Q88: Do you have a plan to enact a fair, humane and workable immigration system?
Biden: Yes. Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants. The next president will need to take urgent action to end the Trump Administration’s draconian policies, grounded in fear and racism rather than fact, work to heal the wounds inflicted on immigrant communities, and restore America’s moral leadership.
I will commit significant political capital to finally deliver legislative immigration reform to ensure that the U.S. remains open and welcoming to people from every part of the world–and to bring hardworking people who have enriched our communities and our country, in some cases for decades, out of the shadows. This is not just of concern to Latino communities, this touches families of every heritage and background. There are approximately 1.7 million undocumented immigrants from Asia in the U.S., as well as hundreds of thousands from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean. I will immediately send legislation to Congress to modernize our immigration system, with a priority on keeping families together by providing a roadmap to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants; growing our economy and expanding economic opportunity across the country by improving and increasing opportunities for legal immigration; and preserve the longstanding directive of our immigration system to reunite families and enhance our diversity.
I will aggressively advocate for legislation that creates a clear roadmap to legal status and citizenship for unauthorized immigrants who register, are up to date on their taxes, and have passed a background check. I will also immediately remove the uncertainty for Dreamers by reinstating the DACA program and explore all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation while working to pass legislative reform. Furthermore, I will protect Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders from being returned to countries that are unsafe. TPS/DED holders who have been in the country for an extended period of time and built lives in the U.S. will also be offered a path to citizenship through legislative immigration reform.
Additionally, I will end Trump’s detrimental asylum policies, starting with the Migrant Protection Protocols, and restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do–protect people fleeing persecution and who cannot return home safely. To restore our ability to rally the world, uphold our cherished democratic values, and firmly reject Trump’s nativist rhetoric and actions, I will set the annual global refugee admissions cap to 125,000 to start, and seek to raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need.
View details of my comprehensive plan to reform our immigration system HERE.
Bloomberg: Yes. As the grandson of immigrants, Mike understands that immigration has been and always will be one of America’s greatest strengths. His plan focuses on reclaiming America’s role as the beacon of opportunity for people around the world and tapping into the dedication and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants to grow our economy and enrich our communities.
Buttigeig: Yes. Common sense immigration reform must include a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living, working, paying taxes, and contributing to our American story, including DREAMers; resources to end the backlogs in our lawful immigration and asylum processes; and reasonable security measures at the border. Most Americans support such a package, and it is long past time for Washington to deliver. We also need to address the structural reasons that our immigration system has not worked and has not reflected the values of the majority of Americans. That is why I am proposing we remove CBP’s role in detaining immigrants, and instead having the Department of Health and Human Services in charge of border processing facilities. The safety of all people, including migrants, will be their number one priority.
De La Fuente: Yes. Comprehensive reform to current and previous policies under both Trump and Obama needs to be addressed. We can maintain secure borders without abandoning the values upon which this great nation was founded. We must first acknowledge that there is a problem. The current approach is Anti-American. We have a labor shortage. There are people who want jobs. Let’s match them up for overall economic prosperity.
Klobuchar: Yes. Senator Klobuchar supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes an accountable pathway to earned citizenship. While she jump-starts negotiations for comprehensive immigration reform with the stated goal of passing it within the first year, Senator Klobuchar will undo attempts by the Trump Administration — many of which have been blocked by courts — to deport DREAMers and immigrants who are living, working and succeeding here under Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforcement Departure. She will also immediately direct the State Department to restore the cap on the number of refugees that can be resettled in the United States to at least its pre-Trump Administration level.
Sanders: Yes. Bernie supports a family-based immigration system grounded in civil and human rights. Bernie believes we must stand up for our values and accept refugees, asylum-seekers, and families who come to the United States in search of the American Dream. This is how America was built and it has made our country strong.
As president, Bernie will reverse the actions President Trump has taken to harm our immigrant communities. Bernie will come together and stand in solidarity with our immigrant neighbors, friends, classmates, and colleagues and create an America that works for all. And he will reject the hate and divisiveness spewed by some and ensure America is a welcoming and safe nation for all.
Steyer: Yes. Seeking asylum in the United States is legal — and the story of asylum is woven into the origins of our country. When the most vulnerable reach the U.S. seeking safety and shelter, we have the opportunity to showcase the best of our humanity. I will institute a robust case management system in which asylees may enter the U.S., remain in safety while their asylum case is being processed, and are able to obtain temporary work permits so they can productively fulfill their family’s needs while waiting for this claim. And I will increase financial and staff resources for processing asylum cases.
