Pressley: "Irrevocably broken" ICE should be defunded

Amid national debate over enforcement of illegal immigration laws, Congressional candidate Ayanna Pressley on Monday called for the defunding of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, and a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

"Our immigration system is fundamentally broken and ICE's role in supporting the existing system -- including separating families seeking refuge in the United States and conducting indiscriminate deportation raids in our communities -- is creating an atmosphere of toxic fear and mistrust in immigrant communities," Pressley, a Boston City Councillor challenging U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, said in a statement.

In a press release, Pressley cited "reports of widespread sexual violence in ICE detention facilities" and "intergenerational trauma" resulting from enforcement activities as her major reasons for wanting to defund the federal agency. Calling the agency "irrevocably broken," Pressley said that if she is elected, she would work to re-house the agency's human trafficking and money laundering investigations elsewhere in the homeland security department.

President Donald Trump has aimed to curb illegal border crossings.

"The President would like to see us stop people from illegally entering the country at all," his press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Monday. "We'd like to have secure borders. The Democrats are the ones that want open borders. The President would like us to secure the borders and have a very legal and easy immigration process so people can come here the right way, not the wrong way."

Pressley said the South Bay House of Correction in Boston has a contract with ICE to serve as a detention center for immigrants targeted for deportation, and that she intends to visit the house of correction on Wednesday and outline the immigration section of her "equity agenda" later in the week.