U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, said efforts by the Trump administration to reunite children with parents who were detained along the U.S.-Mexican border have been “pathetic.”
Pocan visited the border last month. He called the current situation a “complete mess,” brought on by a lack of thought and planning.
“This is un-American,” Pocan said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” which is produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com. “It’s inhumane. It’s cruel, and we want to force Congress and the president to bring families back together.”
Pocan also defended legislation he introduced Thursday that would abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) within one year.
“The problem with ICE right now, with this president, is it’s being misused,” he said.
Pocan said President Trump has made the agency into his “personal police force, his personal deportation force.”
The Madison Democrat said ICE has been using unchecked power to terrorize communities by conducting raids at garden centers and meatpacking plants.
Pocan’s bill would convene a commission of experts to provide a roadmap for Congress to implement an immigration system that he said would uphold the dignity of all individuals.
“We’re not saying get rid of the responsibilities that they (ICE) do,” Pocan said. “What we’re saying is let’s get this done right. Let’s transfer the appropriate responsibilities that ICE does to other agencies.”
Recent polls show a majority of Americans support ICE. There have been reports that House Republicans might bring the legislation to the floor to get Democrats on record supporting the termination of the agency, which the GOP could then use as a campaign issue this fall.
Pocan said Democrats would vote against their own measure if necessary but welcomed a broader debate on immigration policy.
“If (House Speaker) Paul Ryan wants to be too cute by half, bring it on. Let us talk about this because the American people agree with us. You should not take kids away from their parents,” Pocan said.
Also joining Gousha on Sunday’s program was ABC News Political Director Rick Klein, who discussed Sen.Tammy Baldwin’s re-election prospects.
While both political parties have recently removed Baldwin’s race from their lists of “top tier” Senate races, Klein says that could change quickly.
“Wisconsin Democrats have seen this movie before,” Klein said.
“A whole lot of folks nationally and in Wisconsin thought that Russ Feingold was going to beat Ron Johnson (in 2016).”
Gousha asked Klein if the Senate race in Wisconsin might again become a top-tier race.
“It’s getting close,” he said. “There just so much fertile territory there for Republicans, and they have Democrats that they are targeting in very red states like West Virginia, North Dakota, Missouri and Montana … so Wisconsin has fallen off because of other states crowding it out.”
Financially, Baldwin is in good shape, according to Klein.
“If she ends up losing a race or it gets closer than was expected, it’s not because she was asleep at the wheel.”
Baldwin will face either Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir or Delafield businessman and Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson in the November election.
Gousha also talked about the upcoming Democratic primary for governor with Marina Dimitrijevic, director of the Wisconsin Working Families Party.
Her organization and another group, Our Wisconsin Revolution, have created a project called Wisconsin’s Choice, which seeks to narrow the eight-person field.
Forums and online polls help identify a “people’s champion.” Its four finalists are Mike McCabe, Kathleen Vinehout, Kelda Roys, and Mahlon Mitchell.
Wisconsin’s Choice will hold a final, third round of online voting in the run-up to the Aug. 14 primary. If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she would receive the Wisconsin’s Choice endorsement.
“To vote in round three, you do have to pledge 10 hours of action on behalf of a candidate,” explained Dimitrijevic.
“So, we kind of win either way. Mobilizing and inspiring folks to get active in this election”
Dimitrijevic said the Wisconsin Working Families Party would support the candidate who wins the primary, even if it is not the Wisconsin’s Choice candidate.
See more from the show: