Gillibrand’s “abolish ICE” campaign is “politically unsustainable,” former ICE undersecretary says

Dem candidate’s support for abolish ICE movement is ‘disgraceful,’ former immigration official says

The former top official at the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday blasted the Democratic presidential candidate for being the first 2020 primary candidate to endorse ending the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency that she said has abused and killed children while enforcing the law.

Former ICE undersecretary James Bernstein said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was “disgraceful” for her campaign to “use children as political pawns” in her immigration platform, which she calls the “abolish ICE” movement.

“Kirsten Gillibrand’s decision to use children as political pawns in order to advance her political career is shameful and appalling,” Bernstein said in a statement posted to Twitter. “The end result will be children dying in U.S. government detention.”

Former ICE undersecretary James Bernstein speaks at the ICE Federation’s “End ICE” forum in Washington on Sept. 5, 2018. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / Reuters

Gillibrand announced last week that she supports the “abolish ICE” movement, which has been pushed by anti-ICE activists such as actor Danny Glover who’s given the movement $50,000 in his campaign. The movement has also been championed by the likes of President Donald Trump and far-right groups like the white nationalist American Renaissance.

Bernstein urged Gillibrand to be more “sophisticated” on immigration as a candidate.

The move is “a political diversion to make her look more presidential,” Bernstein said. “I strongly believe that this movement — which she is now a part of — is politically unsustainable, because it’s not clear that the president is committed to enforcing the law.”

Gillibrand’s national immigration platform addresses some of the concerns raised by the movement, but focuses more on “the most vulnerable” in the U.S. and has a plan to support the Dreamers who were brought to the country illegally as children, Bernstein said.

Bernstein said the plan has

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