The review process for families seeking asylum also takes far too long. The majority of asylum seekers pose little risk to public safety and can be released as they await their hearings. It is inhumane that anyone — and especially children — are being caged like animals. I would also eliminate the use of family detention centers and end child separation policies. Holding families indefinitely without due process is a violation of human rights.
Warren: Yes. I have a plan to create big structural change in our immigration system: to create a fair immigration system that preserves our security, grows our economy, and reflects our values. One that’s good for immigrants, good for workers, and ultimately good for the United States. I have proposed to decriminalize migration and refocus enforcement on serious criminal activity. Entering the country without authorization will continue to be a violation of civil immigration law, but we will not take children away from their parents or lock them in cages. I will significantly reduce immigration detention by limiting its use only to those situations where it is actually necessary because an individual poses a flight or safety risk. Instead, I’ll expand community-based alternatives to detention, which are safer, save money, and can be more effective at ensuring compliance. I’ll enforce strict standards for remaining detention facilities, including for medical care and to end the use of solitary confinement, and I will end ICE contracts with private detention providers. And I’ll remake ICE from top to bottom, in a way that reflects our values — focusing its efforts on homeland security, insisting that it follow the same due process standards as other federal law enforcement agencies, and holding accountable anyone who abuses immigrants. Our laws and our values compel us to help those fleeing violence and oppression. I’ll reject exclusionary policies based on race, religion, and nationality, including by reversing Trump’s bigoted Muslim Ban on my first day in office. I’ll reinstate Temporary Protected Status designations and Deferred Enforced Departure to protect individuals at risk in their home countries. I’ll raise the refugee cap to welcome 175,000 refugees per year by the end of my first term, and I’ll affirm asylum protections for those fleeing violence, including by ending the metering and “Remain in Mexico” policies. I’ll also withdraw Trump’s proposed policy that forces immigrant families to choose between accessing critical health services and staying together with their children, many of whom are American citizens. I will reinstate the DACA program and protections for our Dreamers and their families, and expand the program to cover more young people by extending the cut-off date, eliminating the arbitrary application age requirement, and extending the “minor” designation to anyone who was brought to the U.S. under the age of 18. But Dreamers have families and communities that are productive, longtime members of our American family and need protection too. I’ll extend the individual exercise of discretion to offer deferred action protections to hardworking immigrants who have contributed to our country for years and have built careers and families here, while pushing for a far-reaching legislative fix that provides a fair but achievable path to citizenship for them. I support additional legal immigration—to expand family reunification and make it easier for relatives of citizens and green card holders to come to the United States; and to grow our economy, paired with real accountability on employers who exploit workers or don’t adhere to basic labor standards. You can read more about my plan here: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/immigration
Q89: Black immigrants are detained at a higher rate than their presence in the population. They also make up a large part of the nation’s workforce that includes
those that are undocumented. Do you have a plan to address our nation’s immigration system to allow over 11 million undocumented individuals to adjust their status?
Biden: Yes. As president, I will immediately send legislation to Congress that creates a roadmap to citizenship for the nearly 11 million people who have been living in and strengthening our country for years. These are our mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. They are our neighbors, co-workers, and members of our congregations and Little League teams. They contribute in countless ways to our communities, workforce, and economy. I will expend significant political capital to finally deliver legislation that creates a clear roadmap to legal status and citizenship for unauthorized immigrants who register, are up-to-date on their taxes, and have passed a background check.
I will also send ICE back to school and restore sensible enforcement priorities. Targeting people who have never been convicted of a serious criminal offense and who have lived, worked, and contributed to our economy and our communities for decades is the definition of counterproductive. I will end workplace raids to ensure that threats based on workers’ status do not interfere with their ability to organize and improve their wages and working conditions and protect sensitive locations from immigration enforcement actions. No one should be afraid to seek medical attention, go to school, their job, or their place of worship for fear of an immigration enforcement action.
And, I will streamline and improve the naturalization process to make it more accessible to qualified green card holders. The Trump Administration has made it far too difficult for qualifying green card holders to obtain citizenship. Quite simply, this is wrong. I will restore faith in the citizenship process by removing roadblocks to naturalization and obtaining the right to vote, addressing the application backlog by prioritizing the adjudication workstream and ensuring applications are processed quickly, and rejecting the imposition of unreasonable fees.
View details of my comprehensive plan to reform our immigration system HERE.
Bloomberg: Yes. Mike will restore fairness, transparency and accountability to the U.S. immigration system by creating an earned pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented.
