A bill that would eliminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement is backfiring politically on Democrats — so much so that the authors of the bill now say they won't vote for it if it goes to the House floor, Fox News reported.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he plans to bring the bill up for a vote, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said it's time for Democrats to show where they stand.
“Democrats have been trying to make July 4th about abolishing ICE, which is a radical, extreme position that would lead to open borders and undermine America's national security,” Scalise told The Hill. “I think it's the wrong approach. I think everyone ought to be on record about where they stand on that issue.”
Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) introduced the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act on Thursday, which would "establish a Commission tasked with establishing a humane immigration enforcement system" and "terminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement," among other purposes.
"We know Speaker [Paul] Ryan is not serious about passing our 'Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act,' so members of Congress, advocacy groups, and impacted communities will not engage in this political stunt," the representatives told The Hill. "If Speaker Ryan puts our bill on the floor, we plan to vote no and will instead use the opportunity to force an urgently needed and long-overdue conversation on the House floor."
Too extreme a stance?
By bringing the bill to a vote, House Republicans would be putting Democrats in the potentially uncomfortable position of taking a definitive stance on ICE, which has become an increasingly polarizing issue among voters.
A vote to abolish the agency altogether could alienate voters by being too extreme, while a vote against abolishing the agency could be interpreted by voters as an endorsement of the more controversial policies the agency carries out.
That's why some party leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) say the agency needs reform but will not go as far as to call for its total elimination.
"No American likes the separation of children and that’s an awful thing and that’s got to be stopped, but ICE does do some things that are very important,” Schumer said at a press conference in Buffalo earlier this month.
Pocan's pivot to not voting for his own bill looks particularly bad in light of his strong comments against ICE, an agency he said was being used by President Donald Trump as a "mass-deportation force to rip apart the moral fabric of our nation."
It will be difficult for House Democrats to convince voters the issue of abolishing ICE is more than political grandstanding if they vote against and kill their own bill, essentially putting midterm election political strategy over a cause that has steadily gained momentum within the party.
(H/T: The Hill)