Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, and his challenger in the 25th Congressional District race, Katie Hill, have different takes on the question of how to reform U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — but both candidates say reform is a better solution than the elimination of the federal agency.
The agency came under fire recently for enforcing the separation of children and parents at the country’s border, under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.
Knight voted in favor of House Resolution 990 on July 18, which expressed support for the agency.
“I think the professional law enforcement does an exceptional job under very difficult situations,” he said. “And I think we should support them. If there is something they did that is out of bounds, then we address that individually.”
Knight said he didn’t blame any separations of families and children at the border on those working in immigration and customs, and attributed it to a policy change.
“The amount of drugs, sex trafficking and criminal activity ICE has stopped, and getting young victims back to their family, has been pretty remarkable,” he said. “I wouldn’t put (the blame for) any separations on ICE.”
Katie Hill, the Democratic Party challenger, said she believed in reform for the agency.
“I think the conversation about abolishing ICE is the wrong one to be having,” she said. “The fact that there has been separation of families is an indication of failed policy. It should be focused on keeping drug traffickers, sex traffickers and violent criminals out. We do need to develop policies and procedures for the agency so it’s not a tool for whatever president is in power.”
Knight touted sticking to reforming current immigration policy.
“This (support for ICE) does not detract from the fact that our immigration system is in need of reform,” Knight said. He cited his work in Congress finding a bipartisan solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) aid recipients, and advocacy of H.R. 6173, legislation he introduced to end separating children from their families at the border in future incidents.
Hill said that Knight’s bill, although ending separations, still detained the families at the border.
“Knight authored a bill to spend $50 million on detaining families,” she said. “Why not use that $50 million on policies that do work? The people seeking asylum aren’t the people who are dangerous criminals that ICE should be targeting.”