Arizona governor Doug Ducey (R.) rebuked the "Abolish ICE" policy being floated by the hard left and Democrats in safe seats, saying in a USA Today editorial that the policy, which is becoming a campaign issue for the incumbent, is "reckless, and puts the people of my state and others in direct threat."
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has earned the left's ire in response to a recent crackdown by the Trump administration that resulted in the separation of some families of immigrants crossing the southern border illegally. Although direct policing of U.S. land borders falls under the purview of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), ICE does assist with some deportations.
"This isn't a political debate—it's real life," Ducey wrote to a nationwide audience. "The impact of illegal drug cartels, human trafficking, and child sex trafficking on communities and families is real and raw. In border communities like this, law enforcement isn't the enemy—they are a lifeline. Sheriffs and police chiefs are crying for help, and unfortunately they are too often ignored by Congress and much of Washington, D.C."
The White House twitter account gave the op-ed more national prominence, sending out a link hours after it began to circulate.
Ducey's words draw what may be one of the sharpest contrasts in this year's governor's race. The presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination to challenge Ducey is David Garcia, who offered qualified support for the abolish ICE movement in a tweet last Friday.
"Trump's immoral actions—which Ducey has enabled—demand that we rebuild our immigration system top-to-bottom and start by replacing ICE with an immigration system that reflects our American values, values I and so many others served to defend," Garcia tweeted.
The Garcia campaign did not respond to a request for comment asking for more policy specifics on the idea of replacing ICE.
"I believe we need to protect families who need help, and ICE isn't doing that," Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (N.Y., D.) tweeted. "It has become a deportation force. We need to separate immigration issues from criminal justice. We need to abolish ICE, start over and build something that actually works."
The Arizona Republic quickly picked up on the developing wedge issue, as a columnist with that paper said the new topic was "a gift" to Ducey.
"There's a reason the Democrats' leading light in Arizona—and the party's best hope of snagging a Senate seat in three decades—is [U.S. Representative] Kyrsten Sinema. She's not exactly a torchbearer for the progressive wing of the party," the editorial said.
"In signing on to the Abolish Ice movement, Garcia is proclaiming himself to be what Sinema once was but long ago realized was a political death sentence in Arizona: a liberal."
Sinema, who is running for Senate, recently said she believed the agency needed reform, but abolishing the agency "isn't realistic and doesn't make any sense."
A new poll from Gravis Marketing showed a narrow 42-41 percent lead for Garcia in a head-to-head matchup with Ducey, but Ducey is well within the 3.2 percent margin of error. Primary voting will conclude on Aug. 28.