Political movements can often be charted by following whether or not something that starts out as a catch phrase — like “free tuition for all” — actually gains enough traction to become a campaign slogan of one or more candidates seeking the elected office.
Cries to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have gone from the realm of a slogan chanted by open border extremists to becoming part of the platform for several leading Democratic presidential contenders. California Sen. Kamala Harris has said that we need to think about “starting from scratch.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said we need to replace ICE with something that “reflects our values,” and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has branded ICE as a “deportation force.”
Clearly most federal agencies could stand some room for improvement, but the biggest problem about the push to “abolish ICE” is that it doesn’t seem that most of its proponents have a clear idea of what exactly it is that ICE does. So they are, in effect, calling for the complete dismantling of a major federal agency without any regard for the inevitable consequences should their demands be heeded. The fact is that abolishing ICE would have a disastrous impact on public safety and public health while increasing human misery, particularly among the nation’s illegal immigrant population.
Consider some of the most serious consequences of abolishing ICE.
Dangerous, deportable criminal aliens who should be removed from our communities would remain on the streets instead. Of the more than 256,000 criminal aliens that were removed from the U.S. in 2018, 57 percent of them were convicted criminals, nearly 6,000 of them were known or suspected gang members, and 42 of them were known or suspected terrorists. And on a larger scale, there would be more than one million criminal aliens still residing in the U.S. had ICE not been in place to find and deport them between 2010 and 2015.
Harmful drugs would continue to circulate and be distributed throughout the nation, leaving an even larger footprint of human carnage than has already taken place. In FY 2018, ICE seized more than 2,737 lbs. of notoriously deadly fentanyl, more than 7,000 lbs. of heroin, and nearly 10,000 lbs. of opioids, a major scourge of this nation. And for those who claim that we need to focus more on the ports of entry and less on the border, it should be noted that just last month, ICE seized 3,200 lbs., or nearly $77 million worth of cocaine at a New Jersey port of entry. This was the largest cocaine bust in 25 years.
Human trafficking, which is a major scourge in this nation, responsible for unbelievable human misery by innocent victims from across the globe, would go largely unchecked. In FY 2016, ICE initiated 1,029 investigations related to human trafficking, resulting in 435 victims being identified and assisted. Additionally, nearly 2,000 arrests were made, resulting in 631 convictions. And just this past Super Bowl, ICE made 40 arrests during an anti-trafficking operation in the Atlanta area alone. As unbelievable as this might seem, the fact remains that modern day slavery and child sexual exploitation is alive and well in America. In fact, it’s big business, and is clearly more than local law enforcement can handle.
It might make a wonderful bumper sticker, but if you consider the scope of ICE’s duties, from protecting America from cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety, it’s abundantly clear that the agencies importance goes well beyond the borders.
Without the men and women of ICE, everyone who made it past the green line of defense — our nation’s Border Patrol — would be home free once they reached the interior of the nation. What ICE has demonstrated through its web of national enforcement against criminal aliens, drugs, and human trafficking/slavery, is that when it comes to immigration enforcement, every state is a border state.
Dave Ray is director of communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a nonprofit group advocating for legal immigration.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.