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The urgent need for an immigration fix

July 12, 2018 11:36 pm

More representatives of the Democratic Party are staking an utterly impractical position.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has joined other lawmakers in calling for the abolishment of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. During an interview on CNN last week, she said the work that this department performs should be reimagined with a new agency created.

Gillibrand said she agreed with a statement by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in New York’s 14th Congressional District, that ICE should be scrapped.

“Well, I agree with it. I don’t think ICE today is working as intended,” Gillibrand said on CNN, according to a June 28 article posted by the Daily Beast. “I believe that it has become a deportation force. And I think you should separate out the criminal justice from the immigration issues. And I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency with a very different mission and take those two missions out. So we believe that we should protect families that need our help, and that is not what ICE is doing today. And that’s why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works.”

And she is not the only Democrat to take this stance. Others include U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. Cynthia Nixon, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for New York governor, referred to ICE as a terrorist organization in her call to do away with the department.

Gillibrand’s comments don’t make much sense. If you remove the missions of immigration and criminal justice from the agency, what function would it serve?

This sentiment has become more commonplace among some Democrats following reports of immigrant children being separated from their parents near the Mexican-U.S. border. The Trump administration imposed a zero tolerance policy to dissuade others from attempting to cross into the United States illegally.

This policy has since been rescinded, and the Trump administration is seeking an exemption from court rulings prohibiting children from being detained for more than 20 days. It’s uncertain if this goal will be accomplished as the Obama administration failed in a similar attempt.

Growing concerns over how federal agents treat immigrants is understandable. But talk of eliminating this key agency is meaningless because that’s never going to happen and there are better alternatives. What’s really needed is for representatives of the legislative and executive branches of the government to reform policies concerning immigration and border protection services.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, about two-thirds of the U.S. population is subject to the authority of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They live within 100 miles of a port of entry — and this includes those of us in Northern New York.

These regulations have been on the books for many years, but enforcement actions were ramped up following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Passed in its aftermath, the USA Patriot Act gave law enforcement agents new powers to snoop on and detain people suspected of terrorist activities.

We need to have an honest and productive conversation about what we want from our immigration policies and how they could best be implemented. Congress has kicked this can down the road for far too long, so legislators need to finally pass some effective laws.

Once this has been done, new regulations in keeping with our legislative goals can be put into place at federal agencies. Let’s pass rules that make sense, not try to reinvent the wheel by abolishing a necessary department.

Courtesy of Johnson News Service