On January 20, the Biden Harris Administration took the first steps in a broad, whole of government effort to finally reform our immigration system, including sending to Congress legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in and contributing to our country. On February 2, the Administration is announcing a series of additional actions it is taking to rebuild and strengthen our immigration system.
These actions build on executive actions the President took his first day in office, including steps to preserve and fortify protections for Dreamers, end the Muslim and Africa ban, halt border wall construction and protect Liberian nationals living and working in our country. On day 1, the President also sent the United States Citizenship Act to Congress, which seeks to modernize our immigration system and smartly manage our borders, while addressing the root causes of migration.
President Biden’s strategy is centered on the basic premise that our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair, safe and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people—both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations—to more fully contribute to our country. President Biden knows that new Americans fuel our economy, as innovators and job creators, working in every American industry, and contributing to our arts, culture, and government.
In signing the executive orders, President Biden said:
“Today, I’m going to sign a few executive orders to strengthen our immigration system, building on the executive actions I took on day one to protect DREAMers, and the Muslim ban, and to better manage of our borders. And that’s what these three different executive orders are about.
“And I want to make it clear — there’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders that I have signed — I’m not making new law; I’m eliminating bad policy. What I’m doing is taking on the issues that — 99 percent of them — that the President — the last President of the United States issued executive orders I felt were very counterproductive to our security, counterproductive to who we are as a country, particularly in the area of immigration.
“This is about how America is safer, stronger, more prosperous when we have a fair, orderly, and humane, and legal immigration system.
“And with the first action today, we’re going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families — their mothers and fathers at the border — and with no plan, none whatsoever, to reunify the children who are still in custody and their parents.”
As he signed the first order, the reestablishment of an Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, he said, “this removes the stain on our reputation for what these separations caused.” The second order, “Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, [and] to Manage Migration Throughout the North and Central America, and to Provide [a] Safe and Orderly Processing Of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border,” he said, “addresses the root causes of a migration to our southern border.”
The third action, Restoring [the] Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,”orders a full review of the previous administration’s harmful and counterproductive immigration policies, basically across the board,” he said.
“As my grandfather would say: By the grace of God and the goodwill of neighbors, we’ll reunite these children and reestablish our reputation as being a haven for people in need.”
Today’s executive actions will:
Create a Task Force to Reunify Families. President Biden believes that families belong together. He has made clear that reversing the Trump Administration’s immigration policies that separated thousands of families at the border is a top priority. A key part of this effort is the creation of a task force to reunite families that remain separated. This task force will work across the U.S. government, with key stakeholders and representatives of impacted families, and with partners across the hemisphere to find parents and children separated by the Trump Administration. The task force will make recommendations to the President and federal agencies regarding steps that they can take to reunify families. Further, the task force will report regularly to the President and recommend steps to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. This Order also revokes the Trump Administration’s Executive Order that sought to justify separating children from their parents.
Develop a Strategy to Address Irregular Migration Across the Southern Border and Create a Humane Asylum System. The Trump Administration’s policies at the border have caused chaos, cruelty and confusion. Those policies have undermined the safety of our communities, penalized asylum seekers fleeing violence, and destabilized security across the Western hemisphere. Today, the Biden Harris Administration will begin to roll back the most damaging policies adopted by the prior administration, while taking effective action to manage migration across the region.
Specifically, the Biden Harris Administration will begin implementing a comprehensive three-part plan for safe, lawful, and orderly migration in the region. First, the Administration will address the underlying causes of migration through a strategy to confront the instability, violence, and economic insecurity that currently drives migrants from their homes. Second, the Administration will collaborate with regional partners, including foreign governments, international organizations, and nonprofits to shore up other countries’ capacity to provide protection and opportunities to asylum seekers and migrants closer to home. Finally, the Administration will ensure that Central American refugees and asylum seekers have access to legal avenues to the United States. The Secretary of Homeland Security is also directed to review the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. The situation at the border will not transform overnight, due in large part to the damage done over the last four years. But the President is committed to an approach that keeps our country safe, strong, and prosperous and that also aligns with our values. This Executive Order also directs a series of actions to restore the U.S. asylum system, including by rescinding and directing agency review of a host of Trump Administration proclamations, rules, and guidance documents that have effectively closed the U.S. border to asylum seekers.
Restore Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Promote Integration of New Americans. President Biden believes that immigrants are essential to who we are as a nation and critical to our aspirations for the future. The prior administration enacted hundreds of policies that run counter to our history and undermine America’s character as a land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all who come here seeking protection and opportunity. This Executive Order elevates the role of the White House in coordinating the federal government’s strategy to promote immigrant integration and inclusion, including re-establishing a Task Force on New Americans, and ensuring that our legal immigration system operates fairly and efficiently. The order requires agencies to conduct a top-to-bottom review of recent regulations, policies, and guidance that have set up barriers to our legal immigration system. It also rescinds President Trump’s memorandum requiring family sponsors to repay the government if relatives receive public benefits, instructs the agencies to review the public charge rule and related policies, and streamline the naturalization process.
On January 20, soon after sitting in the Oval Office for the first time after his inauguration, President Biden stated he was sending to Congress a bill to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system.”
The bill provides hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years, in some cases for decades, an opportunity to earn citizenship. The legislation modernizes our immigration system, and prioritizes keeping families together, growing our economy, responsibly managing the border with smart investments, addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensuring that the United States remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution. The bill will stimulate our economy while ensuring that every worker is protected. The bill creates an earned path to citizenship for our immigrant neighbors, colleagues, parishioners, community leaders, friends, and loved ones—including Dreamers and the essential workers who have risked their lives to serve and protect American communities.
The U.S. Citizenship Act will:
PROVIDE PATHWAYS TO CITIZENSHIP & STRENGTHEN LABOR PROTECTIONS
Create an earned roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals. The bill allows undocumented individuals to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes. Dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements are eligible for green cards immediately under the legislation. After three years, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply to become citizens. Applicants must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017 who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes. Lastly, the bill further recognizes America as a nation of immigrants by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.
Keep families together. The bill reforms the family-based immigration system by clearing backlogs, recapturing unused visas, eliminating lengthy wait times, and increasing per-country visa caps. It also eliminates the so-called “3 and 10-year bars,” and other provisions that keep families apart. The bill further supports familes by more explicitly including permanent partnerships and eliminating discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families. It also provides protections for orphans, widows, children, and Filipino veterans who fought alongside the United States in World War II. Lastly, the bill allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the United States on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available.
Embrace diversity. The bill includes the NO BAN Act that prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future bans. The bill also increases Diversity Visas to 80,000 from 55,000.
Promote immigrant and refugee integration and citizenship. The bill provides new funding to state and local governments, private organizations, educational institutions, community-based organizations, and not-for-profit organizations to expand programs to promote integration and inclusion, increase English-language instruction, and provide assistance to individuals seeking to become citizens.
Grow our economy. This bill clears employment-based visa backlogs, recaptures unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country visa caps. The bill makes it easier for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States; improves access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors; and eliminates other unnecessary hurdles for employment-based green cards. The bill provides dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorization, and children are prevented from “aging out” of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development, gives DHS the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.
Protect workers from exploitation and improve the employment verification process. The bill requires that DHS and the Department of Labor establish a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organizations to make recommendations for improving the employment verification process. Workers who suffer serious labor violations and cooperate with worker protection agencies will be granted greater access to U visa relief. The bill protects workers who are victims of workplace retaliation from deportation in order to allow labor agencies to interview these workers. It also protects migrant and seasonal workers, and increases penalties for employers who violate labor laws.