Buttigeig: Yes. We must create a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented people living here, as well as institute temporary protections for Dreamers, parents of Dreamers, and TPS and DED holders while we wait for legislation to pass. That we have not yet gotten this done shows us how broken our democracy is. That is why my first priority is to fix our democracy. After that, we can pass legislation that affects the will of the American people, who widely support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are already part of communities. Additionally, I propose that we dramatically reduce immigration detention, which was never meant to be punitive, so that it is only used in extremely limited circumstances and that vulnerable populations, including LGBTQ+ people, pregnant women, and children, are safe and cared for.
De La Fuente: Yes.
Klobuchar: Yes. As President, Senator Klobuchar will jump-start negotiations for comprehensive immigration reform — which includes a pathway to citizenship, the DREAM Act and border security — with the stated goal of passing it in the first year of her presidency.
Sanders: Yes. Our undocumented friends and neighbors have always been part of the fabric of this nation. They are in our communities, in our schools, working in our stores, homes, and fields, and striving to make a better life for themselves and their families.
The American people overwhelmingly support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals living in the United States. They believe that immigrants make this country stronger and contribute to the economy. Bernie believes that it is not a radical idea to enact the will of the people when in office.
Bernie will push Congress to enact a swift, fair pathway to citizenship that minimizes arbitrary cutoffs, fees, wait times, and does not automatically disqualify immigrants for low-level contacts with the criminal justice system.
He will also restore and expand DACA and use advance parole, parole in place, and hardship waivers to remove barriers to legal status and citizenship for as many undocumented immigrants as possible.
Steyer: Yes. The 10.5 – 12 million undocumented Americans are an important part of our society and integral to our country’s economic engine. They are our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family. They were children adopted into American families and they are the parents of U.S. citizens. Yet despite this, politicians in Washington, D.C. have failed to do right for them or for our nation by recognizing their contributions and presence. This is unconscionable.
As President, I will work closely with Congress to establish a fair, equitable, and expedited pathway to citizenship. On day one of my presidency I will reinstate and extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), including Advance Parole for DACA recipients, and enact Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), ensuring that the millions who rely on those programs will be able to live their lives openly in our workplaces, classrooms, and communities. I will end the racist Muslim ban. And I will redesignate nations under a revitalized Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program to ensure those from nations fleeing war or natural disaster can rebuild their lives without fear. And last, I will work toward a pathway to permanent residency for those within these programs.
Warren: Yes. As president, I’ll take executive action to provide a measure of protection for immigrants who are here undocumented, while pursuing a legislative solution that provides a path to citizenship. I’ll reinstate Temporary Protected Status designations and Deferred Enforced Departure to protect individuals at risk in their home countries, including migrants from the Caribbean and Africa who have built lives and businesses in our country. We should immediately reinstate the DACA program and protections for our Dreamers and their families. I’ll expand the program to cover more young people by extending the cut-off date, eliminating the arbitrary application age requirement, and extending the “minor” designation to anyone who was brought to the U.S. under the age of 18. But Dreamers have families and communities that are productive, longtime members of our American family and need protection too. The same is true of the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders. I’ll extend the individual exercise of discretion to offer deferred action protections to hardworking immigrants who have contributed to our country for years and have built careers and families here. And I’ll push for a far-reaching legislative fix that provides a fair but achievable path to citizenship for them.
Q90: We have seen a rise in the detention, deportations and deaths of immigrants of all races, including Black and Latino immigrant adults and children. If elected,
how will you address these issues?
Biden: It is a moral failing and a national shame when a father and his baby daughter drown seeking our shores. When children are locked away in overcrowded detention centers and the government seeks to keep them there indefinitely. When our government argues in court against giving those children toothbrushes and soap. When President Trump uses family separation as a weapon against desperate mothers, fathers, and children seeking safety and abetter life. When he threatens massive raids that would break up families who have been in this country for years and targets people at sensitive locations like hospitals and schools. When children die while in custody due to lack of adequate care. It’s wrong, and it stops when I am elected president.
I will end the mismanagement of the asylum system, including Trump’s Migrant Protections Protocols and “metering” policies, which are fueling violence and chaos at the border. I will direct the necessary resources to ensure asylum applications are processed fairly and efficiently, while treating families and children with compassion and sensitivity. And I will dramatically increase U.S. government resources to support migrants awaiting assessment of their asylum claims and to the organizations providing for their needs.
I will end the use of for-profit detention centers for asylum-seekers and undocumented people. Most critically, I will end prolonged detention of asylum-seekers. Proven alternatives to detention and non-profit case management programs, which support migrants as they navigate their legal obligations, are the best way to ensure that they attend all required immigration appointments while enabling migrants to live in dignity and safety. Evidence shows that these programs are highly effective and are far less expensive and punitive than detaining families. I will codify protections to safeguard children to make sure their treatment is consistent with their best interest and invest in community-based case management programs, including those supported by faith-based organizations such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, to move migrants into safe environments as quickly as possible.
