49 percent of voters think Trump is racist, new poll finds

Trump defends ICE as thousands gather around US to protest his immigration policy

President Donald Trump leaves the White House on Monday. Win McNamee Getty Images

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a new acting director, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced Saturday.

Many protesters held signs with the slogan at marches across the country this the weekend, and several leading Democrats echoed the grassroots catchphrase.

Some prominent Democrats, including possible 2020 contender Senator Elizabeth Warren, have joined the chorus over the agency's handling of family separations and arrests.

The new slogan, though, raises more political questions than it answers.

Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke has resisted pressure to jump on the "Abolish ICE" train, but the congressman fell short of taking the idea completely off the table during a recent interview.

Echoing her argument in an opinion piece was CNN contributor Dean Obeidallah entitled, "Abolish ICE" isn't about open borders" and suggested "all the problems with ICE emanate from one person: Trump.

Meanwhile, 50 percent of voters think the main motive for Trump's immigration policies is "a honest interest in controlling our borders", while 44 percent say the main motive is "racist beliefs".

But after massive resistance from Democrats and Republicans, religious leaders and the business community, the president relented.

Democrats who use the phrase say it doesn't mean they want no enforcement at the border at all.

"You abolish ICE now, you still have the same president", said Duckworth, adding that "there are a lot of other things we can do before we get to that point". They are tougher and smarter than these rough criminal (elements) that bad immigration laws allow into our country. Dems do not appreciate the great job they do!

Rasmussen also found that despite President Trump's efforts to toughen border enforcement, voters still think it's easier for illegal immigrants to get into the United States and stay there than in much of the rest of the world. Ragsdale was Trump's first ICE chief but was dismissed after only 10 days.

"So you have to look at the public and say they have some very definite views".

Then, in an apparent attempt to walk back its radical stance, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus circulated a memo among Capitol Hill Democrats calling not to abolish ICE but for "increasing transparency and accountability". Over the weekend, massive crowds showed up outside the West County Detention Center in Richmond, where ICE contracts with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office to detain up to 200 undocumented immigrants at a time.

"Abolish ICE" has become the new rallying cry of the left, which is trying to turn the fury Americans are feeling about the horrors at the Mexican border on the little-understood agency known as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

And the poll comes a week after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), one of the US' leading civil rights organisations, blamed Mr Trump's "xenophobic rhetoric and racist policies" for a rise in hate crimes.

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