The progressive movement to abolish immigration and customs enforcement has officially reached Congress.
On Monday, Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan announced he intends to introduce a bill in Congress that would officially abolish ICE.
“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,” Pocan said in a statement announcing the legislation.
“The heartless actions of this abused agency do not represent the values of our nation, and the U.S. must develop a more humane immigration system, one that treats every person with dignity and respect,” he said.
Pocan’s bill would immediately dismantle ICE, transfer some of its duties to other agencies and create a commission to advise Congress on how to “implement a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals.”
For months the movement to abolish ICE has been growing in progressive circles, with at least 21 first-time Democratic congressional candidates coming out in support of abolishing or defunding ICE. On June 4, the immigrant rights group Mijente launched a national campaign calling for the abolition of ICE, and progressive groups like DSA and Indivisible have been organizing online using the hashtag #AbolishICE.
“The speed at which Abolish ICE has moved from slogan to legislation is telling,” said Sean McElwee, a leading proponent of Abolishing ICE and the co-founder of the progressive data group Data for Progress. “Every Democrat who wants to be President must articulate to the progressive base a vision of a world without ICE.
Pocan is among the first sitting members of Congress to endorse the idea along with Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Sen. Kamala Harris, who previously defended ICE’s existence, said on Sunday that ICE needs to change and that perhaps lawmakers should “start from scratch.”
Pocan says his decision to sponsor legislation to that effect was motivated in part by a recent trip to the southern border.
“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,” said Pocan.
“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,” his statement continued. “Unfortunately, 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.”