Democratic Sen, Joe Donnelly (Ind.) said Monday that he does not agree with the progressive push to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"I think that’s a terrible idea," Donnelly said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. "It’s important that we have strong, and safe, and secure borders, and ICE is a part of that."
Donnelly also declined to support the "Medicare for All" proposal popular among the liberal base. "I’m trying to protect what we have now. That’s my focus — is to make sure we can protect pre-existing conditions, protect the Affordable Care Act," he said.
Polls show that only 25 percent of voters support abolishing ICE. But with a plurality of Democrats supporting abolition, Democratic politicians have struggled to find a balance between satisfying their base without alienating independent voters.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) became the first Senate Democrat to endorse the "Abolish ICE" proposal in late June. "I believe that it has become a deportation force and I think you should separate out the criminal justice from the immigration issues and I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency with a very different mission," she said.
It didn't take long for Republicans to pressure red-state Democrats on the issue. "Senator Gillibrand Wants to Abolish ICE. What Say You, Senator Donnelly?" read one such press release from the national party.
Donnelly is expected to face a tough reelection battle in the Hoosier State, which Donald Trump won by nearly 20 points in the 2016 presidential election. The sole poll of the race, conducted by GOP polling firm Gravis in May, showed Donnelley in a statistical dead heat with Republican challenger Mike Braun, a former Indiana state representative.
In the interview with the Examiner, Donnelly stressed both his history of supporting the president and maintaining his independence. "I voted with [Trump] 62 percent of the time," he said. "My job isn’t to be his puppy dog, my job is to be the senator from Indiana."