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WASHINGTON — Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday said that Democrats who support the "abolish ICE" movement are taking the “craziest position.”
In remarks to reporters during his weekly news conference, the Wisconsin Republican said that progressives have “really jumped the sharks.”
“You want to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — this is the agency that gets gangs out of our communities, that helps prevent drugs from flowing into our schools, that rescues people from human trafficking. They want to get rid of this agency? It's the craziest position I've ever seen,” he said.
Ryan said that people who support the movement are “out of the mainstream of America.”
His comments came as a group of House Democrats unveiled legislation, the “Establishing a Human Immigration Enforcement System Act,” that would eliminate the agency.
The bill introduced by three Democratic representatives — Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Adriano Espaillat of New York — would call for the creation of a commission that would offer a roadmap to Congress for the provision of a “humane immigration enforcement system,” then terminate ICE one year after the measure is signed into law. The bill is co-sponsored by only six other House Democrats.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Thursday evening that the House will vote before its annual August recess on the Democratic "abolish ICE" bill, to put Democrats on the record. He would not commit to a vote on a bill to address family separation at the border, but said that GOP leaders are continuing to work with the Trump administration on the issue.
Ryan has said for months that he would only put bills on the floor that Trump would sign.
Meanwhile, a group of more than a dozen GOP senators, led by John Kennedy of Louisiana, introduced a resolution denouncing "the radical calls for the dissolution" of ICE.
"I am deeply troubled by the Democrats’ reckless calls to abolish ICE. Eliminating ICE shows a blatant disregard for the welfare of the American people and our nation’s immigration laws,” Kennedy said in a statement.
Despite the contingent of Democrats who support abolishing the agency, many top Democrats have opted not to back the movement and have instead called for reforming the agency.
“Look, ICE does some functions that are very much needed,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York recently said to reporters. “Reform ICE? Yes. That’s what I think we should do. It needs reform.”
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, a possible 2020 presidential contender, told NBC News last week after visiting a facility in Grand Rapids, Mich., that is housing detained immigrants, that eliminating the agency won't make a difference in the end.
“Whatever happens to ICE, Trump is still going to be the president and he’s going to have the power and it’s still going to be his policies,” Ryan said.