Despite Push From Far Left, Just One Quarter Of Democrats Want To Abolish ICE

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Calls to dismantle the government’s primary immigration enforcement agency have gained traction among some rising political stars on the far left, but the idea remains unpopular with most Democratic voters, according to an Associated Press poll released Monday.

Just 24 percent of poll respondents said they supported abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), while 40 percent opposed the idea and 34 percent had no opinion.

The survey, which included 1,055 adult participants and was taken between Aug. 16 to Aug. 20, revealed a consistent view of abolishing ICE across political affiliations.

“In this instance, there is little difference across partisan lines, with similar minorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans favoring abolishing the agency,” the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research said in a news release.

The “Abolish ICE” movement rose to prominence earlier this summer in response to President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration enforcement agenda, particularly a “zero tolerance” policy against illegal border crossing that led to the separation of thousands of illegal immigrant families.

Although it originated with immigration advocates and other left-wing groups, Abolish ICE entered the political mainstream when it was adopted by several prominent Democratic Party figures. Presidential contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York endorsed eliminating ICE in response to the separations, as did New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and House hopeful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (RELATED: Gillibrand: Democrats Should Immediately Abolish ICE Once They Take Back Congress)

Trump has reveled in Democrats’ calls to dismantle ICE, pointing to them as evidence his opponents are soft on border security and illegal immigration. Earlier in August, he held an event at the White House to honor ICE and Customs and Border Protection officers, further contrasting his immigration enforcement agenda with that of his liberal critics. (RELATED: Arizona Democrats, Republicans Largely Agree In Response To Call To Abolish ICE)

Overall, a plurality of Americans view ICE unfavorably, according to The AP poll. About 37 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of ICE, while 30 percent said they viewed it favorably and 33 percent didn’t know enough about the agency to have an opinion.

That result changed sharply when broken down by political party. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats said they viewed ICE unfavorably, while the exact same percentage of Republicans had the opposite opinion.

The disparty was even wider when voters were asked about Trump’s overall handling of immigration policy. More than three-quarters of Republicans had favorable views of his immigration policies, while about 90 percent of Democrats viewed them unfavorably.

The AP poll has a sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points for all respondents.

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