Community Leaders Meet With Congressional Candidate Ayanna Pressley Amid Calls to Defund ICE

Community leaders who Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley spoke with Tuesday in Everett, Massachusetts, say they are fully behind a proposal to defund the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The leaders say ICE has become a source of constant mental and emotional distress for many in the immigrant community -- and that the country needs a new and better system.

"I don't understand why a 9-year-old is still in detention when his mother has been released," said Matalicia Tracy of the Brazilian Worker Center.

"It feels like there's a domestic terrorist in the White House right now and we don't know where we're going to get hit next," added Keri Rodrigues of Massachusetts Parents United.

Pressley says she's long heard similar feedback from residents of Massachusetts' 7th District, where she is challenging fellow Democrat Michael Capuano for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She says she'd support a bill, sponsored by Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan, calling for the abolition of ICE.

Pressley says the bill calls for "establishing a commission that would make recommendations on how to get to a place of comprehensive immigration reform that is also compassionate and considering our national security and not separating families."

Pressley says she would work with federal leaders to re-house the non-immigration functions of ICE, including human trafficking and money laundering, but would immediately eliminate funding for ICE enforcement and removal functions.

Those actions get the full support of Rodrigues, who received a large folder in the mail Monday from her business partner, an immigrant.

"She was going on vacation and she just wanted me to have certified copies of all of their birth certificates, all of their information, just in case Donald Trump did something crazy while she was on vacation," she said.

Some immigration experts agree that ICE needs to go, while others say it is irresponsible even to suggest getting rid of ICE, a huge organization that the country needs for security and to uphold the law.

Capuano did not respond to a request for comment about whether he supports abolishing ICE, as well.

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