Dem Candidates in 10 Key California Races Run Away From 'Abolish ICE' Campaign

Abolish ICE
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August 8, 2018

Several top Democratic presidential contenders and other prominent liberals' calls to "Abolish ICE" aren't helping Democratic hopefuls in California running in the 10 most competitive House races there.

All 10 of those Democratic candidates have backed away from the liberal rallying cry to dismantle Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with some voicing support for overhauling the agency and others arguing that the campaign itself demonstrates just how far off-course the Democratic Party has veered, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

"You don't have an infection on your toe and cut off your entire foot," Katie Hill, a Democratic nonprofit executive running against Rep. Steve Knight (R., Calif.) in a district in northern Los Angeles County. "It shows the need for more sane politicians who are committed to fighting for what needs to happen, not just rabble-rousing their base."

"ICE is a scapegoat for what the president is doing from the very top of government," said Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Democrat running against Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) in a predominantly Republican seat in northeastern San Diego County. If ICE were dissolved, he said, "Trump could come up with a different acronym for a different agency, and it would still have the same problems."

Liberal groups have been pushing an "Abolish ICE" campaign ever since the beginning of Trump's presidency in response to his tougher enforcement of the nation's immigration laws. The movement has grown over the last few months in response to a flood of news stories about immigrant children being separated from their families because of Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy of prosecuting all immigrants caught crossing the border illegally, as well as other media stories about cases of immigrant abuse—many of which date back to the Obama administration.

The effort gained even more momentum after far-left Democratic candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez embraced the "Abolish ICE" mantra and successfully knocked off longtime Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley. Top contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign quickly voiced support, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D, Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), and Kamala Harris (D., Calif.).

Other top national Democrats, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) have been more cautious. Pelosi has called for "an immediate and fundamental overhaul" of the agency but has stopped short of saying it should be completely disbanded.

After several polls clearly showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose abolishing ICE, Trump predicted that the issue is backfiring on Democrats in key seats they need to win across the country to take back the House, including those in California.

Democratic candidates in California districts that have previously elected Republicans are taking the cue.

Here's what the 10 Democrats running in the most competitive California House races have said about ICE, according to the Mercury News report.

Jessica Morse, CA-04: "National security is too important to be used as a political football. By improving rather than abolishing ICE, I believe we can have strong border security that reflects our American value of respect for human dignity and supports our economy." (running against Rep. Tom McClintock)

Josh Harder, CA-10: "The Trump administration diverted our law enforcement from their job of securing our border in order to rip children from their parents. We should be working to reform ICE, and bringing it back to its mission of protecting our borders, not serving the political whims of politicians in Washington." (running against Rep. Jeff Denham)

TJ Cox, CA-21: "Everyone knows what ICE should be doing: Not targeting hardworking farm workers that are making a living. They should be going after the criminals and the people that really have bad intent." (running against Rep. David Valadao)

Andrew Janz, CA-22: "While dangerous criminals who are here illegally should properly be deported, as a career prosecutor, I know that having ICE officials threatening crime victims and witnesses is making us all less safe." (running against Rep. Devin Nunes)

Katie Hill, CA-25: "If we're focused on the talk about abolishing ICE, then we're missing the point. It's just noise … Where our focus needs to be is getting Democrats in Congress, passing immigration reform, and passing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers." (running against Rep. Steve Knight)

Gil Cisneros, CA-39: "Gil does not support abolishing ICE … He believes Congress must look into and address the multiple stories of ICE detaining legal residents, including some U.S. citizens, and deporting law-abiding immigrants rather than going after criminals and terrorists." — spokesman Nic Jordan (running against Republican candidate Young Kim)

Katie Porter, CA-45: "ICE should be focused on its core public safety mission, not targeting families. The real issue here is the failure of Donald Trump's leadership." (running against Rep. Mimi Walters)

Harley Rouda, CA-48: "The women and men of ICE need to get back to their actual, all-important jobs—protecting our national security and not taking part in a policy that rips children away from their parents at the border." (running against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher)

Mike Levin, CA-49: "No, I do not support abolishing ICE … Our country needs immigration enforcement, but ICE should not be subject to the whims of the executive branch, and should administer our nation's immigration laws in a humane manner." (running against Republican candidate Diane Harkey)

Ammar Campa-Najjar, CA-50: "If we abolish ICE, another iteration of ICE will come up under President Trump that will continue these draconian measures … these actions will continue unless there's restraint on the president himself." (running against Rep. Duncan Hunter)