NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In the dramatic debate over immigration it’s the controversial comment from Cynthia Nixon grabbing negative attention from the people she wants to represent.

“If she’s running for governor she shouldn’t be doing that,” said one New Yorker. “She should use her words wisely.”

“[She] ideally should have used a better word,” said another city resident.

These New Yorkers are referring to the Democrat calling ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, a “terrorist organization.”

“Terrorists?” asked another New Yorker. “They’re not going around killing people, they’re following the law.”

ICE was formed in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security. It’s the agency charged with securing the borders at a time when about 1,800 migrant children remain separated from parents who tried to come to the country illegally.

“I wouldn’t say they’re terrorists, but do I agree with separating parents and children at the border?” asked a city resident. “No, I don’t.”

An ICE spokeswoman told CBS2 from January to March in the five boroughs, Long Island and the Hudson Valley, agents have made 787 arrests. Of those, 509 were already convicted criminals.

“I think we need to abolish ICE, it seems really clear,” said Nixon on an afternoon talk show.

“In campaigns reality often does not enter into the equation,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a political consultant.

He calls it a major overstatement by the former “Sex and The City” star.

“Like all first-time candidates, she figures if you exaggerate the incident people will respond,” said Sheinkopf. “People are angry enough against ICE but the governor has been in front of the argument for some time. ”

Some say the word reflects a passionate cry to fix the ongoing immigration crisis.

“As someone trying to represent a population of people, I think it might be validated,” said cultural anthropologist Blake Burrell.

But while the Republican running for governor, Marcus Molinaro, doesn’t agree with separating children from their families, he calls Nixon’s language completely irresponsible.

“And it does raise the level of risk for them and law enforcement all across the country,” said Molinaro. “Cynthia Nixon needs to apologize for it.”

CBS2 contacted Nixon’s office to ask if this was a heat of the moment thought or if she really believes ICE agents are terrorists. A spokeswoman said Nixon does believe ICE terrorizes families.

In the past, Governor Andrew Cuomo has accused ICE of making illegal arrests and using aggressive tactics, but was quiet on the issue today, not returning our request for a comment.


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