Two western Massachusetts Democrats running for a seat in the U.S. House agree major change is needed at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. But they're declining to go so far as to say it should abolished.
Congressman Richard Neal said in a statement that he believes ICE should be "reformed, overhauled and streamlined."
"We can make common sense corrections like adding judges, targeting border patrol abuse while protecting the constitutional guarantee of due process," Neal said in a statement.
His opponent is Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Springfield attorney. She said ICE should not be "isolate[d] for abolition."
"We need to look at the entire system and rework it in a way that doesn't punish children, that doesn't separate children from their families and that respects the human rights of everybody that interacts with our government and our governmental agencies," she said.
The candidates' positions put them at odds with central Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern -- also a Democrat.
"[ICE] has become a destructive force in our communities," he said. "I think most people believe we should focus in on violent criminals and terrorists and drug dealers. And instead, ICE has been all about ripping apart families."
McGovern said he's helping draft legislation that would abolish ICE and establish a commission to explore how the nation can handle immigration enforcement more humanely.