Washington (CNN)Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that the calls within the Democratic Party to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency are "irresponsible" and "unacceptable."
Pence says Democrats' calls to abolish ICE are 'irresponsible,' defends agency
"Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio have all already called for ICE's abolition," the Vice President said in a visit to ICE headquarters in Washington, DC.
He also pointed to "a leading candidate for governor of New York appallingly called this agency a 'terrorist organization,'" referring to New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon.
"The American people have a right to their opinions, but these spurious attacks on ICE by our political leaders must stop," Pence said to some applause in the room. "The type of language that's being used to describe the men and women in this agency and the work that you do every day is unacceptable."
He later added, "The truth is the calls to abolish ICE are not just outrageous, they're irresponsible."
Throughout his speech, the Vice President assured ICE officers in attendance that they have the support of Trump administration and would be continually provided resources.
"At a time when some people are actually calling for the abolition of ICE, in this White House, let me clear, we are with you 100 percent," Pence said, adding that the agency would never be removed under President Donald Trump.
Pence argued that dismantling the agency would lead to more violent crime, more gangs like MS-13, more drugs in the country, and increased human trafficking.
ICE has been a target of public outrage for enforcing the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy at the border and separating parents from their children in order to criminally prosecute them for illegally entering the US. The administration has stopped the practice of family separations and has been attempting to reunite families.
After his speech Friday, Pence was asked by a reporter if "child separation was a Christian thing to do." He did not answer the question.
Pence traveled to Central and South America at the end of last month, and participated in a multi-lateral meeting in Guatemala City with leaders from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, all countries who have seen a number of their citizens recently attempt to legally and illegal immigrate to the US.
The President of El Salvador stressed during that meeting that separated children and parents must be reunited at the southern border of the United States, and the President of Honduras also acknowledged the need to tackle the immigration crisis at "the root of the problem" by ensuring security to Hondurans in their own country.
In his remarks to the group, Pence emphasized a mutual respect of borders and sovereignty -- and insisted that the exodus must end.