immigration

Would you redistribute the responsibilities of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to other agencies? If so, would ICE be abolished?

Abolish ICE and redistribute its duties

Abolish ICE and redistribute its duties

Bill de Blasio (Dropped out)

Mayor, New York City

de Blasio is no longer running for president. “So I think Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is right,” De Blasio said on The Brian Lehrer Show in June 2018, “We should abolish ICE. We should create something better, something different.”

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Bill de Blasio
de Blasio

Bernie Sanders (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Vermont

Sanders is no longer running for president. "As president, [Sanders] will break up ICE and CBP and redistribute their functions to their proper authorities," Sanders's immigration plan said. He issued a call to “abolish the cruel, dysfunctional immigration system we have today” in 2018. He told The Post in April 2019: “I voted against the creation of DHS and ICE in 2002, and it was the right vote. ICE has become a deportation and detention machine, and I would fundamentally restructure the agency, as well as all the agencies that currently enforce our immigration laws, to create a humane and rational immigration system with independent oversight.”

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Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Restructure ICE or redistribute some duties, but don’t abolish

Restructure ICE or redistribute some duties, but don’t abolish

Michael Bennet (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Colorado

Bennet is no longer running for president. Bennet supports restructuring ICE or redistributing its duties but not abolishing it, he told The Post.

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Mike Bloomberg (Dropped out)

Former New York mayor

Bloomberg is no longer running for president. Bloomberg supports restructuring ICE or redistributing its duties but not abolishing it, he told The Post.

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Mike Bloomberg
Bloomberg

Cory Booker (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New Jersey

Booker is no longer running for president. “I’ve been raising alarms about ICE’s actions for years and I am especially concerned that the Trump administration has removed seemingly every guardrail ensuring due process in immigration enforcement,” Booker told The Post. “ICE has clearly lost its way and must be reorganized and reformed.” In 2018, Booker told the Huffington Post: “I think we should be having hearings and really dive into this agency. It costs Americans billions of dollars. It’s not necessarily, in my opinion, achieving its high-minded purpose that might be achieved better in other ways.”

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Cory Booker
Booker

Pete Buttigieg (Dropped out)

Former mayor, South Bend, Ind.

Buttigieg is no longer running for president. “I support conducting a comprehensive review of ICE and CBP to assess how these organizations could be better structured to accomplish their broad array of missions, which extend beyond immigration,” Buttigieg told The Post. “If redistributing certain or all responsibilities to other agencies is the best way to do this, then we should. Above all, more than what the agencies are called and how they are structured, we need to have a conversation about how we perceive immigration and our nation’s security.”

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Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Julian Castro (Dropped out)

Former mayor, San Antonio

Castro is no longer running for president. “ICE needs to be overhauled,” Castro told The Post. “My immigration policy would transfer the enforcement responsibilities of the agency to other departments such as the DOJ to guarantee higher standards of conduct and more focused prosecutorial discretion — ensuring resources are focused on targeting criminals and national security threats.”

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Julian Castro
Castro

Tulsi Gabbard (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Hawaii

Gabbard is no longer running for president. Gabbard supports restructuring ICE or redistributing its duties but not abolishing it, her campaign told The Post.

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Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Kirsten Gillibrand (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New York

Gillibrand is no longer running for president. In 2018, Gillibrand told CNN that “I think you should separate the criminal justice from the immigration issues and I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency with a very different mission.” She told the Post-Star newspaper in Upstate New York that she would “give it a new name and a new directive.”

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Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand

Kamala D. Harris (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, California

Harris is no longer running for president. Harris called for “a complete overhaul of the agency, mission, culture, operations” in 2018.

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Kamala Harris
Harris

John Hickenlooper (Dropped out)

Former governor, Colorado

Hickenlooper is no longer running for president. Hickenlooper supports restructuring ICE or redistributing some duties, but not abolishing it, he told The Post.

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John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper

Amy Klobuchar (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Minnesota

Klobuchar is no longer running for president. Klobuchar would redistribute responsibilities of ICE to other agencies but would not abolish ICE, her campaign told The Post.

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Seth Moulton (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Massachusetts

Moulton is no longer running for president. “No, we should not abolish ICE — we should reform it,” Moulton told The Post. “When a problem arises with the fire department, we don’t call for abolishing the fire department. ICE should be focused on mitigating security threats, not staffing and running child detention facilities.”

