But the party’s most prominent immigration policymakers in the House — Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois and Zoe Lofgren of California — were not at all happy with the Abolish ICE bill. “I talked to Mark and told him, ‘I don’t think this is a good bill,’ ” Lofgren, a former immigration lawyer, told me. “It lets President Trump off the hook. ICE is doing what he told them to do.” Gutiérrez, a note of bewilderment in his voice, said: “I mean, you want to change the conversation from the inhumanity of caging children to abolishing ICE? They must have been jumping for joy at the White House.” (Indeed, Trump subsequently scoffed: “Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to abolish the brave men and women of ICE. What I want to do is abolish the killers in ISIS.”)
The bill’s proponents also seemed oblivious to how it would play in districts less liberal than, say, Seattle. In late June, while the notion of abolishing ICE was first being voiced by elected Democrats, Representative Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana expressed his consternation during a caucus meeting. “I’ve been here a long time,” he said, according to one person who was present as well as notes taken by a second attendee. “At one time, there were eight Democrats from Indiana” in the House. “Now there are two.”
The economic conditions in Indiana remained a source of overriding concern for his constituents, Visclosky said. In meetings with them, “they said that they will vote for me — implying that they won’t vote for other Democrats. I’m trying to help them with their jobs.” He went on: “I support everything that this caucus is doing on immigration, and on the Syrian population. But I just hope that someday this caucus shows the same energy and passion” when “we talk about jobs.” Several in the caucus applauded.