amid President Donald Trump's ongoing crackdown on immigrants, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) announced Monday his intention to introduce legislation to abolish ICE, joining a swelling chorus of demands that the Department of Homeland Security agency be eliminated.

"During my trip to the Southern border, it was clear that ICE, and its actions of hunting down and tearing apart families, has wreaked havoc on far too many people," he said in a statement. "From conducting raids at garden centers and meatpacking plants, to breaking up families at churches and schools, ICE is tearing apart families and ripping at the moral fabric of our nation."

"Unfortunately," he continued, "President Trump and his team of white nationalists, including Stephen Miller, have so misused ICE that the agency can no longer accomplish its goals effectively."

"I'm introducing legislation that would abolish ICE and crack down on the agency's blanket directive to target and round up individuals and families," he added, and indicated it would happen this week.

Pocan now joins a small handful of Democratic lawmakers who've made the call: Reps. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Jim McGovern (Mass.) , and Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), though progressive Democratic candidates, such as New York gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon and New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have made the statement as well.

Laying out his stance, Blumenauer wrote at Medium Sunday:

There is no turning back when agents of the federal government and our "commander-in-chief" lose respect for humanity and treat people like animals.

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We should abolish ICE and start over, focusing on our priorities to protect our families and our borders in a humane and thoughtful fashion. Now is the time for immigration reform that ensures people are treated with compassion and respect.

Zephyr Teachout, who's running for attorney general of New York, also took aim at abuses committed by ICE, calling it "an unaccountable and inhumane political tool, treating all immigrants as national security threats." The "horrors that we see today are part of a structural problem that George W. Bush created and that we can and must fix," she wrote at the Guardian. She added that "unrestrained power is almost always abusive. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is not an accident that ICE and CBP have become tools of illegality: it is part of the design. Therefore, we must abolish ICE."

For Maru Mora Villalpando, an undocumented immigrant and activist with the group Mijente and Northwest Detention Center Resistance, the calls from lawmakers to abolish ICE are welcome, but as it's been a charge led those on the front lines, lawmakers need to "follow their steps."

"What we want people to know is what the children are facing is something that ICE and this government had already practiced on us adults," she told Democracy Now! on Monday. "So this government is just escalating what they've done to us and our families in their interior."

"We have been calling for the abolition of ICE for a really long time. We [are] really happy that people are catching up with us. It's just really sad that it took this horrible tragedy for people to realize the only solution is to abolish ICE," she said, and called for the first steps to be defunding and dismantling it.

In addition, she called for the "charges against the parents to be dropped, suspension of deportations, and all forms of detention" to end. "We don't want anybody profiting from this tragedy, neither politically nor economically," she said, urging lawmakers to "follow the leadership  of  [those of] us that have been fighting this for a long time. They need to follow out steps we laid out starting with suspension of all deportations."

Villalpando, who says she has been targeted by the government because of her activism, appears Tuesday before a judge for her second deportation hearing.

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