Several potential 2020 presidential hopefuls are signaling a shift to the progressive left by calling for the end of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and now President Donald Trump is using that rhetoric as a rallying cry.
In several tweets over the weekend, Trump painted Democrats as the "radical left" and said without ICE, crime would be "rampant and uncontrollable."
“The Democrats are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen. I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13 & clean out the toughest of situations. They are great!,” he tweeted Saturday.
In another tweet, Trump said: “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. So brave! The radical left Dems want you out. Next it will be all police. Zero chance, It will never happen!”
“The Liberal Left, also known as the Democrats, want to get rid of ICE, who do a fantastic job, and want Open Borders. Crime would be rampant and uncontrollable! Make America Great Again," he tweeted Sunday.
In the last week, a handful of Senate Democrats have called for the abolishing of the agency after Trump sparked a national backlash for a "zero-tolerance" immigration policy which resulted in thousands of migrant children being forcibly separated from their parents at the southern border.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, became the first senator to announce her support for the agency’s elimination last week.
ICE is the principal investigative agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is responsible for enforcing the nation's immigration laws.
On Thursday, Gillibrand tweeted: “I believe we need to protect families who need help, and ICE isn’t doing that. It has become a deportation force. We need to separate immigration issues from criminal justice. We need to abolish ICE, start over and build something that actually works.”
Fueling the Democrats' calls to move to abolish the agency is the surprise victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic socialist candidate who beat Rep. Joe Crowley in the New York Democratic primary.
Ocasio-Cortez touted the abolition of ICE as a key platform in her campaign.
Other political heavyweights, and possible 2020 presidential contenders are also on board with the #AbolishIce movement.
"The President's deeply immoral actions have made it obvious -- we need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom, starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our morality and that works," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said at an immigration protest in Boston on Saturday.
"President Trump seems to think the only way to have immigration rules is rip parents from their families, is to treat rape victims and refugees like terrorists and to put children in cages," Warren said.She added, "This is ugly, this is wrong, and this is not the way to run our country."
Last week, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said during an interview with MSNBC that “we need to probably think about starting from scratch” on internal immigration enforcement, adding: “I think there’s no question that we’ve got to critically re-examine ICE and its role and the way that it is being administered and the work it is doing.”
Despite the handful of Senate Democrats who have called for the end of ICE, others are more skeptical and say the agency should instead be overhauled instead of abolished.
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was asked by ABC News "This Week" Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday about the growing calls to disband the agency.
“Do you think ICE should be abolished?” Raddatz asked.
“I think what has to change are the policies, and the people that are making these policies are making horrendous decisions like separating kids from their parents,” Klobuchar said. “We are always going to need immigration enforcement, Martha, we know that. We are a major country with major borders.”
On CNN, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said on Sunday: “I think there's a lot of other things we can do before we get to that point, first of which, which is you have got someone in the White House who has these policies which are horrendous, which he still hasn't fixed."
“You abolish ICE now, you still have the president with the same failed policies. Whatever you replace it with is just going to still reflect what this president wants to do,” Duckworth explained.