Politics

McConnell Embraces ICE, Rejects Democrats’ ‘Foaming Hysteria’

Majority leader thinks Democratic presidential hopefuls are going too far

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., visited an ICE facility on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks Democrats are going too far in pushing to eliminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he said Tuesday.

The Kentucky Republican opened the Senate by declaring the chamber’s GOP faction stands behind ICE. McConnell spent part of his day Friday visiting the local ICE headquarters in his home of Louisville.

“This is hardly a controversial mission. It’s essential,” McConnell said of the internal enforcement authorities of ICE.

McConnell Defends ICE on Senate Floor, Says It's Essential

The Louisville office had been the subject of protests.

“According to these left-wing groups,” McConnell said Tuesday. “The threat to democracy is not, not the violent criminals who are illegally present in our country, but rather the brave law enforcement officers who volunteer to take them on.”

McConnell’s floor speech in part reprised comments he made last week, when he expressed surprise about 2020 Democratic presidential candidates’ support for eliminating the immigration enforcement agency. He accused them of “foaming hysteria.”

“Fringe political movements are nothing new. You can find a few Americans who will argue almost any side of any issue,” McConnell said. “What is new, what does get my attention, is when prominent leading Democratic politicians including a number of our colleagues right here in the Senate adopt some of these extremist views wholesale, and let the far-left talking points form the basis of their own policy positions.”

The majority leader made reference to comments from Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts about the immigration agency.

He also mentioned comments from late January from Rep. Yvette Clarke, in which the New York Democratic congresswoman referred to an ICE office in New York City as, “the Gestapo of the United States.”

McConnell’s floor speech came just as a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing got underway in a hearing room with an abundance of protesters.

The Judiciary panel was meeting to review this year’s crisis of families being separated near the Southwest border, and broader immigration enforcement policy under President Donald Trump. Much of the focus of the hearing fell under the jurisdiction of Customs and Border Protection.

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