AP Poll Says Most Democrats Don’t Want to Abolish ICE

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A new poll has found that calls to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a losing issue For Democrats this election year. The poll found that just one-fourth of Democrats surveyed support eliminating the much-aligned agency. ICE got massive amounts of unfavorable publicity after enforcing the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of arresting undocumented adults crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and then separating immigrant children from their parents.

The poll was released Monday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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Even though they are not in favor of completely doing away with ICE, 57 percent of the Democrats participating in the poll said that they have a negative view of the immigration agency. Approximately three out of four respondents describe themselves as liberal.

These findings from the AP show that there is still significant tension among Democrats concerning how best to address the crisis at the Mexican border. Many issues that underlie the immigration debate in this country became much intensified in June when the Trump administration instituted its family separation policy. The policy supposedly was intended to deter illegal immigration but what it actually did was impose cruel and unusual punishment upon families from Central America who were legally seeking asylum in the United States.

The “zero tolerance” policy and the resulting separation of children from their families caused a global outcry against Donald Trump, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a potential Democratic presidential contender in 2020, supported abolishing ICE in response to the family separations. Others, such as Senator Kamala Harris of California, said they wanted to “rethink” the agency and change its structure and function, but did not call for its complete abolition.

President Donald Trump immediately latched onto the Democratic criticism of ICE to claim the Democratic Party was weak on immigration and national security. Such attacks have won him political points in the past as immigration has been one of the key issues that propelled him to the presidency.

Although the Trump administration reversed its “zero tolerance” and separation policy after the international outcry, hundreds of children remain separated from their families at this time.

According to the survey, opinions about ICE are divided along party lines. A majority of Democrats view the agency negatively, but Republicans have favorable views of ICE.