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The left-wing campaign to abolish ICE is catching on among Democrats

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Protesters at a Manhattan rally against the Trump administration's immigration policies on June 1.
Protesters
at a Manhattan rally against the Trump administration’s
immigration policies on June 1.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • The progressive campaign to abolish the Immigration and
    Customs Enforcement agency is catching on among Democratic
    voters, according to new polling.
  • But Americans’ views on ICE are deeply divided along
    partisan lines — while 72% of Democrats have an unfavorable
    view of the agency, the same percentage of Republicans have a
    positive view.
  • This comes amid reports of widespread abuses at the
    agency, a spike in arrests of undocumented immigrants, and
    President Donald Trump’s deeply controversial “zero tolerance”
    immigration policy.

The progressive movement to abolish the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement agency is staking out ground in the political
mainstream — and 72% of Democrats now support eliminating the
agency, according to new polling.

But Americans’ views on ICE are deeply divided along partisan
lines. The same share of Republicans — 72% — have a favorable
opinion of ICE, according to the
Pew Research Center poll
.

Among the general public, ICE was the least popular federal
agency among nine agencies polled by Pew. (The most popular was
the National Park Service, with an 83% favorability rating).
Overall, about the same portion of Americans have a positive view
of ICE (49%) as have a negative view (44%).


What began as a Twitter hashtag
— in response to stories of
abuse at the agency and a spike in arrests of undocumented
immigrants — has transformed into a movement of grassroots
activists and establishment Democrats alike, calling for reform
or elimination of the 15-year-old agency.

“These numbers prove that the movement to abolish ICE is
destroying the agency’s credibility,” Sean McElwee, a left-wing
activist and pollster who popularized the #AbolishICE twitter
campaign, said of the polling in a message to Business Insider.
“ICE’s deportation machine is being ground to a halt by thousands
of organized activists across the county and its political
strength will only grow weaker with time and scrutiny.”

Progressive pundits tend to agree with McElwee that the campaign
has been successful.

“Abolish ICE a pretty good example of a calculated political risk
that is paying off,” tweeted
liberal columnist and Vox editor Matt Yglesias‏ on Tuesday.

Between January and May, there were an average of 3,600 tweets
mentioning the hashtag or phrase “Abolish ICE.” In the month of
June, there were 77,000 such tweets, according to McElwee’s
organization Data
for Progress
. The spike in support for the campaign coincided
with the Trump administration’s implementation of its “zero
tolerance” immigration policy, under which young migrant children
were forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico
border.


Immigration activists march outside of the Department of Justice in DC last month.
Immigration
activists march outside of the Department of Justice in DC last
month.

Richard
Vogel/Reuters


Last month, Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, introduced the
first-ever piece of legislation to eliminate the agency.

But President Donald Trump and many on the right are celebrating
the campaign as a political gift — arguing that the position will
turn independents and center-left voters away from the Democratic
party.

“I hope they keep it up, because we’re going to have a lot of fun
in four months and we’re going to have a lot of fun in 2020
running against that,” Trump told the
crowd at a Kansas City rally on Tuesday
.

While the president and Republican lawmakers have condemned the
campaign, Trump has continued his hostility towards the FBI, and
the US intelligence community more broadly.

Since Trump took office, Republican faith in the FBI has
plummeted. Since early 2017, the portion of Republicans and
Republican-leaning independents who view the FBI positively has
dropped 16 percentage points, from 65% to 49%. An approximately
equal share of Republicans now view the bureau favorably as those
who view it unfavorably, according to Pew.

Overall, the FBI has a 65% favorability rating, and 77% of
Democrats and Democratic-leaning individuals have a positive
opinion of the bureau — which is unchanged from a year ago.

The Pew poll surveyed 1,007 adults between July 11-15 and has a
margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

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