NEW YORK -- There have been rallies and calls on social media to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and on Thursday New York City Council took it one step further as the Committee on Immigration held a first-of-its-kind hearing on what it might look like to get rid of the agency.
"There's no doubt that the question around abolish ICE has reached fever pitch," City Councilman Carlos Menchaca said. "So many of our communities are asking us to think about this."
Menchaca chairs the City Council's Immigration Committee, which introduced a new bill that would prohibit the city from doing business with immigration enforcement entities.
"We want to be able to show how cities can talk about it in a very thoughtful way," Menchaca said. "That is what will bring us to a better solution and not in this polarized discussion that we see today in the political campaigns."
During the hearing, experts argued that the tactics used by ICE have sent many immigrants into hiding whether they're undocumented or in the country legally.
"I don't feel comfortable and I can imagine that my fellow brothers and sisters are not feeling comfortable either because they are afraid of being deported," said Daisy Rodriguez, with Make the Road New York.
Rodgriguez said she's seen the impact firsthand in her community. From staking out illegal immigrants at court houses to separating children from their parents, Rodriguez said she thinks that all undocumented immigrants are treated like violent criminals.
"We're not a threat. We're contributing to this society," she said.
While immigrant arrests are up 65 percent from the past year, 74 percent of ICE arrests are people with criminal convictions.
The committee voted on a resolution calling on Congress to pass the "Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act," which would abolish ICE and enact sweeping immigration reforms. Menchaca said the current agency and tactics can't continue to exist without hurting New York communities and the rest of the country.
"It's ripping apart the basic fabric of a civic society," he said.AlertMe