The results of the latest Harvard-Harris poll over the question of keeping or abolishing ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) portends great difficulty for the Democrats in the upcoming midterms. If the leading lights of the party continue their push to abolish ICE, the results for them in November could be catastrophic.
In its online survey of 1,448 registered voters, the pollsters asked, “Do you think that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, known as ICE, should be disbanded, or not?” Sixty-nine percent of them said no, while 70 percent of them said ICE should instead step up its enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.
The push to abolish ICE by leading Democrats reached a fever pitch following the surprise victory of upstart Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over 10-term New York Democrat Joe Crowley. The 15-point margin of victory gave Democrats the excuse they needed to hype the push to get rid of ICE. Part of Ocasio-Cortez’s platform included a promise to abolish the agency guarding the nation’s borders.
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez anointed her as the “future of our party” on Tuesday during The Bill Press Show, a daily liberal talk-radio program:
I have three kids. Two of them are daughters … and they were both texting me about their excitement over Alexandria because she really — she represents the future of our party.
Like greyhounds chasing a rabbit they can never catch, Democrats apparently are seizing any opportunity to attack the president over his strict enforcement of immigration laws. The past week has been difficult for the party, with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Trump’s travel ban and then deciding that government unions have no right to extract dues from workers who do not wish to support them. The topper was the announcement that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was stepping down, leaving the door wide open for the president to select Gorsuch 2.0, who will formally be announced on Monday.
But like those greyhounds chasing the rabbit, the Democrats are nearly frantic in their efforts to derail the Trump administration. As Patrick Buchanan, writing in The New American, so aptly expressed it: “Democrats, having just gone through the worst week in memory … are in imminent danger of losing it altogether.”
Leading Democrats have picked up the cudgel with which to bash ICE:
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) declared ICE to be "a cruel deportation force [that] we need to abolish”;
Cynthia Nixon, a Democrat candidate for governor of New York, described ICE as “a terrorist organization … terrorizing people who are coming to this country.… We need to abolish ICE”;
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared that “We should abolish ICE”; and
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined the throng: “President Trump seems to think that the only way to have immigration rule is to rip parents from their family … and to put children in cages.”
Mark Pocan, a Democrat representative from Wisconsin, has promised to introduce a bill abolishing the agency. He wrote at CNN:
As I toured the [ICE] facilities detaining immigrant children separated from their parents, it became clear to me that the President has created this rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis….
With the President grossly misusing ICE, and the agency broken beyond repair, I’m proposing legislation to abolish the agency….
[We need] a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals. [A new] commission would then transfer necessary functions that do not violate basic human rights to other agencies.
All of which is just a bit too much for CNN’s Julian Zelizer who warned:
With Democrats attacking ICE, the administration has been given an opening to paint its opponents as extreme, radical and a threat to national security.
Even though we are long overdue for a rigorous debate over our immigration system, a call [by Democrats] to abolish anything makes it sound as if the proponents want the entire system to go away.
Zelizer got it right: Democrats are trying to swim upstream against the current on the issue. If they continue to press their demands, registered voters in November, as the Harvard-Harris poll indicated, are likely not only to reject Democrats carte blanche, but cause such grievous damage to the party that it might not recover.