President Trump is predicting that Democrats will be “beaten so badly” if they campaign on the policy of abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- just as the once-fringe call to scrap the agency is going mainstream among the left.
In an interview to be aired Sunday with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures,” Trump was asked what he thinks about more Democrats lining up to call for the agency’s abolition.
“Well I hope they keep thinking about it. Because they’re going to get beaten so badly,” he said. “You know ICE, these are the guys that go in and take MS-13, and they take them out. Because they’re much tougher than MS-13, like by a factor of 10. And these are the ones – you get rid of ICE you’re going to have a country that you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house.”
“I love that issue if they're going to actually do that,” he added.
Calls to “abolish ICE,” once limited to the far-left parts of the Democratic Party base, have shifted into the mainstream mostly in response to the Trump administration’s tough policies on illegal immigration -- particularly the “zero tolerance” policy on detaining all illegal border crossers.
In New York, far-left primary challenger and ICE opponent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's shocked the party’s establishment by beating Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y. In the days after, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Mayor Bill de Blasio have added their support to the cause.
"I believe that [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] has become a deportation force … and that's why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works," Gillibrand said in a CNN interview Thursday night.
“We should abolish ICE,” de Blasio said Friday morning on WNYC radio. His Democratic colleague in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is also facing pressure to back such calls after primary challenger Cynthia Nixon has called ICE a "terrorist organization."
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif has said that the U.S. should consider “starting from scratch” while Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., announced on Monday that he would be introducing a bill to abolish the agency.
But, while it was unlikely to gain much traction on the right, Trump also tweeted on Saturday that he was backing ICE agents and that there was “zero chance” of ICE being abolished.
“To the great and brave men and women of ICE, do not worry or lose your spirit. You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements,” he said. “So brave! The radical left Dems want you out. Next it will be all police. Zero chance, It will never happen!”
Trump is joining a number of Republicans and immigration hardliners who are welcoming the Democratic shift on the issue, believing that it spells electoral victory for the GOP outside of Democratic enclaves like New York and California.
"Based on the last week, Democrats apparently want to campaign on open borders, mass migration, & abolishing ICE," Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., tweeted this week. "Give them points for honesty. Let's vote."