PRIORITIZE SMART BORDER CONTROLS
Supplement existing border resources with technology and infrastructure. The legislation builds on record budget allocations for immigration enforcement by authorizing additional funding for the Secretary of DHS to develop and implement a plan to deploy technology to expedite screening and enhance the ability to identify narcotics and other contraband at every land, air, and sea port of entry. This includes high-throughput scanning technologies to ensure that all commercial and passenger vehicles and freight rail traffic entering the United States at land ports of entry and rail-border crossings along the border undergo pre-primary scanning. It also authorizes and provides funding for plans to improve infrastructure at ports of entry to enhance the ability to process asylum seekers and detect, interdict, disrupt and prevent narcotics from entering the United States. It authorizes the DHS Secretary to develop and implement a strategy to manage and secure the southern border between ports of entry that focuses on flexible solutions and technologies that expand the ability to detect illicit activity, evaluate the effectiveness of border security operations, and be easily relocated and broken out by Border Patrol Sector. To protect privacy, the DHS Inspector General is authorized to conduct oversight to ensure that employed technology effectively serves legitimate agency purposes.
Manage the border and protect border communities. The bill provides funding for training and continuing education to promote agent and officer safety and professionalism. It also creates a Border Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee, provides more special agents at the DHS Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate criminal and administrative misconduct, and requires the issuance of department-wide policies governing the use of force. The bill directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the impact of DHS’s authority to waive environmental and state and federal laws to expedite the construction of barriers and roads near U.S. borders and provides for additional rescue beacons to prevent needless deaths along the border. The bill authorizes and provides funding for DHS, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and nongovernmental experts, to develop guidelines and protocols for standards of care for individuals, families, and children in CBP custody.
Crack down on criminal organizations. The bill enhances the ability to prosecute individuals involved in smuggling and trafficking networks who are responsible for the exploitation of migrants. It also expands investigations, intelligence collection and analysis pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act to increase sanctions against foreign narcotics traffickers, their organizations and networks. The bill also requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and DHS, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to improve and expand transnational anti-gang task forces in Central America.
ADDRESS ROOT CAUSES OF MIGRATION
Start from the source. The bill codifies and funds the President’s $4 billion four-year inter-agency plan to address the underlying causes of migration in the region, including by increasing assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, conditioned on their ability to reduce the endemic corruption, violence, and poverty that causes people to flee their home countries. It also creates safe and legal channels for people to seek protection, including by establishing Designated Processing Centers throughout Central America to register and process displaced persons for refugee resettlement and other lawful migration avenues—either to the United States or other partner countries. The bill also re-institutes the Central American Minors program to reunite children with U.S. relatives and creates a Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unite families with approved family sponsorship petitions.
Improve the immigration courts and protect vulnerable individuals. The bill expands family case management programs, reduces immigration court backlogs, expands training for immigration judges, and improves technology for immigration courts. The bill also restores fairness and balance to our immigration system by providing judges and adjudicators with discretion to review cases and grant relief to deserving individuals. Funding is authorized for legal orientation programs and counsel for children, vulnerable individuals, and others when necessary to ensure the fair and efficient resolution of their claims. The bill also provides funding for school districts educating unaccompanied children, while clarifying sponsor responsibilities for such children.
Support asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations. The bill eliminates the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims and provides funding to reduce asylum application backlogs. It also increases protections for U visa, T visa, and VAWA applicants, including by raising the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000. The bill also expands protections for foreign nationals assisting U.S. troops.
On World Refugee Day, Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, issued this statement attacking the “fear-mongering, xenophobia and racism” as the “unabashed tenets of Trump’s refugee and immigration policy, and promised to “recommit to building a more inclusive and welcoming America. That’s how we will restore the soul of our nation.”
Here is his statement:
World Refugee Day is the time when all nations recognize the humanity and resilience of the millions of people forced from their homes by persecution, war, and violence and renew our commitment to protect the most vulnerable. The United States has always strived to serve as a beacon of hope — a role model in resettling refugees and leading the humanitarian response abroad. But today is also a bitter reminder of how Donald Trump has tried to change America from a nation of refuge and liberty to one of division and intolerance.
Fear-mongering, xenophobia, and racism are the unabashed tenets of Trump’s refugee and immigration policy, and his divisive, dangerous, and undemocratic response to Black Lives Matter is a reminder of this administration’s devaluation of Black, Brown, and other minority communities not only in the United States, but around the world. But we will not, and we cannot, allow hate and rage to divide us further. Decades ago, giants of the civil rights movement like Bayard Rustin recognized the universal fight for freedom and safety and urged the United States to accept more refugees. Their call is even more urgent today as the number of those forcibly displaced worldwide reaches nearly 80 million people worldwide — roughly 1 percent of humanity.
Donald Trump has made clear that he does not believe our country should be a place of refuge. He has slashed refugee admissions by more than 80 percent and, just this past week, released an immoral and likely unlawful rule that makes it nearly impossible for most asylum-seekers to qualify for protection in the United States . He has cruelly separated thousands of children from their parents, sought to prevent victims of gang and domestic violence from receiving asylum, and severely limited the ability of members of the LGBTQ+ community, an especially vulnerable group in many parts of the world, from qualifying for asylum.
And he has turned his back on the men and women who served honorably alongside our soldiers, diplomats, and aid workers in Iraq and Afghanistan as interpreters and guides, and now find that their lives, and the lives of their families, are threatened for this service. This cannot stand. As one of the co-sponsors of the 1980 Refugee Act, I believe that resettling refugees helps reunite families, enriches the fabric of America, and enhances our standing, influence, and security in the world. Right now, many refugees are also working on the frontlines of the pandemic response, as nursing aides, doctors, meatpackers, and grocery clerks, among other essential workers.
Restoring America’s historic role as leader in resettlement and defending the rights of refugees everywhere will take concrete action.
As President, I will increase the number of refugees we welcome into this country, setting an annual global refugee target of 125,000 — up from a ceiling of 18,000 under Trump — and will seek to further raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need.
I will support efforts to work with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to protect our refugee policy from drastic and arbitrary reductions we have seen during the Trump Administration and establish a minimum admissions number of at least 95,000 refugees annually.
I will pursue policies that increase opportunities for faith and local communities to sponsor refugee resettlement.
I will make more channels, such as higher education visas, available to those seeking safety. I will repeal the Muslim ban — and other discriminatory bans based on ethnicity and nationality — and restore asylum laws, including ending the horrific practice of separating families at our border.
I will work with our allies and partners to stand against China’s assault on Hong Kong’s freedoms and mass detention and repression of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities and support a pathway for those persecuted to find safe haven in the United States and other nations.
I also recognize that it is not enough to simply reverse or dismantle the heartless policies of the Trump Administration. We need to look for ways to do better. On this World Refugee Day, we all must stand together and recommit to building a more inclusive and welcoming America. That’s how we will restore the soul of our nation.
The vigorous contest of Democrats running for president has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan for Justice for Border Communities – a stark contrast to what Trump has done to punish asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, and most recently, using the coronavirus pandemic to raise the prospect of shutting the border to Mexico entirely.
“Our border region is made up of multinational, multicultural, economically vibrant communities that reflect the best of what our country can be. From affordable housing to investing in small businesses to stopping Trump’s monument to hate, we can make big, structural change to promote accountability, opportunity, and prosperity at the border,” Senator Warren stated.
This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, released her plan to ensure accountability in our border communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant militarization, immediately stopping the construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United States, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system, and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem.
