Rep. Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.) on Tuesday could explain exactly what he wanted to do with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which many of his Democratic colleagues have said should be abolished.
Grijalva started out by agreeing with others in Congress, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), that ICE should be abolished. However, he seemed to equivocate on what "abolish" means, giving a variety of answers.
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"Do you think ICE should be abolished?" CNN host Kate Bolduan asked.
"Yeah. I think we reached the point," Grijalva replied. "‘Abolish’ is, you know, the nomenclature we're dealing with now, but certainly, as [Democratic Rep. Mark] Pocan's bill asks for, they ask a commission to study, audit, look at mission, and look at how we restructure ICE."
Grijalva was contradicting Pocan, since the Wisconsin congressman's bill is not to "study" or "audit" ICE but to abolish it, and he made this clear in a USA Today op-ed published mere hours before. Bolduan pressed Grijalva on the matter.
"Isn't ‘abolish’ and ‘audit’ quite different?" she asked.
"Yeah, they are quite different, but at the end of the day, the process is going to, I think, have to involve a restructuring of what ICE—they have everything from detention to internal and border enforcement, and this administration is asking for additional $2.9 billion for detention for profit prisons," he answered, going on about a number of things before Bolduan again brought the question back to whether he wants to actually abolish ICE.
Bolduan read a quote from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus saying that Trump’s immigration policies are the problem rather than ICE, and she asked if they were "being too soft." Grijalva said he did not disagree.
"No, I don't disagree with that," he answered about the caucus statement.
"I’m confused," Bolduan replied. "I feel like you're saying two different things at the same time."
Grijalva went on about the possibility of a "different configuration" for ICE and then said, "if the word abolishment is appropriate, then it's appropriate." Bolduan asked if he knew what "abolish" meant.
"‘Abolish’ means wipe it out and not have it back," Bolduan said. "That's what that means."
"There is no abandonment of law enforcement," he answered, going on about how ICE’s duties could be accomplished in other ways. He said he hopes it does not turn into a failed "repeal and replace" battle.
"Trump looks like he is very happy to have this conversation," Bolduan said. "Are you playing into his hands?"
"Yeah I think that's a concern that I talked to with my colleagues," he answered. "We're providing him with additional ammunition. Quite frankly, the rhetoric around immigration, the rhetoric about increasing enforcement, the rhetoric about the bigotry that comes with this issue as well, it's not going to go away."
He said the solution is having "everything on the table" going into the midterm elections.
Gillibrand, Warren, and Pocan are not the only prominent Democrats calling for ICE to be abolished. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congressional candidate in New York's 14th District, helped bring the question to the fore when she upset Democratic leader Rep. Joe Crowley (D., N.Y.) while running on a platform to abolish ICE.