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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman October 22, 2018

Katie Porter has called for immigration reform, but not to abolish ICE

U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters connected her challenger Katie Porter to Democrats who have voiced support for abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE.

But how true is Walters’ attack?

The mailer from Walters to residents of California’s 45th Congressional District claims the "press has reported that Katie Porter is part of a radical group of Democrats running for Congress" and says she has an "extreme agenda" that supports abolishing ICE.

It goes on to criticize Porter for supporting sanctuary city laws and that she wants free college and Medicare for illegal immigrants.

For the purposes of this fact-check, we focused on the claim that Porter’s agenda includes abolishing ICE.

It actually doesn’t.

What media reports is the mailer referring to?

The Walters campaign told us that the ICE charge comes from a McClatchy DC bureau article from Sept. 14. But the news story doesn’t back up the mailer’s claim.

McClatchy reported that Porter is part of a "battery" of "even more liberal" candidates pushing for single-payer health care and abolishing ICE.

The original version of the article had a sentence that said Porter and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York have both "pushed the ideological envelope for the party’s progressive wing, even popularizing once-radical positions like single-payer health care or abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency." This line was featured on the mailer.

However, that reference was updated and clarified in the story three days later. (We spoke with McClatchy reporter Alex Roarty, who confirmed the change.)

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The section now reads that the candidates have "pushed the ideological envelope for the party’s progressive wing. Porter has embraced the once-radical position of single-payer health care while Ocasio-Cortez supports abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency."

Perhaps a minor alteration in the story, but it’s a big hit on the accuracy of the mailer’s claim that Porter wants to abolish ICE.

What Katie Porter has said about ICE

Democrats have argued in the past that ICE, which formed in the aftermath of 9/11, needs to be abolished to prevent mistreatment of undocumented immigrants. But the notion gained new life over the summer amid stories of migrant children being separated from their families at the U.S. border.

Porter’s campaign said she does not want to abolish ICE. We did not find evidence that she has called for ending the agency like some other candidates.

The campaign pointed us to a Mercury News article from August.

The story discusses how none of the Democrats running in the 10 most competitive House races in California support dissolving the agency, citing a survey of the candidates.

It then lists each candidate’s comments on ICE, and quotes Porter saying that the immigration agency "should be focused on its core public safety mission, not targeting families. The real issue here is the failure of Donald Trump’s leadership."

On her campaign website, Porter says that she believes the U.S. needs immigration reform "that will provide a fair pathway to citizenship for those who are undocumented."

Our ruling

Walters claimed that Porter has an extreme liberal agenda that supports abolishing ICE.

The mailer relies on a news article that said she supports such actions, but that piece has since been updated, stopping short of saying the Democrat wants to do away with the agency and mentioning her position for single-payer health care instead.

We also found comments from Porter expressing frustration with the agency, and that she supports changes to it, but not dissolving it completely.

The claim is inaccurate, so we rate it False.

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PolitiFact rating logo PolitiFact Rating:
Says Katie Porter is part of a “radical group of Democrats with an extreme agenda to abolish ICE.”
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Our Sources

Mimi Walters campaign mailer, received Sept. 25, 2018

McClatchy D.C., "Why even moderate Democrats are moving left and changing what it means to be centrist," Sept. 14, 2018, Updated Sept. 17 2018

Mercury News, "Abolish ICE: Why California Dems aren’t joining the new progressive rallying cry," Aug. 8, 2018.

Katie Porter Campaign Website, "Issues," Accessed Oct. 19, 2018

Email interview with Luis Vizcaino Katie Porter campaign spokesman, Oct. 18-19 2018.

Email interview with Mimi Walters campaign, Oct. 19, 2018

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Katie Porter has called for immigration reform, but not to abolish ICE

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