She will also work to build a 21st century border economy by boosting small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide, uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the green workforce of the future.
Some new proposals in her plan include:
In her first 100 days, she will convene a borderlands
summit, bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal
Nations, members of the business community, community organizations and
stakeholders to undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more
prosperity in the region.
She will create a new position in the White House that
serves as an advisor to the president on border communities. This person will
direct an Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate
the entire federal government’s investment in our border communities.
She will end Trump’s deployment of military forces to the
Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump
administration is demanding that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency
funding we need to prepare for and respond to coronavirus — so she is
introducing a bill in the Senate to redirect funding diverted to the wall
toward coronavirus instead.
She will end Constitution-Free Zones: She will hold
immigration enforcement to the same due process and standards as other law
enforcement agencies — no more warrantless property searches, no more
arbitrary stops, no more violations of basic Constitutional rights.
She will reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving
Border Patrol agents the power to make “credible fear” determinations for
asylum-seekers rather than asylum officers.
She will invest resources in more culturally competent asylum
officers and immigration judges and better coordinate a full federal government
response to the humanitarian crisis at the border, just like we would with FEMA
under a natural disaster.
She will pardon those convicted of providing food and water
to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply for providing
humanitarian aid to another person in need.
She will create a Border Health Initiative within the
Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to focus on strengthening these health
institutions in ways that serve the unique needs of this region and its people.
She will build a 21st century border economy by investing in
our ports of entry.
The campaign recently did a Texas Latino Engagement tour —
and listened and learned from hundreds of Latino, Latina, and Latinx people in
San Antonio, Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi, and Houston.
Elizabeth will be in San
Antonio with former Secretary of HUD Julián Castro today.
But the challenges at the border did not start with Donald Trump’s ignorance
and bigotry. For decades, decisions made in Washington have divided and
disrupted communities, cities, Tribal Nations, and families — many of whom
have lived along what is now the border for longer than the United States has
The 15 million residents living
in our Southern borderlands — from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California
— deserve a champion and a partner in the White House. Building an
America that reflects our values means elevating the voices of those who have
traditionally been overlooked and underserved. We’ve got to make sure everyone
has a seat at the table, and that includes border communities and immigrant
advocacy groups. In my first 100 days, I will convene a borderlands summit,
bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal Nations,
members of the business community, community organizations, and stakeholders to
undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more prosperity in the
region. I will also create a new position in the White House that serves as an
advisor to the president on border communities. This person will direct an
Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate the entire
federal government’s investment in our border communities.
A Warren administration will ensure accountability in our border
communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant
militarization of the border, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system,
and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem. I’ll
fight for healthy and safe border communities with affordable housing,
high-quality education, health care, and economic opportunities. And together,
we’ll build a 21st century border economy by boosting small
businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide,
uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the
green workforce of the future.
Accountability in Border Communities
We need a federal government that’s accountable to our border
communities. That means an immigration system that keeps families
together, preserves our security, grows our economy, honors our Constitution,
and reflects our values. That also means an approach to national security that
respects the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystems. As president,
my administration will:
Welcome those in need and protect rights and due process. My immigration plan commits
to decriminalizing migration, significantly reducing detention and ending
private detention facilities, providing rights and due process for all
immigrants, reaffirming asylum protections for those fleeing violence, and
ending policies like metering and the “Remain in Mexico” policy. As president,
I’ll also reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving Border Patrol agents
the power to make “credible fear” determinations for asylum-seekers rather than
asylum officers. A Warren administration will invest resources in more
culturally competent asylum officers and immigration judges and better
coordinate a full federal government response to the humanitarian crisis at the
border, just like we would with FEMA during a natural disaster. And I’ll pardon
those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no
one should go to jail simply for providing humanitarian aid to another person
Remake CBP and ICE in a way that reflects our values. We
spend billions of dollars each year on a
massive and cruel immigration detention and enforcement system that
breaks up families and keeps thousands locked up — with little evidence that it makes
our nation safer.A Warren
administration will reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, reducing
funding for detention and instead focusing their efforts on ports of entry and
homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods,
and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the culture, I’ll
insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of independent internal
watchdogs to prevent future abuses. I’ll designate a Justice Department task
force to investigate accusations of serious violations, and give it independent
authority to pursue any substantiated criminal allegations.
The Supreme Court ruling that a family can’t seek damages after
their son was killed by a border patrol agent because he was on
the Mexican side of the border when the agent shot him shows us that our system
of accountability is broken. In spite of the Supreme Court’s decision, a few
steps to one side of the border or another should not serve to forfeit basic
rights. As president, I’ll work to reverse the decision legislatively in order
to ensure accountability for victims of border patrol violence — regardless of
the side of the border. Furthermore, I support requiring Customs and Border
Patrol (CBP) agents to wear body cameras, a best practice in local law
enforcement that reduces use-of-force incidents and increases transparency.
And as new technology is deployed, a Warren administration will monitor
violations of privacy and limit the use of facial-recognition software. Let
there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of
immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren administration will hold you
Stop Trump’s Militarization of the Border. Despite Trump’s
rhetoric, the people seeking asylum at the southern border are not a threat to
our national security. And Trump’s wall is a monument to hate — and only the
latest attempt to treat the southern border as a war zone rather than as a
vibrant community. Many of the apprehensions at the border are families and
children who commonly turn themselves in to
Border Patrol to apply for asylum. This is a humanitarian
crisis in need of medical doctors, immigration lawyers, and social workers —
not military troops. As president, I will end Trump’s deployment of
military forces to the border. I’ve listened to communities at the border when
they say we do not need Trump’s failed wall, and I will immediately stop the
construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United
States. I will also work to repeal the sections of law that allow the federal government to
waive federal procurement rules or environmental impact reviews.
Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump administration is demanding
that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency funding we need to prepare
for and respond to coronavirus — so I am introducing a bill in the Senate to
redirect funding diverted to the wall toward coronavirus instead. We need to
get our priorities straight and focus on keeping the American people safe,
rather than funding some useless vanity project. Let’s be clear: our border
communities are not a war zone.
End Constitution-Free Zones. CBP has the authority to
operate within 100 miles of any “external boundary” — an area deep into
the interior of the country that covers about 200 million people, including
9 of the 10 largest U.S. cities. The Border Patrol operates numerous
immigration checkpoints and regularly stops people to check their immigration
status, raising concerns about racial profiling and violations of the
Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections. During natural disasters and daily
life, immigrant families are afraid to travel freely in their own communities.
Citizens of Tribal Nations such as the Tohono O’odham Nation who have tribal ID cards face
unnecessary hurdles with border patrol checkpoints. Agents also have the authority to enter private property
(except dwellings) 25 miles from the border, which includes almost
all of El Paso. There is no reason Border Patrol agents should have special
access to private property without receiving a warrant from a judge just like
the rest of law enforcement. As president, I will hold immigration enforcement
to the same due process and standards as other law enforcement agencies — no
more warrantless property searches, no more arbitrary stops, no more violations
of basic Constitutional rights. It’s time to rein in CBP, and ensure everyone’s
rights are respected.
Root Out White Nationalism. We need to call out white
nationalism for what it is—domestic terrorism. It is a threat to
American safety and security. In a Warren administration, we will use every
tool we have to defeat it, and that includes from within our military, our law
enforcement, and our immigration enforcement agencies. To start, I will
instruct these federal agencies to tighten their background check processes and
to better track incidents of bias crimes and reports of affiliation with white
nationalist or neo-Nazi groups in their ranks. Extremist ideology is a threat
to our values, and it has no place inside our government. As part of my plan to
reshape ICE and CBP, I’ve said that I will strengthen the authorities of
independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. This includes tasking
the Inspectors General at both agencies to focus explicitly on reports of bias
crimes or racism on the job. A Warren administration will have zero tolerance
for these types of infractions.
