During last year's election campaign, calls to defund and abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) were common among left-wing activists and some Democrats. Those calls have died down publicly, but the effort to gut ICE continues, even as the border crisis rages out of control. Many of the far-left activists who pushed abolishing ICE last year are still doing it now behind the scenes.
"Democrats are trying to abolish ICE without getting rid of the initials, and they're doing it in a clever way," says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. "What they're doing is making sure the 'customs' half of (ICE) does their job, but the immigration half---known as Enforcement and Removal Operations---is being starved for money."
Indeed, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee recently approved a plan to slash the budget for ICE enforcement operations, while also slashing funding for ICE detention facilities, and outsourcing those facilities to non-profits. "What they're hoping is they'll kind of dry up the immigration part of ICE without anybody noticing," says Krikorian.
On top of Congress gutting ICE's budget and "remaking" its operations, the White House is also putting restrictions on the agency. "The new administration has explicitly prohibited ICE agents from arresting any illegal immigrants, except a relative handful who are the worst of the worst of the worst," says Krikorian. "Even criminals are very frequently released---drunk driving is no longer considered a rationale for deporting an illegal immigrant."
"It's just appalling," he continues. "People are going to suffer and some people are going to die because of this."