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The 2020 Presidential Nominees & Their Respective Stances on Immigration

The Real “Immigration Crisis”

Since 2017, the Trump Administration has been passing several controversial policies to prevent the legal immigration of Mexican and Central American migrants. Since the early days of his election campaign, Donald Trump’s immigration platform and “Make America Great Again” slogan have embodied a form of economic nationalism that prioritizes business leaders, Republican interests, and a primarily white voter base. Consequently, legal and undocumented immigrants alike have suffered a seesaw of fear and confusion as various policies and bans are enacted, challenged, blocked, and then occasionally implemented anyway.

The only way to change this situation and improve the legal immigration process in America is to exercise your right to vote in 2020. But which candidate has your best interests at heart?

Enact Change by Voting

As the 2020 election year approaches, Democratic and Republican hopefuls are campaigning across the country to earn your vote. While there is no such thing as a “perfect” candidate, it’s still important to do your research, watch the televised debates, and exercise your fundamental right to vote in the next leaders of tomorrow

The immigration attorneys at The Modi Law Firm, PLLC have been paying close attention to the presidential nominees and their stances on immigration. After the Democratic debate last Wednesday, there are two declared Republican candidates and eight serious Democratic contenders aiming for the White House. We’ve listed their respective stances on immigration below to help you determine, for yourself, which candidate is best for you.

The Republican Candidates

  • President Donald Trump – Four years is rarely enough time for a president to enact real legislative changes or programs, but Donald Trump has been doing everything in his power to build walls, criminalize and deport migrants, end DACA, detain children, and limit visa and green card opportunities. To vote for Trump’s reelection is to repeat the last four years but on a more extreme scale.
  • William “Bill” Weld (former Governor of Massachusetts) – Although Weld is a Republican candidate, he does have a fairly “liberal” stance on most social issues, including LGBT rights, Medicaid access, and abortion. He has openly opposed Trump’s deportation policies and wants the government to issue more H1B work visas. However, he does not support the legalization of undocumented migrants already living in the country. As Weld explained during a speech last February, “We don’t need a path to citizenship for eleven million people, but we do need more and longer work visas. Under the current regime, we’re simply educating our competition in our graduate schools, and then sending them home to China and other economic competitors of the U.S.”

The Leading Democratic Candidates

Most of the Democratic candidates support the asylum process and want to establish a legal path to citizenship for undocumented migrants. That said, many of the candidates seem to be using immigration reform as a talking point instead of making actual plans, with the exceptions being Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Cory Booker, and Beto O’Rourke.

As of August 2, 2019, only 8 Democratic candidates have met the qualification thresholds upheld by the Democratic National Committee:

