CONCORD, New Hampshire — 2020 Democrat Joe Biden dismissed calls from his own party to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, saying any problems with the department can be addressed with a new president.
“We shouldn’t abolish ICE. We should reform the system. ICE is not the problem,” the former vice president told reporters Friday afternoon in Concord, New Hampshire. “The policies behind ICE are the problem, and that’s easy enough to fix if the president knows what he or she is doing.”
Biden responds to Bernie Sanders’ immigration plan:
“We shouldn’t abolish ICE. We should reform the system. ICE is not the problem. The policies behind ICE are the problem, and that’s easy enough to fix if the President knows what he or she is doing.”#nhpolitics #FITN pic.twitter.com/kGFdmuwi1q
— Nicole Sganga (@NicoleSganga) November 8, 2019
Biden’s comments were in response to a question about Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ new immigration plan, which calls for defunding ICE and granting a number of government benefits for illegal immigrants.
Left-wing critics of President Trump’s immigration policies have called for dismantling the agency since February 2017, citing what they see as human rights abuses being committed under its watch.
Prominent elected officials within the Democratic Party, including a number of Biden’s 2020 rivals, have endorsed the “Abolish ICE” movement. In June, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told supporters at a Boston rally, “We need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom by starting with replacing ICE with something that reflects our morality.”
Democratic firebrand and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spent much of her congressional campaign in 2018 around defunding the agency.
In response, Trump has cited Democratic enthusiasm for scrapping ICE in a number of his rallies. The president’s reelection campaign has repeatedly said that it intends to cite the movement as an example of the party’s radical position on immigration.
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