Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth expressed concern Sunday about the way the executive branch is handling the immigration crisis, but stopped short of joining her liberal colleagues in the Senate calling to abolish US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I think there’s a lot of other things we can do before we get to that point,” Duckworth told CNN’s “State of the Union” anchor Jake Tapper. “First of which, which is, you’ve got somebody in the White House who has these policies which are horrendous, which he still hasn’t fixed. Families are still separated. Children are still in cages. Nursing babies are still separated from their moms.”
The Illinois senator’s comments come after some of her Democratic colleagues, including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, called for ICE to be abolished during protests over the weekend.
Duckworth said that the crisis of undocumented immigrant children being separated from their families is rooted in policies enacted by President Donald Trump’s administration.
“I think if you abolish ICE as it is as an executive agency, it reflects the policies of the White House, of the President,” she said. “You abolish ICE now, you still have the same President with the same failed policies, whatever you replace it with is just still (going to) reflect what this President wants to do.”
Duckworth wasn’t the only Midwestern Democratic lawmaker who stopped short of calling for ICE to be eliminated. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar also said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that the crisis was rooted in poor policies.
“I think what has to change are the policies, and the people that are making these policies are making horrendous decisions like separating kids from their parents,” Klobuchar said. “We are always going to need immigration enforcement. … So to me, the issue is what are those policies, and please let’s get comprehensive immigration reform, something I’ve strongly supported for years.”
Duckworth also told CNN that she has not received a response from the White House to a letter asking how the administration plans to reunite immigrant children with their families.
“(My concern is) that they don’t have a plan. That’s my suspicion,” Duckworth said. “I don’t think they even really know where all of the children are and who these children belong to.”
This story has been updated to remove the statement that Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin had joined Democratic colleagues in calling for ICE to be abolished. He has not done so, according to his office.