Speaker Pelosi had a rough time Monday trying to wrangle Democrats toward passage of a bill that would provide billions to address the crisis taking place at the border. She is facing pushback from the progressive caucus and especially from a group of four congresswomen led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. From Politico:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a final pitch to the caucus on Tuesday, arguing that Democrats needed to swiftly act on the humanitarian crisis, rather than squabbling over the White House’s broader border policies…
Democratic leaders plan to hold a vote later Tuesday on the $4.5 billion emergency measure, which would avert a funding lapse at the federal refugee office that has overseen thousands of unaccompanied children migrating from Central America…
The all-out whip operation followed a lengthy — and tense — meeting in Pelosi’s office Monday night. Members of both the Hispanic and Progressive caucuses were threatening to vote against the bill, putting its passage in jeopardy.
High-profile progressives, including Ocasio-Cortez, gave “impassioned” speeches Monday night about how the bill didn’t go far enough to ensure the administration was addressing basic humanitarian needs for migrant children who are being held at the border.
Over the weekend, AOC, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib released a joint statement refusing to fund “criminal agencies” and calling on fellow Democrats to abolish ICE:
These radicalized, criminal agencies are destroying families and killing innocent children. It is absolutely unconscionable to even consider giving one more dollar to support this President’s deportation force that openly commits human rights abuses and refuses to be held accountable to the American people…
We must be equitable in our outrage. We must abolish ICE. We must invest in community-based alternatives to detention. We must end the system of mass detention and deportation of immigrants. We must create an immigration system that reflects our values and respects the dignity and humanity of all.
AOC has two problems here. First, the Senate has already passed a border bill which is less stringent on how the money is spent. Dragging the House bill to the left will only ensure that most of the changes will be dropped in negotiations with the Senate to get a final bill the president will agree to sign. AOC really doesn’t have much leverage in this situation.
Second, like most socialists, she’s long on critiques of the current system and short on workable alternatives. Once you’ve called CBP and ICE “criminal agencies,” accused them of killing children, and labeled their detention centers “concentration camps” it’s pretty clear you want these agencies eliminated. What would that mean?
If you have 3,000 people a day coming across the border and the plan is to immediately bus them to community centers around the country and not deport them, what you really have is a wide-open border. That would quickly become a super-magnet for illegal immigration. Millions more would flee difficult conditions in Central America for life here in the U.S.
If AOC, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib get their way, it will make the current border crisis look insignificant compared to what comes next. It’s amazing that no one in the media seems very interested in asking about the important incentives abolishing ICE and getting rid of detention centers would create.