White House hopeful Julián Castro called for the end of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Saturday ahead of a suspected operation to deport thousands of migrant families.
“I’ve said that instead of breaking up families, we should break up ICE,” the former Housing and Urban Development secretary said at the Netroots Nation conference in Philadelphia.
The comments come a day before the reported start of an ICE operation in several major cities across the country that would deport thousands of families living in the U.S. without documentation.
Castro said in his immigration plan earlier this year that he would separate ICE’s deportation and enforcement force from its national security arm, which investigates human and drug trafficking and other transnational crimes.
The administration’s immigration policies are under increased scrutiny after a Department of Homeland Security watchdog report found “dangerous overcrowding” and “prolonged detention of children and adults” at facilities in the Rio Grande Valley. Twelve people have died in the custody of U.S. immigration authorities since September.
Vice President Pence visited a migrant detention facility Friday, saying the overcrowded conditions are evidence of an escalating crisis at the border. However, Democrats have said any crisis is manufactured and that the administration’s policies have led to the spike in detentions.
“This administration traffics in cruelty, and the images that we saw yesterday were just one more example of that. He’s betting basically that there are enough Americans out there whose fear and paranoia could be stoked in a way that they’re going to out and vote for him,” Castro said of President TrumpDonald John TrumpIn 1710 the Brits impeached an orange-haired populist — It did not go well Philadelphia mayor posts photo of Rapinoe atop City Hall: ‘Equal pay now!’ Social media summit highlights partisan approaches on tech MORE.