Why you should care
Because things can always get better … but they can also get worse.
This is an OZY Special Briefing, an extension of the Presidential Daily Brief. The Special Briefing tells you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.
WHAT TO KNOW
What happened? A year ago most Americans couldn’t have told ICE from Customs and Border Protection — ICE, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is an interior force, while CBP operates at and near U.S. borders — but today the immigration agents have become the face of President Donald Trump’s often controversial immigration policy. Accordingly, a growing number of Democratic politicians, including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have called for the group to be abolished.
Why does it matter? Getting rid of ICE is one thing, but fewer people have opinions on what might replace it. Warren suggested creating another agency that “reflects our morality,” while Democrats in Congress introduced a bill to abolish the agency that only specified the need to create a bipartisan group to replace it. Meanwhile, 19 ICE agents wrote to the Department of Homeland Security last month asking that the agency be restructured, which would have split the immigration-related operations from its homeland security–related duties.
HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT
“Reform ICE” is no rallying cry. While hundreds of protests have been held across the U.S., including a five-week Portland, Oregon, occupation of the local ICE headquarters, support for abolition of ICE is far from mainstream. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer have called for reform, while California Rep. Maxine Waters, often an adversary of President Trump’s, sidestepped the debate altogether. made clear: “I’ve never said a word about ICE.” Even the original Democratic co-sponsors of the House bill to abolish ICE said they would vote no if it were brought to the floor by Republicans.
Furthermore, is it even possible? ICE was created by Congress, so Congress would have to be tasked with abolishing it, should the idea gain enough traction. The body could also delegate the task to the executive branch, but President Trump has consistently supported ICE — he’s accused “the liberal left” as a whole of wanting to abolish it — and would be unlikely to do so. Meanwhile, the House bill introduced to abolish ICE didn’t give a concrete alternative, instead proposing a yearlong bipartisan commission that would determine which of ICE’s duties are indispensable and which other agencies could take them on. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, explained that ICE’s brand has become so toxic that it could impede agents from doing their jobs. “If ICE on a jacket right now is what no longer allows you to get information you need because people are afraid of what that means,” he said, “then you have to dismantle that part of what ICE is.”
Prime directive. ICE was created to fight terrorism — as in, keeping dangerous individuals out and targeting their supply stream — in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Since its establishment in 2003, the agency’s annual budget has skyrocketed to $7 billion this year, with a staff of 20,000. Meanwhile, its mission has shifted alongside the government’s increasingly combative stance against immigration and the alleged danger immigrants themselves pose. In 2017, the agency made 37,734 noncriminal arrests, about double the number in 2016 — and while ICE wasn’t responsible for President Trump’s controversial family separation policy at the border, the agency has been criticized for its treatment of families in detention and its lackluster record on reuniting immigrant parents with their children.
WHAT TO READ
OK, Abolish ICE. What Then? by Matt Ford at The New Republic
“Which of the agency’s responsibilities — which extend well beyond immigration enforcement — should be eliminated entirely, and which should be preserved? And where should the latter go?”
Democrats Are Campaigning in Poetry Again by Matthew Yglesias at Vox
“Democrats are following in Trump’s footsteps by prioritizing emotionally resonant constructs over detailed, practical agendas for action. Other popular progressive rallying cries of the moment, from ‘Medicare-for-all’ to ‘free college’ to ‘guaranteed jobs,’ are incredibly ambiguous as policies.”
WHAT TO WATCH
“I wanted to join the regular police, but they told me they wouldn’t take someone who was already under arrest.”
Watch on The Break With Michelle Wolf on YouTube:
And check out OZY’s interview about the video with Michelle Wolf here.
Could U.S. Migrant Detention Force Be Broken Up?
“Most protest movements do start with extreme positions that can turn into policies.”
Watch on the BBC on Youtube:
WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATERCOOLER
A rallying cry for whom? Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a surprise win in her New York primary with “Abolish ICE” as one campaign position. But it might not be a benign or positive stance for Democrats in November, outside a small progressive base. With only 25 percent of polled Americans in favor of the idea, the “Abolish ICE” slogan may be a gift to Republicans. Though with support for President Trump’s border wall hovering below 40 percent, “Build the Wall” may not be such a good bet either.