Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson opens a major renovation of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Forensic Laboratory in Tysons Corner, Va., on July 20, 2016. (Official DHS photo by Jetta Disco)

Jeh Johnson: Reform, Not Abolish, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called on frustrated citizens and politicians to seek change of Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies or leadership rather than demand the agency disband.

In a Washington Post op-ed July 6, Johnson wrote that while “Abolish ICE makes for a good rallying cry on the left,” the reality of doing so is as likely as Mexico paying for a U.S. border wall.

He argued that elections have consequences of policy change instead of the elimination of entire agencies, and he added that to abolish ICE would pose a serious risk to public safety. Johnson noted that ICE is focused on preventing cross-border smuggling of narcotics or people and investigating crimes such as sales of contraband, property theft or production of child pornography.

“Meanwhile, I constantly reminded ICE leadership that controversial, high-profile cases of fathers torn from their families and students pulled from their schools for deportation would turn ICE into a pariah in the very communities where its agents must work, and would threaten to undermine ICE’s larger public-safety mission,” Johnson wrote. “I regret to watch that happening now, as ICE is vilified across the country and sanctuary cities are emboldened to proclaim themselves as such. My thoughts are with the hard-working men and women of the agency caught in the middle of this political firestorm.”

Johnson added that calls to abolish ICE merely “sow even greater division in the American public and in its political leadership, damaging any remaining prospect of bipartisan immigration reform.”

In a previous op-ed, Johnson condemned the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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