Four Illinois state lawmakers and six Chicago aldermen have joined nearly 150 other state and local officials nationwide in calling for the abolishment of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.
Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Skokie), Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) and Rep. Theresa Mah (D-Chicago), joined Ald. George Cardenas (12th), Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), Ricardo Muñoz (22nd), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), Milly Santiago (31st) and Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd) in co-signing an open letter calling for an end to the agency.
The letter, made public on Tuesday afternoon, is sponsored by officials in more than 20 states. It calls for an immediate end to ICE on humanitarian grounds, arguing that the agency does more harm than good.
It accuses ICE of “rampant and brutal enforcement tactics,” calling it “a lawless federal agency” that “has terrorized immigrants and separated families in the communities we live in and represent. … ICE spends more time destroying communities than it does keeping communities safe while violating basic civil and human rights. The experiment that is ICE has failed, and must be ended as soon as possible.”
Calls to abolish ICE have increased in recent months, driven by the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance border-enforcement policy, which resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents.
Since then, “abolish ICE” has morphed from a hashtag to a litmus test for some candidates and officeholders. Monday’s letter doesn’t say what abolishing ICE would mean in practice. Some immigrant rights activists are calling for a moratorium on deportations altogether; others see getting rid of ICE as a way to reform how immigration law is enforced.
Carlos Ballesteros is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.