Montana’s two top Republicans in Congress pledged their support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday, a symbolic move to counter a small wing of liberal Democrats looking to abolish the agency.
Both Rep. Greg Gianforte and Sen. Steve Daines took to the House and Senate floors to make their case, with Gianforte voting in favor of a resolution to support the agency’s officers and personnel.
The resolution passed the House on a 244-35 vote with most Democrats abstaining from the vote.
“Some of my friends across the aisle have called for abolishing ICE,” Gianforte said in his floor speech. “Abolishing ICE is a reckless idea. Abolishing ICE flies in the face of the rule of law. Abolishing ICE would embolden violent criminals … and jeopardize the safety and security of our Montana communities.”
A small group of Democrats have responded to activists who want ICE abolished, citing the agency’s controversial tactics in apprehending, detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants.
The issue came to bear last month when the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy resulted in thousands of children being separated from their families while in detention. A handful of protesters in Missoula also called for abolishing the agency in a June rally.
While Daines joined a bill aimed at preventing the separation of immigrant families on the southern border last month, he pledged his support for ICE and its mission this week.
“Far too many people are coming into our country illegally and putting the safety and security of American citizens at risk,” Daines said. “Just last year, ICE seized nearly 50 tons of narcotics, nearly a million pounds of heroin, fentanyl, and other deadly drugs that criminals and cartels are smuggling into our country.”
Daines said calls to abolish ICE were “outrageous.”
“At a time when America is suffering from a drug epidemic, how many more lives would be lost if ICE agents were not protecting our borders?” he said.
Montana House candidate Kathleen Williams on Wednesday released a new campaign ad saying she would not vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi to lead Democrats in the House if elected to Congress.
“I’ve always put policy before politics and people before party, not because it’s the easy thing to do, but because it’s what Montanans expect and deserve from their elected officials,” said Williams.