Senator Bernie Sanders, a contender for the Democratic nomination for President, recently released his updated and vastly expanded immigration platform. His initial plan was short on detail; however, this newly-released document takes a deeper dive and presents a set of solutions to some of the worst problems plaguing our outdated immigration system.
He states early on:
“In a Sanders Administration, a legislative solution to modernize our immigration system will be a top priority. In addition, Senator Sanders will not stand idly by waiting around for Congress to act. Instead, beginning in the first 100 days of his administration, Senator Sanders will work to take extensive executive action to accomplish what Congress has failed to do and to build upon President Obama’s executive orders.”
Sanders commits to using executive and legislative action to improve detention policies, provide status for the undocumented, combat the criminalization of immigration, and increase oversight over the immigration agencies. He states that he will:
“Dismantle inhumane deportation programs and detention centers; Pave the way for a swift and fair legislative roadmap to citizenship for the eleven million undocumented immigrants; Ensure our border remains secure while respecting local communities; Regulate the future flow of immigrants by modernizing the visa system and rewriting bad trade agreements; Enhance access to justice and reverse the criminalization of immigrants; Establish parameters for independent oversight of key U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies.”
All of the Democratic candidates have committed to expanding deferred action initiatives like DACA and the yet to be implemented DAPA program, and to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Sanders platform provides a greater level of detail on critical changes needed, including the often-overlooked immigration court system. He calls for due process reforms and better funded immigration courts. He writes:
“Expand Access to Counsel for Immigrants. Based on the constitutionally enshrined principle of habeas corpus, a Sanders Administration will increase access to legal counsel for detained immigrants. This expansion is critical in light of instances where ICE coerced large numbers of immigrants to sign their own deportation order. A Sanders Administration will vigorously implement the protection against coerced or ’unwitting deportation’ established as part of Padilla v Kentucky (2010).”
“Properly Fund Our Nation’s Immigration Courts. To ensure that our immigration system respects constitutional protections, as President Senator Sanders will work with Congress to provide additional funding and immigration judges to the Executive Office for Immigration Review and restore discretion to judges and allow them to consider the unique circumstances of an individual’s case.”
He also describes how his Administration will work to limit forcing local law enforcement’s role in immigration enforcement actions:
“Decouple Local Law Enforcement from Immigration Enforcement. In too many instances, deportation programs like the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), the 287(g) program, and the Criminal Alien Program have unjustly turned local law enforcement officials into immigration officers. Racial profiling and the criminalization of communities of color form the foundation of these deportation programs which will be eliminated under a Sanders Administration. As President, Senator Sanders will implement the recommendations of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing to “decouple federal immigration enforcement from routine local policing.”
In order to correct course on family detention and improve how we treat women and children who arrive at our borders in need of our protection, Sanders pledges to:
“End Family Detention. As President, Senator Sanders will end family detention. He will work to ensure that detention centers do not hold families and adhere to the letter and spirit of the Flores Order. The detention of families, most of which come to our country seeking protection under our laws, is an affront to the values our nation was founded upon.”
Finally, another pledge he makes casts light on the need to hold immigration enforcement agencies accountable, in particular Customs and Border Protection (CBP). He promises to:
“Hold CBP Accountable. Professionalism, accountability, and transparency at the CBP must be a central agency mission. Senator Sanders will require CBP agents to wear body cameras, make complaints public, expand training, and hold agents accountable for excessive force just like any other law enforcement agency. In addition, Senator Sanders will advance legislation supported by a bi-partisan coalition of border communities and leaders aimed at improving training, increasing accountability, and ensuring the input and consultation of border community residents. The number of deaths of civilians, including numerous U.S. citizens, by CBP is unacceptable. The CBP internal affairs office must be fully funded and staffed. Steps taken by the CBP surrounding excessive force on the southern border must be expanded and we must eliminate racial profiling, violence and prolonged detention.”
There is much more in the plan that will be analyzed and debated in the coming months. However, the Sanders platform provides a progressive and extensive policy road map that all candidates should look at and debate the merits of this Presidential campaign season.
Photo Courtesy of the Brookings Institution.
FILED UNDER: Bernie Sanders, Department of Homeland Security, featured, immigration platforms