Waters Dismisses Abolishing ICE: People With That Stance 'Didn't Really Think It Through'

Rep. Maxine Waters
Rep. Maxine Waters / Getty Images
July 25, 2018

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) said Wednesday she does not support abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

At CNBC's Capital Exchange Breakfast, Waters corrected the network's Washington correspondent John Harwood about her position on the matter. Several prominent Democrats have prioritized abolishing ICE, such as New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, but Waters said that position is not well thought out.

Harwood said to Waters, "You are one of the Democrats who have talked about abolishing ICE, and some–Democrats have said, this is hurting us politically, that this is something that will be attacked by the other side, that it will hurt our chances of winning the House back. What do you say to that?"

She responded by saying that "I've never said a word about ICE," and that Harwood had made a mistake.

"That's what people think," she said, "that Maxine Waters was talking about ICE. You can never find a word I've said about ICE."

"You are not in favor of abolishing ICE?" Harwood asked.

"No," Waters said, adding that people who took the "abolish ICE" position did not think it through.

"We need to have, you know, an agency or a group that's responsible for what taking care of what goes on at the border and our immigration policy," she said.

"They didn't really think it through and talk about it in a way that made good sense to people, so no I've never said a word about abolishing ICE," Waters continued.

Instead, she said, she would focus on the issue of the separation of child migrants from their families.

During that event, Waters also pushed back against other progressive elements of the Democratic Party.

"Of course I am," Waters responded when asked if she is a capitalist, "And I just don't think that our party should be identified because we have a few people who seem to be to the left of the left."

She downplayed Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I., Vt.) self-proclaimed socialism, since she described him as "basically a Democrat who is focused on Wall Street."