Bloomberg: Under Trump, immigrant detention has reached an all-time high, with most of the growth attributable to immigrants who have no criminal convictions. Mike will end for-profit and prolonged detention of children and families and invest in community-based alternatives to detention.
Buttigeig: I will reinstate a humane enforcement policy at the border. I will end family separation, the disastrous Remain in Mexico and metering programs, expedite reunification of those families who remain separated, and end for-profit detention. I will expand the availability of bond and other tools to dramatically reduce immigration detention–including the Family Case Management Program, push for settlements in lawsuits involving victims of Trump’s abusive immigration policies, and re-engage with regional partners on solutions to the humanitarian crises in Central America and Venezuela.
I’m also proposing that, upon first arrival at the border, asylum seekers and other migrants will be sent to Health and Human Services (HHS)-run facilities rather than CBP processing centers. These facilities will be maintained by personnel trained in health, trauma- informed care, and emergency aid; be equipped for overnight accommodations; and prioritize safety of the migrants.
De La Fuente: Comprehensive reform to current and previous policies under both Trump and Obama need to be addressed. We can maintain secure borders without abandoning the values upon which this great nation was founded. We must first acknowledge that there is a problem. The current approach is Anti-American. We have a labor shortage. There are people who want jobs. Let’s match them up for overall economic prosperity.
As President, Senator Klobuchar will end the for-profit detention of asylum seekers and reduce the size of the immigration detention system, limit ICE’s detention budget and expand alternatives to detention and the successful Family Case Management Program.
Klobuchar: As President, Senator Klobuchar will end the for-profit detention of asylum seekers and reduce the size of the immigration detention system, limit ICE’s detention budget and expand alternatives to detention and the successful Family Case Management Program.
She will also shift funding from ICE’s enforcement and removal operations to support services for children seeking asylum and anti- trafficking programs, increase funding for immigration judges and support personnel to more effectively process cases and reassess the current bond system for immigration courts.
Sanders: When Bernie is president, he will decriminalize and demilitarize the border, close private detention centers, and establish a humane review process for those who are currently arriving at the border under civil proceedings.
He will place a moratorium on deportations until a full audit of past practices and policies is complete and end the ICE raids terrorizing immigrant communities.
We will ensure migrants due process at the border, fully fund and staff independent immigration courts to eliminate the case backlog, ensure immigrants a right to counsel, end cash bail, and ensure all immigrants get a fair day in court.
We will ensure all personnel at the border handling the intake of immigrants are trained for a humanitarian mission, and ensure all facilities used to temporarily house immigrants meet strict standards with access to medical treatment, legal counsel, educational opportunities, and hygienic conditions.
Bernie will work with Congress to pass the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal to fundamentally reform our immigration detention system by:
- Ending contracts with private immigrant detention centers.
- Virtually eliminating immigrant detention by requiring a “presumption of release” standard for determining detention, and ensuring that a past criminal conviction cannot be the sole deciding factor in detention.
- Requiring release on recognizance or alternatives to detention for vulnerable persons — including children, pregnant individuals, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, and asylum seekers — and caregivers.
- Authorizing and funding community-based alternatives to detention, which will connect migrants with health, legal, educational, and work resources.
- Mandating all detention facilities meet standards in line with the American Bar Association’s Civil Immigration Detention Standards.
- Mandating routine inspections and enforceable penalties for facilities not up to standards.
- Requiring immediate notification and a mandatory investigation of any deaths in custody of immigration officials.
- Creating a cause of action for migrants mistreated or harmed in custody.
Steyer: End family separation and cruel detention policies. On our southern border, we are witnessing cruel acts perpetrated by our own government. A Steyer Administration will end family separation and incarceration, immediately respect the Flores Agreement that sets strict restrictions on the detention of minors, end the shackling of pregnant women, and work to ensure a fair and speedy process for immigrants and refugees arriving at the border. I know that there should be no profit motive in the incarceration or deportation of any person and will abolish private prisons and detention centers.
Reform interior enforcement so that communities can live without fear. A Steyer Administration will decriminalize border crossings and will process those who cross without inspection under civil, not criminal, law. In addition, Steyer’s Administration will only use forcible deportation as a tool of last resort, as with those convicted of violent felony crimes. Programs that deputize and militarize local police to aid in immigration enforcement harm community relationships and put immigrant communities and families at risk. I will end ICE detainers, 287(g), and Secure Communities programs, including all local prison contracts with ICE, so that local law enforcement can focus on community safety. A Steyer Administration will place limits upon interior enforcement, including ensuring that enforcement does not target sensitive locations such as churches, schools, courthouses, and hospitals, so that no one fears to access vital community services. I will stop worksite raids, including a stop to ICE interference in labor disputes.
