Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Abolishing ICE: ‘Get Rid of It, Start Over’

The senator from New York, often mentioned as a possible 2020 presidential contender, signaled support for dumping ICE altogether.


During an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday night, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was asked about a position that is gaining traction among progressive Democrats: abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Cuomo asked the senator if she agreed with the call, citing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who espoused it most recently, and Gillibrand responded: “Well, I agree with it. I don’t think ICE today is working as intended.”

Asked again specifically about "getting rid of the agency," Gillibrand said: "I believe that it has become a deportation force. And I think you should separate out the criminal justice from the immigration issues. And I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency with a very different mission and take those two missions out. So we believe that we should protect families that need our help and that is not what ICE is doing today. And that's why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works."

Her comments came after she participated in a protest at the Capitol about family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. At least 575 people were arrested at the demonstration.

Gillibrand is the first sitting Democratic senator to explicitly voice approval for scrapping the agency, though some of her colleagues have edged closer to that conclusion.

During an interview on Sunday evening, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said: “I think there's no question that we've got to critically reexamine ICE and its role and the way that it is being administered and the work it is doing. And we need to probably think about starting from scratch.”