From the 1918 Porvenir massacre through
today, we must also recognize the long history of racist violence along
the U.S.-Mexico border. Tragically, we have seen how this horrific
history repeated itself just last August, when a white nationalist, directly
echoing the rhetoric of President Trump, drove hundreds of miles to commit an
act of terror against the people of El Paso. As I laid out in my plan to combat white nationalism,
combatting white nationalist crime will be a top priority for the Departments
of Justice and Homeland Security in a Warren administration. My administration
will also work with federal and local law enforcement to crack down on
dangerous anti-immigrant vigilante militias at the border, which often include members of hate groups or
individuals with a history of violence,
including against U.S. citizens.
Respect Tribal Sovereignty. My plan for public lands
includes aggressive steps to
stop private interests from pillaging sacred lands. I will use all legal
authorities, including the Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation Act, to protect sacred sites like Organ
Pipe. And absent extraordinary circumstances, respect for tribal sovereignty
means that no project, development or federal decision that will have a
significant impact on a tribal community, their lands, resources, members or
religious practices, should proceed without the free, prior, and informed
consent of the Tribal Nation concerned. I have also called for a new Sacred Lands Religious
Freedom Restoration Act to dramatically improve the
ability of Tribal Nations to block the imposition of development, extraction,
and land use decisions with respect to tribal lands.
Fighting for Safe, Healthy, High-Quality Living on the Border
A generation of barely budging wages and rising costs for basics like housing,
health care, child care, and education have squeezed family budgets. Many
families living in communities at our borders are hanging on by their
A lack of affordable housing and decades of systemic discrimination has
driven hundreds of thousands of people,
predominantly U.S. citizens of Mexican-descent, in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico,
and California to live in neighborhoods, called colonias, without basic
necessities like potable water, electricity, and safe housing. Border
communities have uninsured rates that are much higher than the national average
and have some of the highest rates of chronic diseases like diabetes in the
country. In the colonias in Texas, over 50% of adults do not have a
high school diploma.
A Warren administration will:
Invest in safe and affordable housing for all. My Housing Plan for America invests
$500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than
three million units that will be affordable to lower-income families —
including $523 million to create 380,000 affordable rental homes in rural
communities and $2.5 billion to build or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on
tribal lands, where overcrowding, homelessness, and substandard
housing have reached crisis levels. My plan will lower rents by 10%, reform
land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial
segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap.
My plan to protect and empower renters tackles the growing cost of rent,
strengthens fair housing law and enforcement, fights for a nationwide right to
counsel for low-income tenants in eviction proceedings, and creates a national
small dollar grant program to help make sure families aren’t evicted because of
My administration will also take on “land contracts”
agreements, predatory loans that arefrequently targeted at
communities of color and areprevalent in border communities. In
these contracts, tenant-buyers can be subject to unjust eviction
proceedings, homes can be in such bad condition they’re basically
uninhabitable, interest rates exorbitantly high, and in the case of some
colonias, developers have failed to provide basic infrastructure
like a sewer system or paved roads. And because of the “forfeiture clause”
embedded in these kinds of agreements, if tenants fall behind on these
high-interest payments, lenders can seize the property — and keep the payments
that have been made as “liquidated damages.”
Texas is one state that has moved toward increasing protections after
a certain amount has been paid, but there’s more we can do. I’ll choose a CFPB
Director committed to reining in land contracts, work with states to require
that these contracts be recorded to collect better data and formalize land
titling, and strengthen protections and rights of these residents to ensure
their property isn’t lost to exploitative practices and can be passed onto
Protect Clean Water.Clean water is
vital to our health and welfare and to our economy. But decades of
environmental racism have allowed corporate polluters to
pump dangerous amounts of pollution into our border communities and unaccountable developers to
leave these communities without the resources and infrastructure to take it
on. 30% of people living in colonias
don’t have safe drinking water. Meanwhile, border communities have
been battling toxic waste dumping in
their neighborhoods. And yet, Trump’s 2021 budget proposal eliminates much of
the federal money allocated for water and wastewater projects that could have
been used to work towards clean drinking water in border regions.
A Warren administration will invest in our nation’s water systems. I have
committed to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the
Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water infrastructure and
support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance, prioritizing the
communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water infrastructure. I will
also fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act standards for all public water
systems and aggressively regulate chemicals that make their way into our water
supply, including from agricultural runoff. I’ll restore all funding to water
and wastewater projects the Trump administration has proposed to eliminate.
And, for the thousands of people who rely on private
sources for drinking water, a Warren administration will fight for
adequate funding so that everyone can have access to safe water. I’ll also make
giant agribusinesses pay the full costs of the environmental damage they wreak
on the border communities that surround them by closing the loopholes that they
use to get away with polluting and by beefing up enforcement of the Clean Air
and Clean Water Acts against them.
Health care is a human right and that’s why we need
Medicare for All. Under Medicare for All, every single person in this
country will be able to see the doctor they need and get their recommended
treatments. As president, I will immediately act to lower the cost of
prescription drugs, using every available tool to bring pressure on the big
drug companies and bring down the high costs of many common prescription drugs,
including Insulin. And within 100 days, I’ll work with Congress to expand
coverage to every American by expanding Medicare and creating a Medicare for
All option that is free for all kids and families at or below 200 percent of
While we work to deliver Medicare for All, a Warren
administration will roll back the Trump administration’s efforts to rip health
coverage away from people. The Trump administration’s reinterpretation of
Section 1557 would undermine critical nondiscrimination protections, weakening
requirements to make health information language-accessible. As president, I will
direct HHS to reinstate the Obama administration’s 2016 guidance that fully
upholds civil rights and nondiscrimination protections. I’ll roll back the
Trump administration’s Public Charge rule change, which is harming immigrants
with disabilities and forcing immigrant families to choose between staying
together and ensuring their children can get critical services. And I’ll
reverse the Trump administration’s harmful Medicaid policies, like work
requirements and block grants, that take coverage away from low-income
individuals and families.
Strengthen the Health System. While coverage is critical,
it’s only part of ensuring access to high-quality care. We also have a
responsibility to make sure that places that have experienced a loss in
services or are otherwise medically underserved get support to improve their
health systems and meet the needs of their communities.
That’s why I’ve committed to protecting health care in rural communities by
creating a new designation under Medicare for rural hospitals, ending the
harmful effects of consolidation, and dramatically increasing funding for
Community Health Centers. I will also establish a $25 billion dollar capital
fund to support a menu of options for improving care in health professional
shortage areas, including: constructing a new facility like a
Community Health Center, Rural Health Clinic, School-Based Health Center, or
birthing center; expanding capacity or services at an existing clinic;
establishing pharmacy services or a telemedicine program; supporting a diabetes
self-management education program; improving transportation to the nearest
hospital; or piloting models like mobile clinics and community paramedicine
programs. A Warren administration will also expand our health care workforce by
investing more resources in building the pipeline of culturally-competent and
language-inclusive medical professionals in rural areas and other areas with
shortages, from physicians to promotoras.
But we also need to support robust public health efforts to keep these
communities healthy and prepared to handle potential outbreaks — and to work
in partnership with the international community, including Mexico, in our
global health response. That’s why I’ve committed to fully fund the critical
agencies that support our public health infrastructure. To
double down on this commitment in the border region, I will also create a
Border Health Initiative within the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to
focus on strengthening these institutions in ways that serve the unique needs
of this region and its people.
