Bernie Sanders Doubles Down: ICE Should Only Be Restructured

FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2017, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., attends a House and Senate conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats say they’re shifting to offense on health care, emboldened by successes in defending the Affordable Care Act. They say their ultimate goal is a government …
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) responded Tuesday to far-left critics of his position on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), resisting calls to abolish the agency and reaffirming his belief that it should only be reformed as part of a larger immigration reform package.

“In 2002 I voted against the creation of DHS and the establishment of ICE,” Sanders began in a series of Twitter posts. “That was the right vote. Now, it is time to do what Americans overwhelmingly want: abolish the cruel, dysfunctional immigration system we have today and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Stopping short of joining New York Democrats — including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — Sanders called for ICE to undergo a “restructuring,” as part of comprehensive immigration reform.

“That will mean restructuring the agencies that enforce our immigration laws, including ICE,” he continued. “We must not be about tearing small children away from their families. We must not be about deporting DREAMers, young people who have lived in this country virtually their entire lives.”

The failed 2016 candidate then lamented how millions of illegal aliens in the United States reside in “fear and anxiety” under the current status quo.

“We must not be about forcing over 10 million undocumented people, many of whom have been here for decades, to continue living in fear and anxiety,” Sanders added. “Congress must do what the American people want. Let us create a humane and rational immigration system.”

Sanders’ remarks on immigration follow a scathing editorial published in the far-left New Republic, accusing the socialist lawmaker of “undermining his position as the nation’s most prominent left-wing politician,” by refusing to support the abolishment of ICE.

Author Sarah Jones writes:

Sanders could be a source of consistent, left-wing pressure on party leadership, whether or not he runs in 2020. If he intends to build a lasting political movement out of the remnants of his last presidential campaign, he’ll need to become an effective counterweight to the mainstream Democratic Party. But based on his ICE comments and the uneven results of his campaign efforts, Sanders no longer seems like such a sure figurehead for disgruntled Democratic voters.

The outcry over Sanders’ refusal to call for ICE’s demise stems from an interview the senator did with CNN’s Jake Tapper over the weekend in which he called for the agency to be reformed — not abolished.

“I think that what we need is to create policies which deal with immigration in a rational way,” Sanders told Tapper when asked if he believes the agency should be abolished. “And a rational way is not locking children up in detention centers or separating them from their mothers. What we need is Trump to sit down with members of Congress and work on a rational program which deals with this serious issue.”

President Donald Trump criticized Democrat lawmakers on Tuesday for showing a lack of appreciation for the work undertaken by ICE agents.

“When we have an ‘infestation’ of MS-13 GANGS in certain parts of our country, who do we send to get them out? ICE!” the President began. “They are tougher and smarter than these rough criminal elelments [sic] that bad immigration laws allow into our country. Dems do not appreciate the great job they do! Nov.”

“How can the Democrats, who are weak on the Border and weak on Crime, do well in November,” he continued. “The people of our Country want and demand Safety and Security, while the Democrats are more interested in ripping apart and demeaning (and not properly funding) our great Law Enforcement!”

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