Less than two weeks on, the demand – a favored meme on the left – some of the most liberal lawmakers have been ignored by a growing roster of influential national democrats.
"I do not think ICE today is working as intended, "Gillibrand said Thursday night on CNN's" Cuomo PrimeTime. " "I believe it has become a deportation force, and I think you should separate the criminal justice from the immigration issues."
The rapid escalation was years in the making.
Progressive immigration rights activists – both Republican and Democratic administrations – ICE as a rogue agency that terrorized immigrant communities. Calls for its dissolution, once rare, are spreading.
A group of 19 agents with their Homeland Security Investigations unit, which deals with complex investigations including transnational crime, has been sent a letter to Nielsen asking for a break-up on the agency deportation activities. Concerns over the public backlash to actions were made by the Enforcement and Removal Operations Division.
In an interview, Pocan said a recent series of aggressive actions by ICE had led him to conclude that it serves well as President Donald Trump's " own political police force –
" The culmination of all these things, going to the border and then when the president started talking about getting rid of due process, "he said.
Leading progressive, like Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who have stopped short of calling for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has announced that it is abolishing ICE without changing President Trump's disastrous immigration policy not solve the problem. " They're not alone. Some progressives on the Hill worry that wielding the "Abolish ICE" banner would be a political gift to Trump and his allies, and that Democrats should consider a more nuanced approach.
Republicans are casting progressive calls to abolish the agency and the recent momentum in the Democratic Party as a move to the far left, evidence that Democrats are weak on border security and immigration enforcement.
"Recent calls to abolish ICE are dangerously misguided, "agency spokeswoman Jennifer D. Elzea said in an email.
"ICE, and it was very smart, because (incumbent Rep. Joe) Crowley was weak on immigration and she knew that he would never be able to get that, "McElwee said. She's just hammered him on it. "She's on the issue." I think 'Abolish ICE' is where it is today because of her leadership. "
Efforts to further escalate the fight beyond the electoral realm are already in motion. The Democratic Socialists of America, the biggest spike in new, dues-paying members since Trump's election on the day after Ocasio-Cortez's win, are planning to ramp up the pressure.
Maria Svart, the group's national director, said the organization is ready to "apply pressure and possibly to the narrative that ICE is horrific, has no place in our communities and needs to be abolished."
"That looks different in different places," she said , "We have chapters in every state in the country, and folks are doing everything from vigils to encampment to bird-dogging to really raise this issue in the public eye and say, 'We do not submit to this.'
Protests have begun to grow in size and frequency. By Friday afternoon, Philadelphia had made six arrests outside the city's ICE office, as a crowds chanted, "I'd rather go to a detention center."
Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym
Activists are seeking to expand the moral dimension of the fight. Hartford City Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez, of the Working Families Party, said the visceral nature of reporting from the border during the height of the separation process.
She likened the situation to the supremacist rallies last summer in Charlottesville, Va.
"Bermudez said," like you when you have people chanting on the street, you do not replace us, They're not talking about Jews. "
CNN's Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.