This Georgia Dem Wants To Abolish ICE and 'Shut Down' Illegal Immigrant Detention Centers

Bee Nguyen called immigration enforcement agency 'rogue,' 'cruel'

Georgia state representative Bee Nguyen (D.) gives remarks at “The Asian Justice Rally – Break the Silence” event at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot on March 16, 2022, in Atlanta, Ga. / Getty Images
July 5, 2022

A Georgia Democratic nominee repeatedly called to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and argued that carrying out the country's immigration laws is rooted in "white supremacy" and "xenophobia."

Bee Nguyen, Georgia Democrats' nominee for secretary of state, has a long history of anti-ICE rhetoric. From September to October 2020, Nguyen called to abolish ICE on five separate occasions—in one instance, the Democrat called to "shutdown the detention centers," where illegal immigrants—many of whom have a criminal record—are housed ahead of removal proceedings. In another, Nguyen called ICE "rogue" and "cruel" and contended that illegal immigrant enforcement is conducted "in the name of power, white supremacy, money, xenophobia, and political pandering." Roughly 30 percent of ICE agents are Latino.

Nguyen's calls to abolish ICE continued into January 2021, when President Joe Biden took office. The United States went on to experience a surge in illegal immigrant encounters. In 2021, for example, the country hit a record-high 1.73 million illegal immigrant apprehensions. That number is on pace to exceed 2 million this year.

Nguyen's anti-ICE activism could prompt political peril as voters sour on Democrats' immigration policies, which critics say have emboldened cartel-connected smugglers. On Tuesday, police arrested two illegal immigrants over their alleged role in the deaths of more than 50 migrants in San Antonio, which marked the worst migrant death incident ever recorded in the United States. Those Mexican nationals never left the country after their travel visa expired and possessed an assault-style rifle, multiple handguns, and a shotgun.

According to a July 2021 Federation for American Immigration Reform poll, 61 percent of Georgia voters hold the Biden administration responsible for the ongoing "border crisis," while 54 percent say that mass amnesty proposals pushed by Democrats would "encourage more people to enter the country illegally and make an already difficult situation worse." Roughly 50 percent of respondents, meanwhile, said they would be less likely to vote for Georgia's Democratic senators should they support mass amnesty.

Nguyen's campaign did not return a request for comment.

In addition to Nguyen's abolish ICE push, the Democrat vocally opposed the 287 (g) program, which enables state and local law enforcement to assist federal immigration authorities. Atlanta's Gwinnett County participated in the program for years but ended its involvement after Democrats won the county's sheriff race. The program has allowed local law enforcement to take violent criminals off the streets—in 2020, for example, the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office encountered a Guatemalan national charged with felony murder and a Mexican national charged with rape and aggravated child molestation, according to ICE reports.

Nguyen's statewide run in Georgia comes roughly five years after the Democrat joined the state legislature, replacing Stacey Abrams, who resigned in favor of a failed gubernatorial campaign. Nguyen won a primary runoff by 54 points in late June and will face Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger in November. Her candidacy is backed by both Abrams and Rep. Hank Johnson (D., Ga.), who has compared Jewish settlers to termites and expressed concern that stationing thousands of Marines on the island of Guam would cause it to "tip over and capsize."