MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The race to fill the congressional seat held by the retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is shaping up to be quite expensive.READ MORE: US Coast Guard Searches For Missing Swimmer In Miami Beach
The five democratic candidates squared off in a debate Thursday night in Coconut Grove for the seat in congressional district 27.
A large crowd was on hand at Saint Stephens Church to watch everything go down.
The candidates: Matt Haggman- former director at the Knight Foundation. Donna Shalala-former president, University of Miami. Current state legislator David Richardson, former Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, and Michael Hepburn, vice president of a nonprofit.
Each candidate laid out views on health care, the environment, the economy and immigration.
A hot immigration issue: many democrats propose to abolish ice.READ MORE: Child Dead After Being Struck By a Car in Hollywood
“ICE was set up to target people threatening national security,” said Haggman. “It’s now rounding up people who are just trying to make an honest living. This is not who we are. We should stand up against this.”
“There are twenty thousand employees of ICE,” added Donna Shalala. “I do not want them to lose their job but I do want to get rid of the political leadership and get rick of the policies that are unacceptable in this country.”
Hepburn suggests immigration should be placed under a new agency.
“We want to create a department of citizens, immigration and refugees so in order to push that policy forward, ICE is going to be totally rebranded,” he said.
Hepburn wasn’t alone in that belief.
“People want to abolish ICE because ICE has become some type of Gestapo, separating children,” said Rosen Gonzalez. “We need to re-brand ICE.”MORE NEWS: Demolition Begins At Palm Beach Mansion Formerly Owned By Jeffrey Epstein
“I am not suggesting that we should not have any enforcement process within our borders,” Richardson said. “We need that. It needs to be restructured and take the politics out of the process and stop using military style tactics.”