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Pence rips Democrats on immigration, defends ICE

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence on Friday accused Democrats of making opposition to the federal immigration agency central to their party, calling for an end to ‘‘spurious attacks’’ on US Immigration and Customs.

In an address at ICE headquarters infused with electoral politics, Pence noted that some prominent Democrats had called for the abolition of the agency charged with detaining and deporting migrants entering the country illegally. He said President Trump would fully support immigration enforcement agents and warned that the abolition of ICE would lead to more illegal immigration, human trafficking, violent crime, and the proliferation of drugs and ‘‘vicious gangs.’’

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‘‘It isn’t just the expression of the radical left that has been speaking out against ICE. The truth is that opposition of ICE has moved to the center of the Democratic Party itself,’’ Pence said in a speech to ICE employees. ‘‘Just when you thought the Democrats couldn’t move farther to the left, leading members of the Democratic Party, including candidates for higher office, are actually openly advocating the abolition of ICE.’’

‘‘The American people have the right to their opinions, but these spurious attacks on ICE by our political leaders must stop,’’ Pence said.

ICE has come under fire from Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Warren has called Trump’s immigration policies ‘‘immoral’’ and said the US needs to rebuild its immigration system ‘‘from top to bottom, starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our values.”