PRESS RELEASE: Gifford Statement on ICE

July 8, 2018

LOWELL–Rufus Gifford, Democratic candidate for Congress in Massachusetts’ 3rd District, today released the following statement on calls to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE):

“Like most Americans, I am absolutely appalled to see families separated at the border and ICE agents tear peaceful families apart in cities and towns in the 3rd District and across the country. It’s offensive, immoral, and un-American in every way. 

“But we can’t lose sight of the fact that the root of the problem here is President Trump’s racist and xenophobic immigration policies. Closing ICE down will not inherently solve the problem. ICE’s actions are a symptom of the disease, not the disease itself.

“As someone who has worked at the top levels of the federal government and, as Ambassador, worked with DHS and ICE agents on implementing American immigration policy, I understand who makes the decisions—it’s the President, the political leadership, and their policy guidance that we need to fight, not the agency itself. 

“ICE is certainly in need of reform, new leadership, and new policy direction. If the agency was abolished, the administration would still have the same policies and it simply would use other vehicles and agencies to pursue its hateful agenda.

“We are a nation of laws, and they need to be enforced, but they also need to be in line with our values. This is why my focus is on returning to a comprehensive set of humane and compassionate immigration policies. 

“In order to return to a humane immigration system that reflects our values, we need to focus on changing the underlying policies and the policymakers. 

“This means we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, along the lines of the 2013 bipartisan Gang of 8 bill, that would provide a pathway to citizenship for those undocumented. As part of that, I think there should be strong statutes that govern detention and deportation policies and set priorities for ICE, for example, prioritizing violent criminal offenders for deportation.  

“And most importantly, we need new leadership at the top. We need to do everything we can to elect a Democratic President and a Democratic-led Congress so we can set policies that are in line with our values. This is a big reason why I’m running for Congress, this is how we fix this once and for all, and this is where my focus will be.”