Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum became the first Florida Demoratic gubernatorial candidate Tuesday to adopt a progressive position that’s growing in support and controversy nationally: the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“I support a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes abolishment of ICE in its current form to be replaced with a more compassionate and focused agency that actually keeps us safer,” Gillum stated in a news release issued Tuesday.
“Donald Trump has turned ICE into a police and child separation agency — not a border enforcement agency that treats people humanely and compassionately,” Gillum continued. “A decision between security or compassionate immigration policy is a false choice; we can have them both, and I promise to fight for that as governor.”
The notion of abolishing ICE had its rise with the revelations this summer that President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy toward undocumented or illegal immigrants led to the splits of thousands of families in a matter of months, sending young children alone to detention centers. The idea picked up national attention when progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an ICE abolitionist, won her surprise congressional primary in New York last month, and a handful of other Democrats nationally have picked up the rallying cry, though few as prominent as a Florida gubernatorial candidate.
Then again, governors have little say about federal agencies.
If Gillum wins the August 28 primary, or if the Democrat who wins takes the same position, it’s sure to lead to major rhetorical showdows this fall. At last week’s Republcian Party of Florida Sunshine Summit the Republican candidates Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis, and many of the speakers, ridiculed progressive Democrats for suggesting ICE should be abolished. It would be an issue with clear-cut diametric positions.
Gillum faces Winter Park businessman Chris King, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene, and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the Aug. 28 primary.