U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has co-sponsored a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today calling to reevaluate and eventually disband U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act would create a commission to review ICE functions and work toward transferring organized crime and drug and human trafficking investigations to other federal law enforcement agencies. ICE would be dissolved within one year.
The bill would also require Congress to come up with a replacement to handle immigration enforcement in a different way than ICE does now.
"We should be prioritizing the protection of families and our borders in a humane and thoughtful way," Blumenauer said in a statement. "People should be treated with compassion and respect. ICE is simply not doing that. Trump and his administration have made the agency so toxic that it's time to abolish ICE, and start over."
The movement to jettison the federal immigration agency gained traction with some congressional Democrats after the Trump administration began separating children from their parents under a "zero-tolerance" policy that criminally prosecutes anyone who crosses the border into the U.S. illegally.
The Department of Homeland Security director Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on July 12 that all of the eligible children under 5 taken from their parents had been reunited as required by a court order. Fifty-seven kids were returned to their parents, but 46 could not be reunited.
DHS and the Justice Department say some of the parents had serious criminal charges or convictions, some of the adults were deemed to not be parents, and some of the parents had already been deported. At least one parent has not yet been located by the federal government.
"Our message has been clear all along: Do not risk your own life or the life of your child by attempting to enter the United States illegally," Nielsen and Sessions said in a joint statement. "Apply lawfully and wait your turn."
The bill to abolish ICE criticizes the agency for moving away from its stated mission to "prevent acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities'' and focusing instead on deportation efforts.
Blumenauer voted against the formation of ICE and the Department of Homeland Security in 2002.