Fight for high-quality education from the earliest years through college. 33 of the 44 counties along the
Southern border are non-metropolitan counties. Today, a majority of rural communities lack
sufficient access to child care. My plan for Universal Child Care will
provide high-quality child care free for millions and affordable for everyone.
My administration will also work closely with local providers and tribal
governments to make sure there are high-quality child care options available in
every community — including home-based child care services. And as part of a
comprehensive early childhood education system, I will ensure all children can
attend free high-quality universal pre-K.
I’m also committed to protecting English Language Learners by enforcing their
rights to meaningful access to rigorous coursework, teachers, special education
services, and integration with the rest of the student body, while fostering
their home language. And I will protect the rights of immigrant students,
ensuring that all immigrant children have access to a quality education, no
matter their native language, national origin, or immigration status.
Border states are
facing an acute teacher shortage.
My administration will treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are
by strengthening the ability of educators to organize and bargain for just
compensation and ensure that educators aren’t drowning in debt. I’ll also build
a more diverse teacher and school leadership pipeline by investing in Grow Your
Own and teacher residency programs. And I will push to fully fund the Teacher
Quality Partnership program to support teacher residency programs in high-need
areas, like rural communities, and in areas of expertise like Special Education
and Bilingual Education.
My student debt cancellation and
universal public college plan will cancel up to $50,000 in
student loan debt for more than 95% of Americans who carry it and make two-year
or four-year public college or technical school free. My plan also makes a
minimum $50 billion investment in HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal
Colleges and Universities, and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
Prevent Gun Violence in Border Communities and in Mexico. After
Trump, we’ll have work to do to restore our relationship with our Mexican
neighbors. One area where we can begin to make improvements immediately is
in stopping the flow of American guns
to Mexico. As Mexico struggles with record violence, Americans must
face the fact that our weak gun laws have not only fed an epidemic of gun
violence at home, but are also a leading driver of instability among our
neighbors. This instability in turn is displacing people across Mexico and
elsewhere in Latin America, feeding the humanitarian crisis that border
communities in both the U.S. and Mexico are facing today. I will fight to end gun violence,
recognizing that this is part of addressing the root causes of migration and improving
our relationship with Mexico. And as president, I will pass a new federal
anti-trafficking law making clear “straw purchases” are a federal crime and
prosecute gun traffickers by instructing my Attorney General to go after the
transnational gun trade with all the resources of the federal government.
Building a 21st Century Border Economy
A thriving border economy is crucial to the economic wellbeing of the rest of
our country. And when Trump has threatened to shut it down, the ramifications
have been felt quickly and acutely. In 2018, a 5 hour border crossing closure
at San Ysidro in California — the busiest land border crossing in
the world — cost local businesses $5.3 million. We
need a strong border economy that works for everyone. That means investments in
local small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the
digital divide, trade that uplifts labor and environmental protections, and
developing the green workforce of the future.
Boosting Small Businesses. Small businesses are
essential to the prosperity of border communities, but these businesses have
been harmed by increased border militarization and Trump’s reckless tariff by tweet approach
to trade. People along the U.S.-Mexico border also confront barriers to
accessing the capital and financial services necessary to start and grow their
businesses — barriers that disproportionately affect Latino,
Native American, and Black entrepreneurs. My comprehensive agenda to boost
America’s small businesses will level the playing field for
small business owners on the border by providing access to credit, helping
small businesses deal with regulatory requirements, and unleashing the full
purchasing power of the federal government to support small businesses.
Protecting and Expanding Financial Services. The number of
rural counties without a locally owned community bank has doubled since 1994, and
border communities are increasingly becoming banking
deserts. I’ve proposed allowing the U.S. Postal Service to partner with
local community banks and credit unions to provide access to
low-cost, basic banking services online and at post offices. A Warren
Administration will also strengthen lending to small businesses in underserved
areas by expanding support for Community Development Financial Institutions,
which provide an important source of funding for
women, people of color, and rural communities. As president, my
administration will also protect immigrant families sending remittances by
enacting stronger rules at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau around
remittances to ensure fees are transparent, and I will oppose President Trump’s
proposed tax on remittances that targets wire transfers to Mexico, Latin
America, and the Caribbean to pay for his wall.
Extend Broadband to Border Communities. The communities
along the U.S.-Mexico border have some of the lowest levels of internet
connectivity in the nation. This digital divide is a
major barrier for people to find jobs, students to complete homework, small
business to connect to new markets, and it holds back the entire community.
That’s why as president, I will make it clear in federal statute that
municipalities have the right to build their own broadband networks and
establish a new $85 billion federal grant program to
massively expand broadband access across the country. I will also require all
telecommunications services to contribute fairly into the Universal Service
Fund to shore up essential universal service programs that provide subsidies to
low-income individuals, schools, and libraries to increase broadband adoption –
because every home in America deserves a fiber broadband connection at a price
families can afford.
Decreasing Wait Times. Under the Trump Administration, wait times
at ports of entry are dramatically increasing, reducing trade and commerce
and even impacting air quality for
surrounding communities. Every day almost $2 billion worth of products crosses
the U.S.-Mexico border, but delays in Texas can exceed 10 hours — this is
unacceptable. In places like Deming, New Mexico, students pushed across the
border because of unaffordable housing or to be with deported family
members get up at dawn to wait hours
through highly-militarized security checks to make it to school on
the U.S.-side on time. An estimated 40,000 children cross the
U.S.-Mexico border for school every day. First, we will
invest in dedicated pedestrian lanes for both U.S. citizens and students, and
the “All Lanes Open Initiative” so that there is better traffic flow
during the morning rush and expand the program to include evenings. We also
need to completely repeal the “hardening measures,” such as concrete
barriers topped with razor wire, and limit “tactical exercises” that create
choke points and slow down traffic. With the passage of the USMCA, we will
increase the number of custom officials and invest in modern technology to more
efficiently and effectively inspect and verify goods.
Leveling the Playing Field with Trade. As a Senator, I voted
for the USMCA — the revised NAFTA agreement. I supported the agreement because
it made some improvements for American workers, farmers, and consumers, and
Mexican workers too. It guarantees the right to organize for Mexican workers,
provides for new investments in combating pollution such as $300 million
to stop cross-border sewage flows,
and strengthens diplomatic ties with our neighbors at a time that President
Trump seeks to divide us.
But we will do much better for border communities in a Warren administration.
We need a new approach to trade that works for Americans who have been left
behind, including the communities on the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead of pursuing
a race to the bottom when it comes to worker’s rights and environmental
protection, it is time to use our leverage of the American market to encourage
other countries, including Mexico, to elevate their policies. When we raise
labor and environmental standards worldwide, we help millions of people living
abroad and let American workers compete on a more level playing field.
Building the Green Workforce of the Future. Border states
are emerging as leaders of the new green economy.Texas is the leading producer of
wind energy in the country, California is the leading producer
of solar energy, and clean energy investments in New Mexico and Arizona are on the
rise. To really bend the curve on climate, we’ll need sustained big, structural
change across a range of industries and sectors. My administration will commit
to investments in retraining, joint labor management apprenticeships, and
creating strong career pipelines to ensure a continuous supply of skilled,
available workers. And, we will look for every opportunity to partner with high
schools and vocational schools to build pathways to the middle class for kids
who opt not to go to college. Outside experts that have looked at my ideas for
a Green New Deal to analyze how they will drive job creation have estimated
that they will create 10.6 million new green jobs.
