Few things are more dangerous than a bad idea on a roll. And there is no better current example than the bandwagon of public opinion demanding that Congress abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This view, until recently limited to the radical fringes, suddenly has gone mainstream. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and other lawmakers have announced their desire to open our borders and block deportations. Two House members are preparing a bill to abolish ICE. Like the street activists pressuring them, these people believe that controlling immigration is wrong. America, they insist, is a global sanctuary, not a sovereign nation. That’s why they see President Trump, who governs as if America were a nation, as embodying evil.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is the agency guarding our borders and removing people who lack authorization to be here. Established under the reorganized former Immigration and Naturalization Service following the September 11, 2001 Islamic terrorist attacks, this agency is our primary line of defense against people from abroad who threaten our physical and economic security. Like any government agency, it sometimes falls short of its mission. But the campaign to repeal ICE is not about promoting efficiency or integrity. It is about achieving a sentimentalized ideal of human rights devoid of any understanding of the logic of nationhood.