WASHINGTON ― Reliable Donald Trump defender Paul Ryan slammed the “Abolish ICE” movement Thursday, calling the liberal effort to get rid of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency “the craziest position” he’d ever seen.
“They have really jumped the sharks on the left,” the Speaker of the House said Thursday during his weekly press conference. He called the immigration law enforcement agency that the Bush administration created in 2003 an agency that “gets gangs out of our communities, that helps prevent drugs from flowing into our schools, that rescues people from human trafficking.”
“They want to get rid of this agency?” Ryan added. “It’s the craziest position I’ve ever seen.”
As Vox explained in their history of the “Abolish ICE” movement, ICE is tasked with “identifying, detaining, and deporting people in the U.S. who have violated immigration law.” The agency took over interior enforcement of U.S. immigration law after Sept. 11 from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, and ICE has drawn criticism (particularly from the left) for aggressive immigration raids. Critics of the agency highlight that raids have broken up families and have purposely been indiscriminate in detaining undocumented immigrants, rather than focusing on just those who commit crimes.
But outside of a few Democratic politicians who have adopted the call to abolish ICE as an actual policy platform ― including Ryan’s Wisconsin colleague Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and high-profile Democratic House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York ― the Abolish ICE movement is still mostly a Twitter hashtag. Online activist Sean McElwee, who is also a HuffPost contributor, has spearheaded the movement. And though McElwee genuinely seems to want to eliminate the $6 billion agency, he also acknowledges that his far-left position is also about moving the Overton window.
To that point, Ryan took the question about abolishing ICE as proof that Democrats are “tripping over themselves to move too far to the left.”
“They’re out of the mainstream of America,” Ryan said. “And that’s one of the reasons I feel very good about this fall.”
Despite growing calls on the left to go after ICE ― and Ryan’s confidence ― the Cook Political Report currently predicts that Democrats are slight favorites to take back control of the House by winning at least 23 seats.
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