  • Joseph “Joe” R. Biden Jr. (former Vice President) – Mr. Biden is trying to appeal to Republican and Democratic voters by serving as the most moderate candidate at the debates.
    • Supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States.
    • Refuses (so far) to comment on ICE actions and doesn’t have plans to abolish or restructure the agency as president.
    • Believes that all undocumented immigrants should be covered under a government-run healthcare plan.
    • Is not against building a border wall if it can be used as political leverage.
    • Will not repeal the criminal statute that punishes migrants for entering the country without permission.
    • Supports increasing foreign aid to Central America.
    • Does not plan to increase the number of refugees accepted into the United States.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) – Senator Sanders is the proud son of an immigrant and one of the most liberal candidates aiming for office.
    • Supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States.
    • Wants to eliminate family detention centers and restructure ICE and the DHS to create a “humane and rational” immigration system.
    • Believes that all undocumented immigrants should be covered under a government-run healthcare plan.
    • Supports an increase in border security funding to process more asylum seekers.
    • Wants to repeal the criminal statute that punishes migrants for entering the country without permission.
    • Does not support the border wall.
    • Wants to expand DACA and DAPA.
    • Supports increasing foreign aid to Central America.
    • Agreed to accept at least 110,000 refugees a year.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) – Senator Warren believes that immigrants are a “vital source of American strength” and has openly contested President Trump’s immigration policies. She has a very thorough – if radical – immigration plan that is worth reviewing in full.
    • Supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States.
    • Her immigration plan includes eliminating family detention centers and reshaping “CBP and ICE from top to bottom.”
    • Believes that all undocumented immigrants should be covered under a government-run healthcare plan.
    • Supports an increase in border security funding to process more asylum seekers.
    • Wants to repeal the criminal statute that punishes migrants for entering the country without permission.
    • Does not support the border wall.
    • Plans to implement procedures to help asylum seekers get their day in court.
    • Supports increasing foreign aid to Central America.
    • Agreed to accept at least 110,000 refugees a year.
  • Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey) – Senator Booker released a broad and controversial immigration plan in early July that would “virtually eliminate immigration detention.”
    • Supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States.
    • Wants to eliminate family detention centers and reform ICE and the CBP.
    • Believes that all undocumented immigrants should be covered under a government-run healthcare plan.
    • Wants to repeal the criminal statute that punishes migrants for entering the country without permission.
    • Does not support the border wall or increased border funding.
    • Wants to expand DACA and DAPA.
    • Supports increasing foreign aid to Central America.
    • Agreed to accept at least 110,000 refugees a year.
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Indiana) – Mayor Buttigieg wants to pass a comprehensive immigration reform law but doesn’t have any plans set in stone.
    • Supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States.
    • Wants to restructure ICE but has failed to provide details.
    • Plans to prioritize the deportation of criminals, recent border crosses, and national security threats.
    • Believes that all undocumented immigrants should be covered under a government-run healthcare plan.
    • Supports an increase in border security funding to process more asylum seekers.
    • Wants to repeal the criminal statute that punishes migrants for entering the country without permission.
    • Believes that “secure borders” are critical to national security and has failed to comment on the border wall.
    • Supports increasing foreign aid to Central America.
    • Agreed to accept at least 110,000 refugees a year.
  • Senator Kamala Harris (California) – Senator Harris is the proud child of immigrants who wants to “fundamentally overhaul our immigration enforcement policies and practices.”
    • Supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States.
    • Has called for a “complete overhaul of the [ICE] agency, mission, culture, and operations.”
    • Believes that all undocumented immigrants should be covered under a government-run healthcare plan.
    • Supports an increase in border security funding.
    • Wants to repeal the criminal statute that punishes migrants for entering the country without permission.
    • Does not support the border wall.
    • Wants to expand DACA.
    • Supports increasing foreign aid to Central America.
    • Does not plan to increase the number of refugees accepted into the United States.
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) – Senator Klobuchar is a firm supporter of immigration enforcement and has no plans to abolish ICE. As of August 2, 2019, she has not detailed her plans for immigration reform.
    • Supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States.
    • Plans to prioritize the deportation of criminals, recent border crosses, and national security threats.
    • Supports an increase in border security funding.
    • Will not repeal the criminal statute that punishes migrants for entering the country without permission.
    • Supports increasing foreign aid to Central America.
    • Agreed to accept at least 110,000 refugees a year.
  • Beto O’Rourke (Former Texas Representative) – Mr. O’Rourke believes that illegal border crossings should remain a criminal – and not civil – offense, and that family separations can be prevented without “fundamentally altering” existing immigration laws.
    • Supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States.
    • Wants to take down some parts of the border wall but believes that certain parts of the U.S.-Mexico border need a wall.
    • Plans to prioritize the deportation of criminals and national security threats.
    • Supports an increase in border security funding.
    • Will not repeal the criminal statute that punishes migrants for entering the country without permission.
    • Supports increasing foreign aid to Central America.
    • Agreed to accept at least 110,000 refugees a year.

Do You Have Questions about Your Legal Rights or Immigration Status?

We hope this list serves as an effective introductory guide to the 2020 presidential nominees. Of course, we are still a year away from the actual election, and the candidates may revise or solidify their respective platforms in the coming months. Our firm will continue to post updates about the election, so check our blog whenever you have a chance. That said, our immigration attorneys are also available if you need to discuss your immigration rights in a safe and confidential setting.

Contact The Modi Law Firm, PLLC at (832) 514-4030 to schedule a confidential consultation.

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