(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, told CNN this week, "We need to change the policies of ICE so they don't terrorize communities."
CNN's Jim Acosta asked Lieu if he has joined the growing chorus of Democrats who want to see the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency abolished:
"We just put in a new ICE director. I think he should be given some opportunity to try to change the culture of ICE," Lieu responded. "Then we need to change the policies of ICE so they don't terrorize communities. If none of that happens, then I would support abolishing ICE and replacing it with an agency that is more consistent with America's values."
According to its website, ICE enforces more than 400 federal laws, focusing on "smart immigration enforcement, preventing terrorism, and combating the illegal movement of people and trade.
Although illegal immigrants may be terrified of ICE's congressionally sanctioned enforcement and removal operations, ICE agents also round up MS-13 gang members who truly "terrorize" American communities. Just this week, for example, ICE announced that 24 alleged MS-13 members have been indicted for violent racketeering, murder and money laundering conspiracies.
CNN's Acosta followed up, asking Lieu if he's concerned that Democrats will be portrayed as "anti-law-enforcement" heading into the midterm election.
I'm not concerned because ICE actually doesn't deal with borders. That's Customs and Border Patrol. No one is calling me for elimination of Border Patrol. What happened to ICE is it was an agency with multiple missions, including tackling child pornography, sex trafficking, things people can support.
But part of the mission went beyond what they were supposed to do, and they started terrorizing communities. That's the part Democrats are concerned about. And the president, since his inauguration, has been bashing immigrants this entire time. At the same time, Democrats won 43 special elections, flipped Alabama, flipped a seat in western Pennsylvania. So we're happy to talk about immigration as well as the economy and jobs. Clearly, people are not experiencing the benefits of this economy, especially middle-class families.
Last Saturday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen named Ronald Vitiello as acting director of ICE. Vitiello formerly served as the acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.