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May 19, 2019

Mayor de Blasio joins calls for abolishing ICE: ‘It is broken’

June 30, 2018
Mayor Bill de Blasio called for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement in an interview with Brian Lehrer on WNYC, Friday, jumping on the bandwagon that helped propel Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to victory (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Add Mayor de Blasio’s name to the growing list of politicians who want to put ICE on ice.

Hizzoner called for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement — jumping on the issue that helped propel Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to victory over Rep. Joseph Crowley in Queens.

“I think that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is right,” de Blasio, who endorsed Crowley over her, said on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show.” “We should abolish ICE. We should create something better, something different. But in the way it’s developed, it has become a punitive, negative tool for division and it’s no longer acceptable.”

De Blasio said he thinks the country needs “some kind of sensible, transparent immigration regulation.”

“But ICE is not that.ICE has proven it can’t be that. ICE’s time has come and gone,” he said. “It is broken. It has been sent, ICE has been sent on a very negative, divisive mission, and it cannot function the way it is.”

On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez thanked the mayor for taking the position.

“Thank you, @NYCMayor, for joining the call that seems the separation of children and violation of human rights as an inexcusable bright red line in the United States of America,” she wrote.

But some immigration activists, who have criticized de Blasio for endangering undocumented immigrants through arrests for low-level quality of life crimes, were immediately skeptical of his position — noting the city’s cooperation with ICE deportations when a person has committed a certain set of serious crimes, and his refusal to fund legal representation for those people in deportation proceedings.

“Yes Mr Mayor, #AbolishICE, but ALSO abolish your dangerous effort to deny legal representation to many immigrants across NY,” Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) tweeted.

De Blasio joins a growing groundswell among progressive Democrats against ICE. Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Gov. Cuomo for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, has called for abolishing the agency in recent weeks.

And Thursday night, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made comments similar to de Blasio’s — saying the country should “get rid” of ICE and start over.

“I believe that it has become a deportation force. And I think you should separate out the criminal justice from the immigration issues. And I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency with a very different mission and take those two missions out,” she said on CNN. “So we believe that we should protect families that need our help and that is not what ICE is doing today. And that’s why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works.”

Gov. Cuomo has stopped short of calling for an end to ICE, but has ripped its current work.

“ICE was supposed to be an anti-terrorism organization….ICE is now a political police organization for the presidents’ political agenda,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “It is a deplorable use of a police department to politicize it the way Trump has.”

The mayor praised Ocasio-Cortez as a member of his progressive “wing” of the Democratic party — but defended his own endorsement of Crowley, who was the fourth from the top of the House Democratic leadership and also runs the Queens County party machine. The mayor argued Crowley’s position of power in the House was important to the city.

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