That means millions of new clean energy jobs in border states and honoring our
commitments and a just transition for fossil fuel workers, so that no one is
Honoring our Border Servicemembers and Veterans. Military
bases and military families are key drivers of local border economies, from the
Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio. Rather
than defunding military projects — like military base child care
facilities — to build Trump’s “wall”, we should be investing
in military readiness, infrastructure, and veterans and their families. From
military housing and child care to a 21st century VA system, I will keep our
promise to care for our nation’s veterans, service members, and military
The Women’s Marches that took place across the country – some 250 of them including Washington DC and New York City – are the opening salvo to the 2020 Election. Make no mistake, this was about voting, realizing that all the issues that they care about hinge on the coming election and not on changing the minds of lawmakers who currently control the levers of power: reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to self-determination; access to the ballot and access to health care; climate action and environmental justice; gun safety and domestic violence; gender equity, sexism and misogyny; discrimination and sexual harassment; immigration reform and human rights. They are all on the ballot this November.
And the Supreme Court and all the courts now
dominated by radical right-wing judges that seek to roll back women’s rights,
civil rights, voting rights, health-care-is-a-human-right. “Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, hold on,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer declared as the
march set off down Columbus Avenue, passed the Trump International Hotel, where
the most animated expressions of outrage against Trump and his administration
A singular, unifying message emerged: Dump Trump and
his henchmen and his enablers.
And a theme for the New York City march organized by Women’s March Alliance (womensmarchalliance.org): Rise & Roar.
vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has
produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie
Sanders released hisimmigration plan, “A Welcoming
and Safe America for All.” This is a summary from the Sanders campaign:
WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his immigration
plan, “A Welcoming and Safe America for All,” which would fundamentally
overhaul immigration into a humane, lawful process that protects families and
respects human rights. Sanders would reverse Trump’s executive actions, create
a swift and fair pathway to citizenship, decriminalize immigration and
demilitarize our border, protect and strengthen immigrant labor rights, support
immigrants in America, and enact fair trade deals and a humane foreign
“My father came to America as a refugee without a nickel in his pocket,
to escape widespread anti-Semitism and find a better life,” Sanders said. “As
the proud son of an immigrant, I know that my father’s story is the story of so
many Americans today. When I am in the White House we will stop the hatred
towards our immigrant brothers and sisters, end family separation, and locking
children up in cages. We will end the ICE raids that are terrorizing our
communities, and on my first day as president, I will use my executive power to
protect our immigrant communities and reverse every single horrific action
implemented by Trump.”
The plan, which is the most progressive immigration proposal put forth
in presidential history, was written in conjunction with several DACA
recipients and other immigrants on Bernie 2020 staff.
As President, Sanders will use his executive authority to
overturn all of President Trump’s actions to demonize and harm immigrants on
day one of his administration. Sanders will extend legal status to the 1.8
million young people currently eligible for the DACA program, and provide
administrative relief to their parents, those with Temporary Protected Status,
and parents of legal permanent residents. He will also use advance parole,
parole-in-place, and hardship waivers to remove barriers to legal status and
citizenship for as many undocumented immigrants as possible.
authority to reverse Trump’s harmful actions on immigration, including ensuring
asylum seekers can make their claims in the United States, ending family
detention and separation, reuniting families, reversing the Muslim ban and
halting construction on Trump’s racist border wall.
Place a moratorium on
deportations and end ICE raids.
Restore and expand
DACA and use advance parole, parole in place, and hardship waivers to remove
barriers to legal status and citizenship for as many undocumented immigrants as
Push Congress to enact
a fair, swift, and inclusive path to citizenship for the 11 million
undocumented living in the United States.
bloated, dysfunctional Department of Homeland Security, break up ICE and CBP
and return their core functions to their previous departments, and begin
treating immigration outside the context of national security.
demilitarize the border, ensure migrants due process, and fully fund and staff
independent immigration courts.
Strengthen and protect
immigrant labor rights, including for historically excluded and underregulated
occupations such as farmworkers and domestic workers, ensure employers are held
accountable for mistreating immigrant workers, and reform work visas.
trade deals, develop a humane foreign policy, and lead the world in addressing
climate change, including taking in those forced from their homes due to
Ensure immigrants in
the United States get the support and benefits they need, including healthcare
and education, and streamline immigration and naturalization.
vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has
produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Mayor Pete
Buttigieg released his proposal to create a modern immigration system. This is a summary from the Pete for America campaign:
SOUTH BEND, IN — Mayor Pete Buttigieg released “I was a stranger and you welcomed me:
An Immigration Policy for A New Era,” a comprehensive
immigration policy that lays out Pete’s bold plan to create a modern
immigration system that fosters belonging, promotes our shared values, engages
with the global community, and ensure our nation remains competitive while
protecting all workers.
“On Day One of my administration, we will reverse this
president’s cruel and counterproductive immigration actions that separate
families, put children in cages and prevent them from having basic necessities
like toothpaste or soap, deport veterans, and sweep up workers in raids while
leaving exploitative employers unpunished,” said Buttigieg. “But we will do more than simply end these
outrages. We will reform a system that has been in dire need of reform for
decades and create an immigration system for a new era that reflects America’s
values of welcoming and belonging.”
A Buttigieg administration will work to ensure that our
nation is a beacon of hope for immigrants and refugees and will build a better
system that serves all of us. Pete’s plan will:
Pass legislation in his first 100 days that provides a
path to citizenship, including for people with temporary
protections—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected
Status (TPS), Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and withholding of removal.
While working on a necessary legislative fix, Pete will immediately restore and
extend temporary protections rescinded or threatened by the current
administration on day one.
Accelerate reunification of families. Pete will
reduce the backlog of family-based visas and increase the number of visas
issued for family reunification each year. He also will fight for reforms to
re-classify spouses and children of permanent residents as immediate relatives,
eliminate discriminatory annual per-country caps, end down-grading of family
preferences (through aging out or getting married), and recognize same-sex
partners from countries lacking marriage equality.
End the Muslim Ban on Day One. Pete will immediately
end this ban, which should be anathema to our values as Americans.
Reduce barriers to health care and education by
eliminating the five-year waiting period for green card holders gaining access
to public health insurance and food assistance programs; expanding on Obamacare
to allow all immigrants to access health coverage on the marketplaces, and
expanding access to Pell grants for students with DACA.
Protect undocumented workers from retaliation when
reporting labor violations. Pete will support the Agricultural Worker
Program Act, which protects farmworker rights such as labor, pesticide
protection, and food safety laws. Pete also supports the Domestic Workers’ Bill
Provide opportunities for people who want to build our
economy where they are needed most. Pete will create a local Community
Renewal (CR) visa targeted toward counties that have lost prime-working-age
population over the last 10 years, and smaller cities that are struggling to
keep pace economically with larger cities.
Create a National Office of New Americans to promote and
support immigrant and refugee integration and inclusion. This office will
be in the Executive Office of the President and will coordinate integration
efforts across federal, state, and local governments.
Keep naturalization affordable. The Trump
administration is proposing to hike the naturalization application fee by 83%
to $1,170 —that’s more than an average family pays for rent each month in 43
states. Pete’s administration will keep naturalization affordable and ensure
that fee waivers are available to those unable to pay. As we do for those who
serve in the military. Pete will not require a fee from national service
Put border facilities under the purview of HHS rather
than CBP. Byshifting responsibility for processing centers to the
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we ensure proper care of asylum
Fully restore and increase aid to Central America.
