Bernie Sanders has vowed to bring sweeping reforms to the U.S.’s immigration system if elected president in 2020, with the release of a bold immigration plan released on Thursday.
As U.S. president, Sanders has pledged to “break up” the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agencies and “redistribute their functions to their proper authorities.”
A ‘humanitarian’ focus
Under his plan, immigration enforcement within the U.S. and at the border would be returned to the authority of the Department of Justice, including oversight of deportations.
Meanwhile, customs authority would fall under the Treasury Department’s jurisdiction, and naturalization and citizenship authority, which has fallen under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, would go to the State Department.
It is unclear what this would mean for the thousands of workers employed with ICE, CBP and USCIS.
However, Sanders has made clear that his plan would be focused on ensuring that those tasked with processing migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are “recruited and trained for a humanitarian mission, not a law enforcement mission.”
As part of that effort, the democratic socialist said he would “end the use of CBP’s cruel, freezing holding facilities,” which, as his platform notes, are often referred to as “the ice boxes” or las hieleras.
“These facilities are designed to intimidate and harm asylum seekers, as well as deprive them of their rights,” Sanders’ immigration plan states. “They have no place in our immigration system and must be shut down immediately.”
The Democratic candidate said he would also want to expand the DoJ’s official guidance on profiling to ensure that authorities at the border cannot profile people “on the basis of national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity, in addition to race and ethnicity.”
A Sanders administration would also ensure that “sensitive areas,” such as schools, medical facilities, courthouses and places of worship, are not targeted by immigration enforcement, an issue that has repeatedly come up under the Trump administration.
It would also reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to expand DNA testing at the border, with Sanders vowing to “end the use of DNA testing and facial recognition technology for immigration and border enforcement.”
End to ‘Remain in Mexico’
Unsurprisingly, Sanders has also vowed to bring the Trump administration’s widely-condemned “Remain in Mexico” policy, which has seen tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexican border towns while their immigration cases are processed in the U.S., to an end.
He would also dissolve the “Safe Third Country” agreements the U.S. has sought to strike with Central American countries, despite repeated warnings that the move could endanger asylum seekers.
Overall, much of Sanders’ plan is dedicated to reversing what he describes as the “harm” that Trump has caused to immigrant communities.
“Bernie will overturn all of President Trump’s actions to demonize and harm immigrants on the first day of his presidency,” the 2020 candidate’s immigration plan states.
“There is a humanitarian crisis at the border—one that Trump has manufactured,” it continues.
“Bernie will end the barbaric practice of ripping children from their parents and locking children in cages, thoroughly audit and close detention centers, and work to undo the damage President Trump has done to our immigrant community and our national character,” it states.
“Bernie also knows that no parent would take their child and travel thousands of miles on foot except under dire, dangerous circumstances,” it continues. “Decades of disastrous foreign policy decisions in Latin America and bad trade deals have caused destabilization and poverty in South and Central America. We must end global inequality and the international race to the bottom so that no human being needs to migrate for survival.”
That is why, the plan adds, Sanders would also immediately call a summit of leaders from Central American nations, Mexico and other countries to “address the root causes of migration.”
Sanders’ full immigration plan can be found here.
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