There are five weeks until Super Tuesday, March 3. To prepare, read City on a Hill Press’s guide on the leading Democratic candidates’ views, policies and positions.
This week, read about the candidates’ records and positions on immigration.
Candidates listed either polled above 5 percent based on RealClearPolitics’ California average between Jan. 1 and 21, or participated in the Jan. 14 debate in Iowa — the last debate before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.
Bernie Sanders, 78
Senator from Vermont
Sanders’ proposal, one of the most progressive among Democratic candidates, includes halting deportations while current policies are reviewed, reuniting separated families, closing most detention centers and calling a summit of leaders from Central and South American countries to discuss the causes of migration. His plan prioritizes creating a fast pathway to citizenship for people who’ve lived here for at least five years or qualify for DACA, decriminalizing immigration and abolishing ICE and CBP. He will also strengthen immigrant labor rights by restructuring work visas and ending workplace raids.
As the son of an immigrant, Sanders has been a consistent advocate for a clear path to citizenship and an outspoken critic of Trump’s immigration policies. His decision to vote against immigration reform in 2007 due to the bill’s lack of labor protections has drawn criticism.
Joe Biden, 77
Former vice president under President Barack Obama
Biden’s administration would reverse policies that separate families, replace Trump’s asylum laws and reinstate DACA. He vows to create a clear path to citizenship and distribute more visas. To address international drivers of immigration, $4 million would be distributed to Central American governments over the course of his first term. Unlike his more progressive rivals, he does not plan to decriminalize immigration or abolish ICE.
As vice president, Biden helped create programs like DACA and DAPA, which provided relief to undocumented immigrants, and secure a $750 million aid package for Central American countries working to address the root causes of migration. He has been criticized because the Obama administration deported over 3 million people between 2008 and 2016.
Elizabeth Warren, 70
Senator from Massachusetts
Warren’s plan prioritizes expanding citizenship, decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings to prevent the separation of families, reducing migrant detention and accepting upward of 125,000 refugees annually. Through expanding DACA, those who have lived in the U.S. since they were children will be granted citizenship. While she wouldn’t abolish ICE, it would be restructured and separated from law enforcement. Warren would establish independent immigration courts, eliminate private detention centers and investigate serious violations against detained immigrants.
Warren has a clear history of supporting immigrants and refugees, demonstrated through her frequent criticism of Trump’s policies and support for a 2013 immigration reform bill.
Pete Buttigieg, 38
Mayor of South Bend, IN
Under Buttigieg, the U.S. would create a clear pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., modernize the visa system, establish independent immigration courts and expand labor protections. Though Buttigieg doesn’t support decriminalizing immigration or abolishing ICE, he would prioritize screening migrants considered a threat to public safety, end the separation of families, eliminate private detention centers and drastically reduce detention. He also plans to expand protections for asylum seekers, raise the refugee cap to 125,000 in his first year and create facilities specifically designated for housing refugees.
As mayor of South Bend, IN, he created a system to warn the Latinx population of ICE raids and established a municipal ID program that enabled undocumented immigrants to fill prescriptions and open bank accounts.
Amy Klobuchar, 59
Senator from Minnesota
Klobuchar’s reform would center on outlining a pathway to citizenship, continuing support of the DREAM Act and providing border security, a plan that she says could save the U.S. $158 billion over 10 years. She would reduce the size of detention centers while limiting ICE’s budget, end the separation of families, increase protections for child migrants and refugees and protect funding for Central American countries. She plans to expand the number of refugees the U.S. will accept to pre-Trump levels and restore asylum policies for those fleeing domestic violence.
As a Senator, Klobuchar consistently pushed for immigration reform, under the Bush administration and voting in favor of a reform bill in 2013.
Tom Steyer, 62
A Steyer administration would reinstate DACA and DAPA, establish a clear path to citizenship, decriminalize illegal border crossingws and improve on the visa system. To address Trump’s border crisis, he would end the separation of families and use of extreme detention practices while simultaneously restructuring ICE. His plan would also include legislation allowing the legal entry of climate change refugees into the U.S.
Steyer’s commitment to supporting reform is reflected in his past efforts to provide legal services to over 1,600 immigrants and refugees, aid in the renewal application process for 1,100 DACA candidates and recruit 7,100 professionals to fight for the rights of immigrants.