by Will Racke
New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon took her proposal to ban Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the state’s schools a step further on Wednesday, calling instead for the complete dismantlement of the agency.
“I think ICE should be abolished,” the former “Sex and the City” actress said at an event in Brooklyn, according to the New York Daily News.
“We’re at a point where women and children and people who are seeking asylum, people with absolutely no criminal record, are being deported,” she added.
Nixon is challenging incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York’s Democratic primary election on Sept. 13. She has positioned herself as the progressive alternative to the two-term Cuomo, attacking him from the left on a range of issues from education to health care and immigration.
Nixon’s strategy includes distancing herself from Cuomo’s approach to federal immigration enforcement. Though he has denounced President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda — most recently by suing the federal government over family separations at the border — Cuomo has stopped short of saying ICE should be eliminated.
Nixon, on the other hand, has made criticism of the agency a central part of her campaign. When she released her education platform on June 13, she vowed to prevent ICE officers from stepping foot in New York’s public schools. The agency has drawn criticism from activists for arresting illegal immigrants as they dropped off their kids at school in New Jersey and other states.
“We will end suspensions for children in grades Pre-K to 3, dramatically reduce suspensions for all students, and work to eliminate school-based arrests,” Nixon wrote in a series of tweets announcing her #SchoolsNotJails education budget. “Neither will we will allow ICE into our schools to deport our students or their families.”
With her remarks on Wednesday, Nixon added her voice to a growing chorus of Democratic candidates and immigration activists calling for abolishing ICE. At least 21 candidates who are or were running for national office in 2018 have said ICE should be shut down, but no sitting member of Congress has endorsed the policy, Mic reported.
“We did fine without them for many years before,” Nixon said of the agency. “We don’t need them. They’re becoming such a destructive force in our country that we must eradicate them.”
Such calls have become louder in recent months in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” approach to illegal border crossings, which has caused a spike in the number of migrant families being separated while the adults are prosecuted for unlawful entry.
Trump signed an executive order Wednesday directing border authorities to keep migrant families in detention together during their asylum proceedings. It remains to be seen how the order will be interpreted in light of the Flores consent decree, a federal court settlement that prevents the government from detaining migrant families together for more than 20 days.
Trump’s policy change is unlikely to mollify immigration activists and progressive Democrats, who oppose to the detention of illegal immigrant families in nearly all cases.
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