A young man this afternoon perused an encampment outside City Hall with a small gray bag in his hand.
He was aiming to tidy up a new outdoor living space enjoyed by himself and others who are calling for the abolishing of I.C.E, a government agency nowadays known mostly for facilitating deportations, and the dissolving of an agreement wherein arrest data is made available to said agency among others. The former demand is germane to the Trump Administration while the latter is said to be exclusively targeting Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
The Democrat mayor hasn’t given the encampment a timeline on when to disperse. In fact, Mr. Kenney – who on Thursday will be meeting about the PARS agreement with leaders associated with Juntos, an immigrant rights organization based in South Philadelphia – sees himself as on the “same team” with the occupiers.
ICE is a deportation force, asserted the Mayor, who said if he had the power to abolish the $7 billion agency, he would.
Mr. Kenney’s comment aligns him with a growing cohort of Democrats, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who’ve called for ICE to be abolished, a political position which was seemingly thrusted into the mainstream after 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat an incumbent Congressman in a New York City primary. The abolish ICE demand was a central component to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign.
Since her win, the bright-eyed candidate has consistently framed ICE, which was formed in 2003, as part of a flawed suite of legislation that soon followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“ICE was established in 2003, right at the same time as the Patriot Act… the Iraq War. And we look back at a lot of that time and legislation as a mistake now. ICE is right there as part of it. Its extra-judicial nature is baked into the structure of the agency,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s Newsroom.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump earlier this month tweeted that Democrats don’t appreciate the jobs performed by ICE, which include, according to Mr. Trump, hunting down violent gangs who have infested certain parts of the country. The president also tweeted:
“The people of our Country want and demand Safety and Security, while the Democrats are more interested in ripping apart and demeaning (and not properly funding) our great Law Enforcement!”
Last Friday, Vice President Mike Pence addressed a room full of ICE agents and heaped praise upon them. The VP said the “spurious attacks” on ICE by our political leaders must stop. He then pledged that while Mr. Trump is in office, “we will never abolish ICE.”
According to a YouGov poll released last week, fifty-four percent of liberals supported to some degree abolishing ICE—34 percent strongly, 20 percent somewhat, and 24 percent opposed. Newsweek notes that 46 percent of Democrats, who differ from liberals, supported abolishing ICE: 25 percent strongly, 21 percent somewhat, and twenty-seven percent opposed. Only 12 percent of Republicans supported abolishing ICE.
Mr. Pence in his speech last week cited the Washington Post’s “liberal” editorial board, which said:
“The sudden call by some Democrats to abolish ICE — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency whose multi-pronged mission includes deportation — makes a better bumper sticker than a blueprint for policy.”
The newspaper owned by Amazon’s Mr. Jeff Bezos acknowledged that ICE’s 20,000 employees handle, in addition to deportation, cyber-crime, human trafficking, narcotics, counter proliferation involving nuclear materials, other military wares, and child exploitation.
Mr. Kenney’s assessment of ICE differed greatly from that of the paper’s. The mayor said the agency isn’t productive and is increasingly going after people who don’t have criminal records but are undocumented.
“They are ratcheting up the pressure on city’s like Philadelphia and others… trying to create havoc, which is what the Trump Administration does very well,” said the mayor.
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Photo courtesy of the author.