U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday defended the country's embattled immigration control agency against calls by some opposition Democrats to abolish it.
"The Liberal Left, also known as the Democrats, want to get rid of ICE, who do a fantastic job, and want Open Borders.Crime would be rampant and uncontrollable!" Trump said on Twitter, one of several tweets he made over the weekend supporting the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
In an interview on Fox News, Trump said that from a political standpoint, "I love that issue." He contended that if Democrats continue their call for abolishing the agency, "I think they'll never win another election."
Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated Saturday across the United States against his "zero tolerance" policy calling for the apprehension of anyone illegally crossing the Mexican border into the United States and for the immediate reunification of more than 2,000 immigrant children with their parents they were separated from when they entered the United States.
The government detained the parents to wait for legal proceedings on their claims for asylum in the U.S. and sent the children to shelters. A federal judge has ordered the government to reunite the families over the next three weeks, but U.S. officials have made little progress in carrying out the edict.On June 20, Trump issued an executive order that promised to end family separations when possible.
Trump did not comment directly on the protests that took place in major cities and small towns. But he said, "When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back out without going through years of legal maneuvering. Our laws are the dumbest anywhere in the world."
Some key Democratic lawmakers who are possibly eyeing a 2020 presidential campaign against Trump's re-election bid have called for closing ICE, which is part of the government's Homeland Security agency.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York told CNN last week that ICE has "become a deportation force" and that "you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works."
Senator Kamala Harris of California told several news outlets that "maybe" or "probably" the government should "start from scratch" on a new immigration enforcement agency.
Trump, however, in repeated tweets has defended the agency, saying Saturday, "To the great and brave men and women of ICE, do not worry or lose your spirit. You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements."
He also contended, inaccurately, that he "never pushed Republicans in the House" last week to vote for an immigration overhaul that would have put into law his executive order to end separating children from their parents when they are apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border. He had told fellow Republicans last week that they "should pass the strong, but fair immigration bill."
But the measure was overwhelmingly rejected, with solid Democratic opposition and a splintered Republican vote. It would have provided $25 billion in funding for a wall along the border, a Trump priority. But the most conservative Republican lawmakers opposed the legislation because it also created a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who years ago were brought illegally into the country by their parents, a provision they say amounts to "amnesty" for law breakers.
Trump said he knew the bill, even if it passed the House of Representatives, would not clear the Senate in the face of Democratic opposition. Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, where the immigration legislation would need a 60-vote super-majority to win approval.
Trump said he "released many" House Republicans so they could vote against the immigration bill last week. Trump branded the filibuster rule in the Senate requiring most significant legislation to need 60 votes for passage "ridiculous" and called for its abolition, but both Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have rejected calls to do so.