A Republican-sponsored House of Representatives resolution in support of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was criticized as a “sham” and a “distraction” by Democratic House members from Maryland.
The measure — lauded by President Donald Trump in a tweet on Thursday morning — expresses support for “the officers and personnel who carry out the important mission of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement .” It was approved 244-35 on Wednesday.
But 133 Democrats, including Marylanders Elijah Cummings, Steny Hoyer, John Delaney, Jamie Raskin, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes, voted “present” — essentially declining to be a party to the vote.
Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, called the resolution a “sham.”
“It’s an outrageous attempt to hide the continued suffering of children behind the partisans’ attack on Democrats,” he said. “This is exactly that kind of ‘gotcha’ vote that alienates the Americans from our government. It's shameless and it's inappropriate.”
Democrats have criticized the Trump administration for separating children from parents trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration says it has been complying with a court order by reuniting migrant children and their families.
Immigration rights advocates have joined with some Democratic lawmakers in a push to abolish ICE, which enforces border control laws.
Trump tweeted on Thursday morning: “The Democrats have a death wish, in more ways than one - they actually want to abolish ICE. This should cost them heavily in the Midterms. Yesterday, the Republicans overwhelmingly passed a bill supporting ICE!”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said during debate that ICE agents “are on the front lines in the battle against crime.”
The resolution was non-binding. The only Marylander to vote for it was Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Baltimore County.
“House Republicans continue to bring items to the floor that only serve blatant partisan interests, instead of serving the interests of the American people,” said Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown, who voted “no.”
““Let me be clear — I support the men and women who carry out the lawful mission of ICE,” said Brown, a Democrat who represents parts of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties in the 4th Congressional District.
But Brown said that “no agency — ICE included, should be shielded from criticism” and that there are “legitimate questions regarding how ICE conducts its mission, and whether the agency’s enforcement priorities are truly aligned with the values of the American people.”