Ayanna Pressley Calls for Defunding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

BOSTON, Monday, June 25th, 2018 – Ayanna Pressley today announced her support for defunding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), in light of the agency’s central role in enforcing deeply flawed, destructive immigration policies, and persistent issues related to sexual violence and living conditions in ICE detention facilities.

“Our immigration system is fundamentally broken and ICE’s role in supporting the existing system – including separating families seeking refuge in the United States and conducting indiscriminate deportation raids in our communities – is creating an atmosphere of toxic fear and mistrust in immigrant communities,” Pressley said. “I believe we need to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants living in the United States, but in the short term we must remove the existential threat facing immigrant communities by defunding ICE and eliminating its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) functions.”

Pressley continued, “It is also incumbent upon elected leaders at the local, state, and federal level to work collaboratively with advocates and others to determine what else can be done to actively defend and support immigrant communities in the face of these challenges, and to better understand the local impacts of ICE’s draconian enforcement methods.”

Pressley has spent her life working to address systemic issues of violence and trauma, and pointed to recent reports of widespread sexual violence in ICE detention facilities and the intergenerational trauma resulting from current enforcement activities as major reasons for defunding the agency.

“The reports of sexual violence in ICE detention facilities follow an all-too-familiar pattern of those in power taking advantage of vulnerable populations and those who are afraid to speak up, and speak to the critical lack of Federal oversight for ICE actions. Furthermore, the heart wrenching policy of separating children from their parents at the border, coupled with the deplorable conditions in ICE detention facilities, promise to create significant, long-lasting trauma that undermines efforts to build trust with immigrant communities,” said Pressley. “ICE was created less than 20 years ago, and it is clear now that the agency is irrevocably broken. If elected I will work with Federal leaders to rehouse the non-immigration enforcement functions of ICE – including human trafficking and money laundering investigations – elsewhere in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, while immediately eliminating funding for enforcement and removal functions.”

Pressley’s announcement comes in advance of a planned visit Wednesday to the South Bay House of Corrections in Boston, a county jail that has a contract with ICE to serve as a detention center for immigrants targeted for deportation. On Tuesday, Pressley will host a round table with immigration leaders and advocates in Everett, in advance of releasing the immigration section of her Equity Agenda later in the week.