NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Reaction has been heated after New York’s junior U.S. senator led a chorus of Democratic lawmakers calling for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to be abolished.
Campaigning for reelection and eyeing a possible presidential run in 2020, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has raised the flag of progressives seeking to use the issue of ICE as a weapon against President Donald Trump.
Party sources tell CBS2 they’re worried her shift to the left could make could make it more difficult for moderate Democrats up for reelection this year. Gillibrand says she doesn’t see it that way.
“I think there’s a shared moral value that we should not be literally separating children from parents at the border,” she said on Wednesday.
As it turns out, that’s the job of Customs and Border Patrol agents. Others have also been quick to point out ICE has been a potent force of good on Long Island, instrumental in arresting members of the vicious transnational street gang MS-13.
“It’s irresponsible to say ICE should be abolished,” New York Congressman Peter King (R-2nd) said. “That’s just caving in to political pressure, it result in the loss of human life.”
King says in his district alone MS-13 is responsible for the deaths of 25 people in an 18-month span. Gillibrand’s Republican opponent, Chele Farley, calls the incumbent the “ICE Queen,” and it’s not meant as a compliment.
“She was the first senator to come out and say to abolish ICE right after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” Farley said. “I think that is a dangerous precedent. We cannot let the safety of our citizens be at risk.”
Gillibrand agreed going after MS-13 is important, she just thinks either Homeland Security or Border Patrol should do it.
“ICE was set up with a purpose, and that purpose is still needed,” security expert Manny Gomez said. “There are still members of MS-13… that ICE investigates, detains, and ultimately deports.”
The senator insists her focus is running for reelection for senate, not for president. When asked if she would serve a full six-year term, she said that was her intention — giving herself at least a little wiggle room to change her mind.