Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) released his comprehensive immigration plan on Thursday, with calls to halt construction of the “racist and ineffective” wall, freeze deportations, and extend entitlement benefits to illegal immigrants.
This signals the open borders lobby has, in recent months, impacted his positions on immigration.
Sanders vows to “overturn all of President Trump’s actions to demonize and harm immigrants on the first day of his presidency” and offers a list featuring a general overview of the reforms he hopes to enact – reforms which include many positions the open borders lobby welcomes:
We're going to overturn everything Trump has done to demonize immigrants. We will:
✅End family separation and reunify families
✅End ICE raids
✅Put a moratorium on deportations
✅Restore and expand DACA
✅Decriminalize and demilitarize the border
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 7, 2019
He calls to end the construction of what he considers the “racist and ineffective wall on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” place a moratorium on deportations until the completion of a comprehensive audit, expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),
and overturn the Trump administration’s travel restrictions against terrorist-laden countries which were outlined by the Obama administration. Additionally, Sanders aims to empower sanctuary cities, signaling his intention to instruct the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “drop any litigation or funding restrictions relating to sanctuary cities.”
The socialist senator also proposes amnesty, promising to “enact a swift, fair pathway to citizenship” for the 11-22 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States. That proposal includes “expedited citizenship for undocumented youth.”
Another massive part of Sanders’ proposal involves “decriminalizing” border crossings, making it a civil offense and calling its criminal status “morally wrong.” On that front, Sanders also proposes the creation of a “$14 billion federal grant program for indigent defense,” to “ensure due process” for illegal immigrants.
His plan states:
The criminalization of immigrants has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, dehumanized vulnerable migrants, and swelled already-overcrowded jails and prisons. Decades of unaccountable funding for militarizing our border has created a dangerous situation that has led to thousands of deaths along the border and at least seven children have died in the custody of the United States since last year. Bernie believes this is unacceptable.
By criminalizing immigration, we have worsened the effects of mass incarceration and racial disparities in our broken criminal justice system. Black immigrants make up 5 percent of the undocumented population but account for 20 percent of those facing removal on criminal grounds. Tying local law enforcement to immigration enforcement perpetuates racial biases in policing, where black and brown people are stopped, harassed, and arrested at higher rates than white people. We must decouple local law enforcement and immigration, leaving the proper authorities to carry out their respective missions.
Sanders expresses his intention to extend his overwhelmingly expensive domestic policies, such as Medicare for All and “free” college, to illegal immigrants. He also vows to enact Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) Embrace Act, which is part of her “A Just Society” package. The Embrace Act essentially expands entitlement benefits to illegal immigrants, ensuring that “all persons in need are eligible for the largest programs of the social safety net, regardless of their immigration status.”
Sanders’ plan states he will “take bold and necessary executive action” to institute his immigration reforms if Congress does not act swiftly.
The presidential hopeful’s plan stands in contrast to the position he held during the last election cycle. He has long called for “comprehensive immigration reform” while claiming to be an opponent of open borders and made waves in 2015 after calling open borders a “Koch brothers proposal” that would “make everybody in America poorer.”
He said during an interview with Vox:
What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs. You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?
I think from a moral responsibility we’ve got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don’t do that by making people in this country even poorer.
Sanders even corrected an audience member at a campaign stop in Iowa in April after the individual suggested Sanders supported an open borders immigration policy.
“I’m afraid you may be getting your information wrong. That’s not my view,” Sanders stated. “What we need is comprehensive immigration reform.”
“If you open the borders, my god, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world,” he continued. “And I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it. So that is not my position”:
Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigns in Oskaloosa, IA: "If you open the borders, there's a lot of poverty in this world, and you're going to have people from all over the world. And I don't think that's something that we can do at this point. Can't do it." pic.twitter.com/INF9GopzIe
— The Hill (@thehill) April 7, 2019