Accuracy in Media

Three Democratic members of the House of Representatives say they are preparing legislation to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and the mainstream media is cheering them on.

The legislation, being authored by Rep. Mark Pocan (Wisc.) and cosponsored by two members who are immigrants – Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) and Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), would set up a bipartisan commission without White House involvement to devise a replacement and put current ICE officials through a “truth and reconciliation process” that would examine their current policies and behavior.

The bill may not be popular – fewer than 1 in 5 Americans support the Democrats on abolishing the agency – but we can’t wait, according to a piece in Slate.

“As the horrors of the Trump administration become 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,” Slate’s Elliot Hannon wrote in a news item on the proposed legislation.

The Hill attempted to build momentum for the proposal, which the administration has vowed to prevent from becoming law on its watch. The idea has come in from the cold and is now the consensus of one of America’s top two political parties, the story implied.

“Though immigration activists have long rallied around dismantling the agency, the idea gained new ground in recent weeks following a widespread public outcry over President Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy, which led to the separation of thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

What has gained ground in recent months is support for strong enforcement at the border. According to a The Economist/YouGov poll, 58 percent of Americans consider illegal immigration a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem. That includes 88 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents and 37 percent of Democrats.

As to the policy in question here – what to do about families arrested at the border for trying to sneak in to the U.S. illegally – Americans do not want the families divided, but they want, by considerable margins, for ICE to hold them at the border and not repeat the catch-and-release policy enacted under President Obama.

Only 19 percent overall, 30 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of independents supported releasing the families into the U.S. and having them report back later for their asylum cases to be heard.

The overwhelming choice was to hold families together in family detention centers until an immigration hearing at a later date. That option was supported by 44 percent overall, 49 percent of Democrats and nearly 40 percent of independents.

Which makes one wonder what the Washington Post was thinking when it quoted Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress and “originator of the ‘Abolish ICE’ slogan,” saying, “Now that we have a clear consensus that ICE must be abolished, it’s time for a discussion about a humane enforcement system. That means ending the criminalization of migration, creating a fast path to citizenship, limiting the scope of [Customs and Border Protection’s] enforcement and ending our inhumane immigrant detention system. The existence of the legislation proves that within the Democratic Party there is some interest in moving away from pandering to white supremacy.”

The Post does not challenge McElwee’s statement, but it does acknowledge some Democrats have yet to join this bandwagon.

It also didn’t challenge the final quote from Pocan, who says ICE should be shuttered because it is not working as intended. “What is the best way to deal with that problem?” he said. “Our contention right now that they’re not able to go after hardcore MS-13 gang members because they’re focused on the person who just got a speeding ticket.”

ICE has nothing to do with speeding tickets and deportations of gang members climbed 83 percent in 2017 over 2016 levels – the first year Trump’s policies were in effect.

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