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Few Democrats favor abolishing ICE, poll finds

WASHINGTON — The rallying cry from some liberals to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement isn’t a likely winner this election year.

A new poll released Monday has found that only a quarter of Democrats support eliminating the agency that carried out the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents.

But even as they don’t want to fully dismantle ICE, 57 percent of Democrats view the agency negatively, including nearly three-fourths of those who describe themselves as liberal, according to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The findings demonstrate tension among Democrats about how to address the crisis at the border that intensified in June when the Trump administration instituted a family separation policy to deter illegal immigration.


Some potential Democratic presidential contenders, such as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, backed getting rid of ICE in response to the separations. Others, including Senator Kamala Harris of California, urged a rethinking of the agency but stopped short of calling for its abolition.

President Trump has seized on the Democratic criticism of ICE to paint the party as weak on immigration and national security. The administration reversed its separation policy amid an the outcry, but hundreds of children remain separated from their families.

Overall, opinions about ICE are divided along partisan lines. While a majority of Democrats view the agency negatively, Republicans largely have favorable views of ICE.