2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is looking to make changes to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies by making the U.S. “for all,” especially those in “search of the American dream.”
“We must stand together with our immigrant friends and neighbors and stand up to President Trump’s xenophobic words and actions,” Sanders wrote on his campaign website.
“As president, [he] will reverse the actions President Trump has taken to harm our immigrant communities,” his website reads, later adding, “And he will reject the hate and divisiveness spewed by some and ensure America is a welcoming and safe nation for all. Bernie believes that love will conquer hate.”
Let’s take a look at how he wants to overturn Trump’s policies, which he says are “actions to demonize and harm immigrants.”
Reverse the rhetoric
If elected president, part of Sanders’ “day one” promises includes changing the view on the migration situation at the southern border.
While Trump has continued to push for more action from Congress on the border situation, congressional Democrats have repeatedly pushed back, slamming the situation as a “manufactured crisis.”
Trump’s calls came as the southern border saw a massive spike of migrants between March and June trying to cross into the U.S., in which border officials totaled an upward of 88% more migrant apprehensions this year from the year prior, as IJR previously reported.
However, Sanders sees the border situation differently than Trump. He writes, “There is a humanitarian crisis at the border — one that Trump has manufactured,” adding that he’ll “work to undo the damage President Trump has done to our immigrant community and our national character.”
Sanders says Trump has “used hateful and disgusting rhetoric to try to dehumanize an entire group of people, and he has used the power of the federal government to mistreat and terrorize immigrants at the border and in our communities.”
Bring the border wall construction to a halt
When it comes to Trump’s beloved border wall, Sanders wants to put a stop to that too, if he were to become president in 2020 — although Democrats have sung a different tune about border security in the past.
Under the Bush Administration, then Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), and current-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) all voted for The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which allocated funds for the border fencing. Obama said in 2006, “It would authorize some badly needed funding for better fences and better security along our borders that should help stem some of the tide of illegal immigration in this country.”
Slamming the idea of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as “racist and ineffective,” Sanders said his solution would be to “stop all construction.”
Instead, he would look to “cost-effective and innovative methods to counter the real threats of drug importation and human trafficking, not manufactured ones targeting the most vulnerable.”
The Trump administration has continued to push for more funding for the border wall, and touts its achievement to “[enhance] border security and immigration enforcement” on Trump’s 2020 campaign website in securing “$1.6 billion in border wall funding.”
Cut off Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy
Sanders would end the president’s immigration policy, “Remain in Mexico.”
Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy requires those seeking asylum to wait for their U.S. court date in Mexico — a policy that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said in October “is forcing children to live in horrific & inhuman [sic] conditions, with no access to clean water or sanitation.”
“We’ve documented 340 reports of rape, kidnapping, torture, and other violent attacks against asylum seekers in Mexico,” Human Rights First tweeted in October.
#MPP is forcing children to live in horrific & inhuman conditions; with no access to clean water or sanitation. Kids have diarrhea & are dehydrated.@humanrights1st found 1k+ families living on streets by the Matamoros port of entry because it’s too dangerous to leave the area. https://t.co/sLKkRVqIW9— Hispanic Caucus (@HispanicCaucus) October 10, 2019
Saying no to the “public charge” rule
Sanders is also looking to repeal Trump’s “public charge” rule, which makes it tougher for a migrant to get a green card if they need public assistance. In October, federal judges in Washington, New York, and California temporarily blocked the rule from starting on Oct. 15, according to NPR.
In ending the policy, Sanders says it’ll “ensure our system does not discriminate on the basis of income or disability and that immigrants do not have to fear endangering their immigration status in order to access basic supports and services.”
Additionally, Sanders wants to “pass a permanent repeal of the public charge statute, so we do not penalize immigrants who at some point may need to access support programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).”
Decriminalize illegal border crossings
The Vermont senator “believes that no human being is illegal.”
Sanders wants to repeal the federal law Section 1325, which makes it a criminal offense if a migrant enters into the U.S. unauthorized. He wants to handle illegal border crossings instead as a civil offense. This law sparked Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which Sanders looks to end.
Sanders says that this criminalization “has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, dehumanized vulnerable migrants, and swelled already-overcrowded jails and prisons.”
“By criminalizing immigration, we have worsened the effects of mass incarceration and racial disparities in our broken criminal justice system,” he added.
Sanders is also looking to provide “a swift, fair pathway to citizenship” for 11 million undocumented immigrants, who he declares “have always been part of the fabric of this nation.” His path to end this “fear and uncertainty in the undocumented community” would include providing migrants with citizenship or permanent residency within 5 years and accelerate the process for undocumented migrant children to receive citizenship.
Additionally, if elected, he would “break up” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “and redistribute their functions to their proper authorities.
Under Sanders’ plan, he also declares that he’ll address “the most critical issue of our time: climate change.” In that, he wants to “create a new program to welcome migrants displaced by climate change, and set a floor of accepting at least 50,000 climate migrants in his first year in office.”