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Seth Moulton
Moulton

Beto O'Rourke (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Texas

O'Rourke is no longer running for president. “I made the case using El Paso as an example. We don't need those internal roundups in deportations and enforcement,“ O'Rourke said of ICE in April. “We need to make sure that anyone who threatens the lives of all Americans or use of violence, that there is accountability. I want to make sure we include everyone in the solution to our challenges and safety, democratic or otherwise, and having these ICE operations is not a way to do it.” He said at a rally during his 2018 Senate race: “I'm open to doing whatever it takes. If it's reorganizing the Department of Homeland Security and changing the functions of ICE, having greater accountability, abolishing that agency altogether, that's fine. But there will still have to be enforcement of our immigration laws in this country.”

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Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

Deval Patrick (Dropped out)

Former governor, Massachusetts

Patrick is no longer running for president. Patrick supports restructuring ICE, or redistributing some of its duties, but not abolishing the agency, his campaign told The Post. “We will overhaul the culture and priorities of all the relevant enforcement agencies, including ICE, to prepare it for this new mission,” his immigration plan said.

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Deval Patrick
Patrick

Joe Sestak (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

Sestak is no longer running for president. “Redistribute some of ICE's duties — such as implementional the National Mass Care Strategy to involve FEMA and the Red Cross as we would with any other humanitarian disaster — and increase oversight to protect against abuses,” Sestak told The Post.

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Joe Sestak
Sestak

Tom Steyer (Dropped out)

Billionaire activist

Steyer is no longer running for president. Steyer supports restructuring ICE or redistributing its duties but not abolishing it, he told The Post.

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Tom Steyer
Steyer

Elizabeth Warren (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

Warren is no longer running for president. In her immigration plan, Warren pledges to “reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, focusing their efforts on homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking.” She previously The Post, “We need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom — an agency that can't tell the difference in the risk between a 7-year-old girl and a criminal or a terrorist is an agency that is not working.” She called for “replacing ICE” in 2018.

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Elizabeth Warren
Warren

Marianne Williamson (Dropped out)

Author

Williamson is no longer running for president. “We can have other existing agencies take on some responsibilities of ICE, such as vetting asylum seekers,” Williamson told The Post. “There is no need to abolish ICE, it is needed to perform police functions such as locating and processing criminals and security risks. ICE should perform police functions, not humanitarian functions. Families seeking asylum should be treated differently than criminals and security risks.”

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Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Keep ICE

Keep ICE

Steve Bullock (Dropped out)

Governor, Montana

Bullock is no longer running for president. “I would not,” Bullock told The Post. “I would, however, refocus ICE’s enforcement priorities towards people involved in criminal activities that pose legitimate threats to public safety in this country.”

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Steve Bullock
Bullock

John Delaney (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

Delaney is no longer running for president. “I do not support abolishing ICE,” Delaney told The Post.

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John Delaney
Delaney

Tim Ryan (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Ohio

Ryan is no longer running for president. “No, I would not,” Ryan told The Post. “I believe we need to work together with our law enforcement and border security agencies, including ICE, to help them do their jobs in the most humane, efficient and effective way possible.”

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Tim Ryan
Ryan

Eric Swalwell (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, California

Swalwell is no longer running for president. "I would neither redistribute ICE’s duties nor abolish it. I would abolish policies that separate children from families,” Swalwell told The Post.

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Eric Swalwell
Swalwell

Andrew Yang (Dropped out)

Tech entrepreneur

Yang is no longer running for president. “ICE has important responsibilities related to combating human rights violations (including human trafficking) and international criminal/terrorist organizations,” Yang told The Post. “I’d direct them to focus on those efforts instead of enforcement and removal of people not engaged in these criminal activities.”

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Andrew Yang
Yang

Unclear/No response

Unclear/No response

Joe Biden

Former vice president

Biden did not provide an answer to this question.

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Joe Biden
Biden

Jay Inslee (Dropped out)

Governor, Washington state

Inslee is no longer running for president. “As a member of Congress, I consistently voted against draconian border barriers, and against utilizing local police to enforce our immigration laws,” Inslee told The Post, adding that he would “focus immigration enforcement on true threats to our security.”

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Jay Inslee
Inslee

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Background President Trump’s aggressive domestic immigration enforcement policy has turned many Democrats against the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security tasked with domestic enforcement of immigration laws. ICE statistics show that the agency removed 267,258 people from the country in fiscal 2019, up from 240,255 people in fiscal 2016.

The Post is sending detailed questionnaires to every Democratic candidate asking for their stances on various issues. See all the issues we’ve asked about so far.

See our other questions on immigration:

How candidate positions were compiled

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic campaign asking whether it supports various changes to U.S. immigration and border security policy. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports. See something we missed? Let us know.

This page will update as we learn more about the candidates’ plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president. If a candidate dropped out after a question was published here, their stance is included under the "Show former candidates" option. If they dropped out before a question was first published, the Post did not reach out to get their stance.

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Candidate illustrations by Ben Kirchner.