New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the only Democrat to oppose a bill that would reopen the federal government because it included funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Ocasio-Cortez, a self-declared Democratic Socialist, has long called for ICE to be abolished. ICE was created in 2003.
"Most of our votes are pretty straightforward, but today was a tough/nuanced call," Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram after her vote. "We didn't vote with the party because one of the spending bills included ICE funding, and our community felt strongly about not funding that."
The bill passed with 220 Democrats and a few Republicans voting to back the bill, which would end the longest shutdown in history. 800,000 federal workers remain on furlough or are working without pay for the fifth consecutive week.
Ocasio-Cortez changed vote after criticism:
Ocasio-Cortez voted against the bill after she came under criticism for backing a similar bill that included funding for ICE.
“Unfortunately, while everyone was celebrating Ocasio-Cortez cutting footloose in college and clapping back at her trolls, the newly sworn-in representative from New York was breaking from one of her signature campaign promises of abolishing ICE,” Elizabeth King wrote at Brit + Co.
“The policies Ocasio-Cortez supports still matter, especially when those policies betray the progressive ideals that her supporters believe in,” King wrote. “If Ocasio-Cortez promised to overhaul ICE, the last thing she should be doing on her first days in office is putting her support behind funding for the DHS — even as a short-term measure. Her supporters should be able to hold her accountable for votes that go against major campaign promises, even if they enjoy joking around in celebration of her online amid illegitimate right-wing concern trolling.”
What does ICE actually do?
“ICE’s primary mission is to enforce immigration law within the interior of the United States — in other words, immigration enforcement that isn’t primarily about stopping or catching people trying to enter the US,” Vox explained. “In practice, that often means sending people who have lived in the US for years back to countries they haven’t seen in at least that long. Sometimes it means splitting up families or forcing US-born children to move to an unfamiliar country to keep the family together. Sometimes, it means putting people in lethal danger.”
“A single agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS, established in 1933), was responsible for overseeing both legal immigration and enforcement against unauthorized immigration — both at the border and ports of entry and in the interior of the United States,” Vox noted. But after ICE was created, “the US started deporting more immigrants than it ever had before. And for the first time, a large number of those deported were unauthorized immigrants with no criminal record, who were deported just because they were unauthorized.”