Vice President Mike Pence vowed on Friday "We will never abolish ICE" and praised the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, an agency which has faced some public backlash in the wake of the administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.
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“Under President Donald Trump, we will never abolish ICE,” Pence said to cheers during remarks at the agency’s headquarters.
Pence said abolishing ICE would mean more illegal immigrants would come into the U.S. and added that the administration is fully supportive of the agency.
“While some people today are calling for the abolition of this great agency, in this White House, let me be clear we are with you 100% –and as the president said last night we will always stand proudly with the brave hero’s of ICE and Border Patrol,” Pence said.
His remarks come at a time when ICE has come under fire and the slogan "Abolish ICE" has gained traction among activists and some Democratic politicians.
Pence specifically called out Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY. as well as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon as "reckless" in their rhetoric on abolishing ICE.
“Just when we thought the Democrats couldn’t get any more reckless, leading members of that party, and many of its candidates for higher office,” are calling to abolish ICE, Pence said.
“So we believe that we should protect families that need our help and that is not what ICE is doing today,” Gillibrand said in an interview with CNN in late June. “And that’s why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works.”
Nixion also from New York echoed those statements.
“I think it's important to know also parents and children aren't just being separated at the border. They are being separated throughout this country by ICE," Nixon said on The View. I think we need to abolish ICE. That seems really clear. They have strayed so far from the interests of the American people and the interests of humanity," she continued.
Pence said such attacks have “strengthened the resolve” of the administration and Trump to stand behind the agency.
There has also been an increase recently, in threats leveled against some in the Department of Homeland Security which oversees Customs and Border Protection.
DHS determined that there was a "heightened threat against DHS employees" in response to the recent DHS actions, according to a letter sent to employees in late June.
The backlash from some stems from the administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy that lead to separating families on the U.S. - Mexico border. That practice sparked outrage among lawmakers, public reprisals, and protests. Ultimately, the president signed an executive order to end the practice.
On Friday, the Department of Justice asked a federal judge for an extension to reunite families separated at the U.S - Mexico border.