During the Monday news conference, Wisconsin's Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan told reporters that rather than tackling immigration matters, caucus members would be shifting their attention to other issues.
"We are absolutely still going to be pressing that," Pocan said. "However, I think our main goal of getting out of the gate is going to be the issues that we ran on across all districts — around healthcare, around good-paying jobs, around dealing with the culture of corruption."
"I still think many of us still have issues of immigration reform as a very, very high priority," he added. Pocan was one of many politicians, including Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who sided with the grassroots movement.
ICE is an acronym for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency under the US Department of Homeland Security that is tasked with the enforcement of US immigration laws. The agency was formed in March 2003, picking up where the dissolved Immigration and Naturalization Service left off. "Abolish ICE" was first popularized by writer Sean McElwee in response to the constant raids that have been carried out by authorities, and ultimately became a rallying cry during the 2018 election cycle.
Gutiérrez told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Monday that the decision to push immigration issues aside doesn't "bode well for the struggle of immigrant rights in this country."
"How [the Congressional Progressive Caucus] decided to deal with that question seems to indicate to me that the ‘Abolish ICE' slogan was nothing more than ephemeral, temporary and very opportunistic, because it came from the grassroots, and the Democratic Party was desperate to take back the House [of Representatives] to materialize this so-called ‘blue wave,'" Gutiérrez told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.
"Now that that has happened… we're going back to business as usual."
Reflecting on Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-WA) recent remarks that legislation she introduced earlier this year wasn't intended to abolish the immigration agency, Gutiérrez told Kiriakou that the 53-year-old's comments were part of a tactic "politicians use to weasel their way out of what appear to be at first firm political commitments with regards to specific constituencies."
"This demagoguery that people across the country are getting sick and tired of by our politicians, including so called ‘progressive politicians,' is real," he said. "We deeply resent the progressive politicians… they say one thing, and then once elections are over they continue to do the same thing that all types of politicians have been doing."
"It's cause for great concern that these new generations of democratic, progressive Democrats, cannot muster the courage to have the political spine to stand by… political principles," he concluded.