In the middle of growing outrage over the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policies, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the head of one of the nation’s most Democratic-leaning states, declined to get on board with progressives’ growing demand that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement be abolished.
Speaking to local TV station NY1’s Roma Torre on Wednesday, Cuomo declined to add his voice to the growing chorus on the left calling for ICE to be dismantled. Also on Wednesday, his progressive primary opponent Cynthia Nixon made it clear she supports getting rid of the agency, which was founded in 2003.
“I think ICE should be abolished,” Nixon said at an event in Brooklyn. “We’re at a point where women and children and people who are seeking asylum, people with absolutely no criminal record, are being deported.”
Shortly after Nixon’s comments, Cuomo told NY1 that ICE should not be abolished, but should instead be an agency that follows and enforces the law.
Over the past several months, calls to abolish the nation’s internal immigration enforcement agency have grown, as progressive activists and politicians fed up with the Trump administration’s immigration policies have decided America should reconsider its need for a mass deportation force. Such calls reached a fever pitch in recent days as news of Trump’s family separation policy have dominated the headlines. On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order rescinding the policy, though civil rights organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union have said that measure does not go far enough.
At least 21 candidates who are running for Congress or were running in 2018 have called for abolishing ICE. But no sitting member of Congress has endorsed the policy. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) came under fire from progressives after declining to support abolishing ICE in an appearance on MSNBC in March. Unlike Harris, Cuomo is locked in a fierce primary battle that has thus far become a test of his progressive bona fides.
Cuomo’s office announced Tuesday that the state of New York would sue the federal government over the now-rescinded policy. But as his primary fight continues, he may face pressure from Nixon to go further in demonstrating his opposition to Trump’s mass deportation policies and the agency tasked with carrying them out.