Warren: Yes. When ICE agents come into our communities to separate families and deport our neighbors, friends and family members, that does not keep us safe. Donald Trump has pushed the immigration system to its most punitive end, and like countless Americans, I have been deeply concerned by how our government has carried out immigration policy under his watch. As president, I want to make sure our system and processes live up to our best values. In my first 100 days in office, I commit to review all cases pending in deportation proceedings — and while this thorough review occurs, I will put deportations on hold as we work to ensure the system and agencies reflect the vision I have laid out in my immigration plan.
As president, I am committed to eliminating private detention and significantly reducing immigration detention and the detention budget. There should be no place in America for profiting off putting more people behind bars or in detention. I will end all contracts that the Bureau of Prisons, ICE, and the U.S. Marshals Service have with private detention providers, and extend these bans to states and localities by conditioning their receipt of federal public safety funding on their use of public facilities.
I’ll issue guidance ensuring that detention is only used where it is actually necessary because an individual poses a flight or safety risk. I will put additional layers of protection in place for certain groups, including asylum seekers, families and pregnant women, and LGBTQ+ people who are more vulnerable in a general detention facility. And I’ll enforce strict standards for any remaining detention facilities, including for medical care and to end the use of solitary confinement.
DHS has broad authority to parole individuals who are detained prior to their cases being heard in immigration court. I’ll expand the executive use of parole and invest in alternatives-to-detention. Community-based alternatives are safer, save money, and can be more effective at ensuring compliance. I’ll significantly expand successful programs, which include case management, referrals to legal and social services, and periodic check-ins and surveillance. These programs provide a measure of dignity for those in the system, and their expanded use would save over a billion dollars each year in unnecessary detention costs.
Lastly, while President Trump and his administration are comfortable looking the other way while criminal abuses of immigrants pile up, I am not. When I am president, I will not. I’ll designate a Justice Department task force to investigate accusations of serious violations—including medical neglect and physical and sexual assaults of detained immigrants—and give it independent authority to pursue any substantiated criminal allegations. Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren administration will hold you accountable.
Q91: If elected to office, will you immediately put a funding and physical halt to the construction of the wall on the border between Mexico and the United States?
Biden: Yes. I will immediately end the so-called National Emergency that siphons federal dollars from the Department of Defense to build a wall. Building a wall will do little to deter criminals and cartels seeking to exploit our borders. Instead of stealing resources from schools for military children and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, I will direct federal resources to smart border enforcement efforts, like investments in improving screening infrastructure at our ports of entry, that will actually keep America safer.
Bloomberg: Yes. Mike will place a moratorium on border wall construction and divert resources to smart, effective security measures.
Buttigeig: Yes. I’m with the many security and border experts who say a multi-billion-dollar wall from sea to shining sea is no answer to strengthening our national security either externally or internally. Border security that truly addresses our national needs must be a combination of technological, physical and human resources, and we must base spending on border structures based on where and how that best fits in to a holistic approach – not on presidential bombast.
De La Fuente: Yes.
Klobuchar: Yes. Senator Klobuchar opposes President Trump’s border wall. She supports paying for border security as part of comprehensive immigration reform and she believes that comprehensive reforms and implementing a policy to allow asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle countries to seek asylum in their home countries could result in a decrease in some of the funding necessary for the border. As President, Senator Klobuchar will stop the diversion of funds needed to modernize our military bases from being used for the border wall. Senator Klobuchar will rescind President Trump’s national emergency declaration and return funding for its intended purpose.
Sanders: Yes. As President, Bernie will stop all construction of the racist and ineffective wall on the U.S.-Mexico Border and instead rely on cost-effective and innovative methods to counter the real threats of drug importation and human trafficking, not manufactured ones targeting the most vulnerable.
Steyer: Yes. The people of the United States have a right to safe and secure borders, and to protect this right I will ensure the continuation of critical border security operations. We must have a presence at our borders, as much to help those who seek refuge in our country to prevent entry to those who would do us harm. As president, I will upgrade ports of entry, smartly screen containers and freight, and stop traffickers from moving drugs, guns and people they seek to extort and abuse. And I will ensure strong accountability and transparency at CBP. We don’t have to trade border security for compassion — it’s un-American and ineffective. We can have a secure border that is still open for commerce, travel, and legal immigration.
Warren: Yes. President Trump’s border wall is a monument to hate and division. I support smart border security, but building new walls doesn’t make Americans safer.