New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon fired back at Vice President Mike Pence on Friday for slamming her after she called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) a "terrorist organisation."
"Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and the mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio have all already called for ICE's abolition," Pence said while visiting an ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., according to CNN. He added that "a leading candidate for governor of New York" — that would be Nixon, who is cutting into Gov. Andrew Cuomo's lead — "appallingly called this agency a 'terrorist organisation.'"
"The American people have a right to their opinions, but these spurious attacks on ICE by our political leaders must stop," he said to applause.
Judging by the way the Abolish ICE movement has picked up steam, they won't. While the call to abolish ICE is not new, a growing number of progressives are calling for an end to — or at least a serious reexamination of — the agency responsible for arresting and detaining immigrants. Among them is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialist who recently defeated one of the most powerful Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and who has endorsed Nixon (and vice versa). Senators Gillibrand and Warren have joined the cause, as have Representatives Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Nydia Velázquez of New York and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
I can think of no better description than to call ICE a terrorist organization, and I will wear any criticism from Mike Pence as a badge of honor.
In response to Pence, Nixon made it clear that she won't abandon her position. "If Mike Pence is attacking me, we must be doing something right," she said in a statement. "What’s really appalling is how ICE tears children away from their parents," parents who have lived in the U.S. for decades, pay their taxes, and have no criminal record. "I can think of no better description than to call ICE a terrorist organisation, and I will wear any criticism from Mike Pence as a badge of honour."
ICE was created in 2003 (so any notion that we wouldn't have borders or security without it is ludicrous). Until then, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS), created in 1933, handled immigration and border enforcement. Thanks to ICE — and the Trump administration's zealously hard line on immigration — arrests of undocumented immigrants have increased, including those who have lived in the country for decades and have no criminal record. This has created constant fear of jailing and deportation among communities of colour, and Trump's backers only serve to embolden it.
The White House has gone so far as to target Sen. Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris — who has called for a reexamination, not a total abolition, of ICE — using inhumane language in its tweets. "Why are you supporting the animals of MS-13? You must not know what ICE really does," the official White House account tweeted at Harris. Harris replied, citing the administration's family separation policy: "As a career prosecutor, I actually went after gangs and transnational criminal organisations. That's being a leader on public safety. What is not, is ripping babies from their mothers."