Republican senators called Thursday for the Senate to approve a resolution putting the chamber on record in support of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying the government’s top deportation agency does critical work in keeping the country safe.
Led by Sen. John Kennedy, the resolution counters the call from a growing number of Democrats to abolish ICE over anger at the agency’s role in detaining and deporting illegal immigrants.
“Abolishing ICE is unthinkable,” said Mr. Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican. “ICE officers are in the trenches fighting those threats and protecting American families from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that endanger our families. ICE deserves our gratitude and respect, not scorn and ridicule.”
Joining him in sponsoring the resolution are 20 other Republicans.
ICE has a broad portfolio that runs from policing counterfeit merchandise to tracking online child predators to combatting illegal gangs.
But it’s their role in detaining and deporting illegal immigrants that’s drawn the ire of congressional Democrats, who have urged the agency to give lower priority to federal laws against illegal immigration and instead focus on other crimes or policing matters.
Several House Democrats announced a bill Thursday that would abolish ICE within a year.
That bill did not say what would happen to all of the other important functions ICE does beyond deportations. Those decisions would be left to a commission comprised of congressional appointees and immigrant-rights activists.