The Trump administration suspended nearly $450 million in aid to El Salvador,
Honduras, and Guatemala in retaliation for failing to stop migrants from
leaving for the United States, a short-sighted response that has only
exacerbated the dire conditions that cause people fleeing in the first place. A
Buttigieg administration will restore funding to additional programs proven
effective in improving the rule of law, functioning judicial systems,
education, regional safety, economic stability, and combating corruption.
Modernize our employment-based visa system. We have
not meaningfully updated our visa caps in over 30 years. Rather than reset our
visa allotments one time based on current data, which will quickly become
outdated as our economy continues to change, Pete will create a flexible review
system where the allotment for employment-based visas will be set every other
year based on our economy’s needs. This process will make our immigration
system more adaptable, evidence-based, and competitive.
Our democracy is stronger when people living here have a voice in our society.
Read Mayor Pete’s comprehensive plan for An Immigration Policy for A New Era HERE.
Rest of World Embraces Multilateralism to Achieve Equitable, Sustainable Future
By Karen Rubin,
There couldn’t be more divergently contrasting speeches between that of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and US President Donald Trump, even more stark by coming virtually on heels of each other – or then again, between Trump and every other head of state and minister who came to the podium.
“I have the privilege of addressing you today as the elected leader of a nation that prizes liberty, independence and self-government above all,” Trump declared. “The United States, after having spent over two and a half trillion dollars since my election to completely rebuild our great military, is also by far the world’s most powerful nation.”
immediately after the Youth Climate March on Friday which brought out some 4
million people around the world to demand the world’s leaders act to save the
habitability of the planet, and the United Nation’s Climate Summit in which
over 100 nations (not the United States, but states and regions were
represented) gave specifics on programs and achievements in order to prevent
the earth from heating more than 1.5 degrees more, Trump boasted that the United
States has become the world’s “Number One Producer of Oil and Gas.”
a body created out of the ashes of two devastating world wars to prevent such
global conflicts, Trump declared, “The
future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The
future belongs to sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens,
respect their neighbors and honor the differences that make each country
special and unique.”
Reprising and expanding upon his America First speech he delivered to the United Nations last year, he attacked anything that might smack of multilateralism, and urged the rest of the world to follow suit.
“If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty. And if you want peace, love your nation,” he declared – a statement that defies any reading of history.
Yet, Trump insisted the nations of the world adopt the
Trumpian view of “Freedom of Religion”.
“This fundamental right is under growing threat around the
world. Hard to believe, but 80 percent of the world’s population lives in
countries where religious liberty is in significant danger or even completely
outlawed. Americans will never fire or tire in our effort to defend and promote
freedom of worship and religion. We want and support religious liberty for all.
“Americans will also never tire of defending innocent life,”
he said. “We are aware that many United Nations projects have attempted to
assert a global right to taxpayer funded abortion on demand right up until the
moment of delivery. Global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking
the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life. Like many
nations here today, we in America believe that every child born and unborn is a
sacred gift from God.”
Defend innocent life – except when it comes to guns.
“There is no circumstance under which the United States
will allow international interests to trample on the rights of our citizens,
including the right to self-defense. That is why this year I announced that we
will never ratify the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which would threaten the
liberties of law-abiding American citizens. The United States will always
uphold our constitutional right to keep and bear arms. We will always uphold
our Second Amendment. The core rights and values America defends today were
inscribed in America’s founding documents.
“Our nation’s founders understood that there will always be
those who believe they are entitled to wield power and control over others.
Tyranny advances under many names and many theories, but it always comes down
to the desire for domination. It protects not the interests of many, but the privilege
of few. Our founders gave us a system designed to restrain this dangerous
impulse. They choose to entrust American power to those most invested in the
fate of our nation: a proud and fiercely independent people.”
Each year, Trump has to find a boogey-man to attack.
In his first address, he lambasted North
Korea’s “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-Un; last year he went after Venezuela. This year,
he declared “One of the greatest security threats facing peace-loving nations
today is the repressive regime in Iran. The regime’s record of death and
destruction is well known to us all. Not only is Iran the world’s number one
state sponsor of terrorism, but Iran’s leaders are fueling the tragic wars in
both Syria and Yemen.”
As the United Nations raises alarms about the greatest
numbers of displaced people around the globe since World War II, Trump tripled
down on his hostility and hatred for refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants.
“To anyone conducting crossings of our border illegally,
please hear these words: Do not pay the smugglers. Do not pay the coyotes. Do
not put yourself in danger. Do not put your children in danger. Because if you
make it here, you will not be allowed in. You will be promptly returned home.
You will not be released into our country as long as I am president of the
United States. We will enforce our laws and protect our borders. For all of the
countries of the western hemisphere, our goal is to help people invest in the
bright futures of their own nation. Our region is full of such incredible
promise, dreams, waiting to be built, and national destinies for all, and they
are waiting also to be pursued.” The United States rejected the United Nations
Global Migration Compact.
Trump’s speech to the General Assembly, just as his remarks
to the “Freedom of Religion” forum the day before, was tailored for his base
(and helps explain his eagerness to pal around with India’s Prime Minister
Modi, attending the 50,000-strong rally in Houston, despite Modi’s harsh
assault on Muslim-majority Kashmir – it is his ticket to the Indian-American
vote). In this context, his attack on Venezuela served as his foil for
attacking Democrats and their radical ideas about income inequality and
universal health care.
“One of the most serious challenges our country has faced
is the specter of socialism. It’s the wrecker of nations and destroyer of
societies. The events in Venezuela reminds us all that socialism and communism
are not about justice. They are not about equality, they are not about lifting
up the poor, and they are certainly not about good of the nation. Socialism and
communism are about one thing only: power for the ruling class. Today I repeat
a message for the world that I have delivered at home: America will never be a
socialist country. The last century socialism and communism killed 100 million
began his speech noting that the United Nations Charter’s first words are “We
the Peoples” “It puts people at the center of our work, everyday,
everywhere…. people with rights. Those rights are an endowment.”
take their jobs. Traffickers take their dignity. Demagogues take
their rights. Warlords take their lives. Fossil fuels take their
future”, he declared. “And because people still believe in the United Nations,
we, the leaders, must deliver. They believe as leaders we will put people
first, because we the leaders must deliver for We the Peoples…People have a
right to live in peace.”
cited promising developments, such as peaceful elections in Madagascar and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo; the Greece-North Macedonia name dispute
resolution; political dialogue in Sudan; and an agreement in Syria. But he
spoke of persisting conflicts, terrorism and “the risk of a new arms race
growing” across the world, and lamented unresolved situations in Yemen, Libya
and Afghanistan; an evasive solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict;
Venezuelan displacements; and “the alarming possibility of armed conflict in
And without actually naming the United States and China, he raised alarm over “a new risk looming on the horizon: the possibility of a great fracture, the world splitting in two, with the two largest economies on earth creating two separate and competing worlds, each with their own dominant currency, trade and financial rules, their own internet and artificial intelligence capacities, and their own zero sum geopolitical and military strategies”.
“We must do everything possible to avert the Great Fracture
and maintain a universal system…with strong multilateral institutions”, he
he, like every other leader, pointed to the need to aggressively confront
Climate Action. Referencing Monday’s Climate
Action Summit, the UN chief underscored the importance of
our language has to adapt: what was once called ‘climate change’ is now truly a
“climate crisis” … and what was once called ‘global warming’ has more
accurately become ‘global heating’,” he said.
referred to Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas as he spoke of “unprecedented
temperatures, unrelenting storms and undeniable science”.
