Screenshot: CNN

On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Sen. Bernie Sanders a simple and reasonable question: Does he favor abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency? Here’s what Sanders said:

I think that what we need is to create policies which deal with immigration in a rational way. And a rational way is not locking children up in detention centers or separating them from their mothers. What we need is Trump to sit down with members of Congress and work on a rational program which deals with this serious issue.

Respectfully, senator, what the fuck kind of nonsense answer is this?

This is how you’re gonna play this one right now, Bernie? We are at a moment when the cruelty and inhumanity of the entire immigration system—let alone ICE—is on trial, and growing numbers of politicians are hopping on the abolish ICE bandwagon. Merely calling for ICE—an organization, lest we forget, that is just 15 years old—to be abolished should be the moderate, default position for any self-respecting “progressive,” let alone someone attempting to be a leader of the left in America. Sanders’ possible 2020 rival, Sen. Kamala Harris, is creeping up to an anti-ICE position. Sanders voted against ICE even being created, but he apparently cannot now bring himself to support its end. He’s still out here fully avoiding one of the most basic and fundamental public policy questions of the day, and resorting to some vague platitudes about working with Donald Trump to solve problems. Come on man!

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On Sunday night, writer and ICE abolition proponent Sean McElwee told my colleague Paul Blest that he thinks Sanders and the rest of the presumed 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will come around eventually. He may be right, but for that to happen, they have to understand that the sort of wishy-washy pablum Sanders was trying to push on CNN is not acceptable. Tapper had no apparent follow-up to Sanders’ answer. Let’s hope that the next person who gets the chance asks him why he is still taking such a weak and morally timid position on ICE.