The Slatest

House Democrats Preparing Legislation That Would Abolish ICE

An exterior view of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency headquarters in Washington, DC.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency headquarters in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

As the horrors of the Trump administration became plain, Democratic activists began demanding the government “abolish ICE,” thereby putting an end to the 15-year-old federal immigration and customs enforcement agency that under Trump has been operating with Stasi-like ruthlessness in its pursuit of undocumented immigrants. Now, a trio of House Democrats are set to introduce an “Abolish ICE” bill that would do just that, the Washington Post reports.

The bill, authored by Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan and co-sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), both immigrants themselves, proposes phasing out ICE over a one-year period and creating a bipartisan group charged with coming up with a replacement. “The White House would have no role in the group, which would consist of eight members appointed by congressional leaders and minority party leaders, and nine members from the ‘major civil society and immigrants’ rights organizations and individuals directly impacted by ICE practices,’” according to the Post. “That group would be required to ‘identify all essential functions of ICE that uphold the Constitution,’ then ‘identify the appropriate federal agencies that shall be tasked with executing activities such as combating financial crimes, cybercrimes, trade fraud, human trafficking and drug smuggling…’

The working group would also be charged with investigating the ICE’s recent conduct, using a “truth and reconciliation”-style approach that would evaluate “failures to comply with congressional oversight requirements, violations of constitutional protections and U.S. laws, failures to comply with agency policies and directives, violations of human rights, and any other longstanding patterns of medical neglect, solitary confinement, wrongful death, and other abuses for which ICE is wholly or partially responsible.”

A draft of the bill was distributed to House Democrats last week following the Fourth of July recess and the details are still being hammered out. “The ICE brand has been so damaged by the president that it can no longer accomplish its original mission,” Rep. Pocan told the Post. “Even ICE agents recognize that ICE doesn’t do what it was intended to.”