“not fast enough”, the world is starting to move “in the right direction” –
away from fossil fuels and towards a green economy, he said.
to fundamental freedoms, the UN chief said, “we are at a critical juncture
where advances made across the decades are being restricted and reversed,
misinterpreted and mistrusted”.
Secretary-General pointed to new forms of authoritarianism; narrowing civic
spaces; the targeting of activists, human rights defenders and journalists; and
expanding surveillance systems that are “shredding the fabric of our common
And in direct contradiction to the Trumpian vision of the
world order, Guterres said that anything that is done to uphold security
and human rights “helps deliver sustainable development and peace”.
the 21st century, we must see human rights with a vision that speaks to each
and every human being and encompasses all rights”, lauding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as
a tool for social protection, a sustainable environment, education and decent
themes were echoed by just about every other leader and representative – except
for Donald Trump. Indeed, the rest of the world seems more resolved than ever
to work together – basically ignoring the United States.
That is fine with Trump, who thinks of the rest of the world as children trying to tap their Dad for money.
The vigorous contest
of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent
policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders,in Des Moines
ahead of the Iowa AFL-CIO convention, announced a comprehensive plan to at
least double union membership during his first term as president, rebuilt the
middle class and substantially raise wages. This is from the Sanders campaign:
“Corporate America and
the billionaire class have been waging a 40-year war against the trade union
movement in America that has caused devastating harm to the middle class in
terms of lower wages, fewer benefits and frozen pensions,” Sanders said. “That
war will come to an end when I am president. If we are serious about rebuilding
the middle class in America, we have got to rebuild, strengthen and expand the
trade union movement in America.”
Sanders’ Workplace Democracy Plan would essentially repeal Iowa’s Chapter
20 law that stripped the rights of public sector workers to collectively
bargain for better benefits and safer working conditions by giving all public
sector workers the freedom to negotiate.
The sweeping proposal
to strengthen unions would end right to work laws, give every union worker in
America the right to strike and ban the replacement of striking workers.
As president, Sanders
also pledged to sign an executive order preventing large, profitable
corporations that engage in union busting, outsource jobs overseas or pay
workers less than $15 an hour from receiving federal contracts.
The plan would also
make it substantially easier to form a union and stop employers from ruthlessly
exploiting workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors or denying
them overtime by falsely categorizing them as a “supervisor.”
Other key elements of
this proposal include:
Requiring companies that merge to honor existing union contracts.
Bringing workers, employers and the government together across industries to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions through sectoral bargaining.
Stop corporations from forcing workers to attend mandatory anti-union meetings as a condition of continued employment.
Protect the pensions of workers.
Establish federal protections against the firing of workers for any reason other than “just cause.”
In addition, the plan
makes sure that all union workers would be better off under Medicare for All.
If Medicare for All is signed into law, companies with union-negotiated health
care plans would be required to enter into new contract negotiations overseen
by the National Labor Relations Board. Under this plan, all company savings that
result from reduced health care contributions from Medicare for All will accrue
equitably to workers in the form of increased wages or other benefits.
As Donald Trump prepares to unleash raids
on undocumented migrants in cities across the country, while thousands of men, women
and children seeking asylum are crammed into unliveable detention camps for
weeks and months without end – a humanitarian crisis created through a
combination of cruelty and ineptitude – US Senator Elizabeth Warren, running
for Democratic nomination for president, announced a plan to create an immigration
system that is fair, humane, and reflects American values.
Trump wants to divide us — to pit worker against worker, neighbor against
neighbor. He wants Americans to blame their troubles on those who are new to
our country, or who don’t look the same, even as his administration robs us
dry. He has tried his best to make it appear that immigrants are not welcome on
can be better than this. Americans know that immigrants helped weave the very
fabric of our country in the past — and they know that immigrants belong here
work with Congress to pass broad-reaching reform, but I’m also prepared to move
forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act. We cannot continue to
ignore our immigration challenges, nor can we close our borders and isolate the
United States from the outside world. Instead we need big, structural change: a
fair immigration system that preserves our security, grows our economy, and
reflects our values. That’s good for immigrants, good for workers, and
ultimately good for the United States.”
Immigrants have always been a vital source of American strength. They grow our
economy and make our communities richer and more diverse. They are our
neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends — and every bit as much a part of
America as those who were born in the United States.
Trump sees things differently. He’s advanced a policy of cruelty and division
that demonizes immigrants. He’s axed programs that protect young Dreamers and
asylum seekers fleeing violence and upheaval. He’s championed dramatic cuts to legal
immigration, and imposed a bigoted ban on travelers
from Muslim-majority countries. He’s threatened to close our ports of
entry to lawful transit and commerce, and exploited a crisis
of his own making at the border to score cheap political points. But while
Trump may have taken the system to its most punitive extreme, his racist
policies build on a broken immigration system and an enforcement infrastructure
already primed for abuse.
saw that in McAllen, Texas, in the eyes of mothers who fled violence only to be
ripped apart from their babies at the U.S. border. I saw it in the tears of
families as they waited for their loved ones at Logan Airport in Boston on the
night Trump announced his Muslim Ban. I saw it in the tired faces of little
children made to march in formation between makeshift tents in the hot summer
sun at the Homestead detention facility in Florida.
also see it when I talk with our Dreamers about their aspirations and their
fears. When I meet with business owners who watch their competition exploit
undocumented workers for a competitive advantage, and with farmers who cannot
access the labor they need. When I sit with families who have been waiting
decades for a visa to reunite with their loved ones, and with mixed-status
families who worry that a parent, brother or sister could be ripped away at any
must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s
discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration
system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite
families, and meet our labor market demands. We need real reform that provides
cost-effective security at our borders, addresses the root causes of migration,
and provides a path to status and citizenship so that our neighbors don’t have
to live in fear. That’s why today I’m announcing my plan for immigration reform
— to create a rules-based system that is fair, humane, and that reflects our
Trump has weaponized deportation in ways that are costly, ineffective, and
designed to maximize pain. It’s time to end this cruelty — and refocus on true
threats to public safety and national security instead. As president, I
Decriminalize migration and refocus enforcement on
serious criminal activity. Entering the country without authorization has
always been a violation of civil immigration law, but thanks to a former segregationist Senator,
it’s also a criminal violation. This additional criminal provision is totally
unnecessary for border security, and for a century, it was rarely enforced. But
since the early 2000s, it has been used to build and sustain a massive
immigration detention complex. In 2016, over half of all
federal criminal prosecutions were for immigration violations — more than
prosecutions for terrorism, organized crime, hate crimes, or financial fraud.
This obsessive focus ties up federal prosecutors and overwhelms federal
courts. It’s costly and unnecessary. And under Trump, it has become
increasingly abusive. We should repeal this criminal prohibition to prevent
future abuse. As president, I will immediately issue guidance to end criminal
prosecutions for simple administrative immigration violations; end Operation
Streamline, which subjects migrants to mass prosecutions; and refocus our
limited resources on actual criminals and real threats to the United States. I
will also issue prosecutorial guidance to prioritize immigration cases with
security concerns, and make sure government attorneys are properly exercising
their discretion for individuals who pose no public safety risk.
Separate law enforcement from immigration
enforcement to strengthen our communities. There are good reasons to
keep immigration enforcement and law enforcement separate. When law enforcement
is forced to also handle immigration violations, people are less willing
to report crimes for
fear of revealing their immigration status. Combining these functions sows
distrust and harms public safety. As President, I’ll put in place strict
guidelines to protect sensitive locations like schools, medical facilities, and
courthouses from enforcement actions. I’ll expand programs that grant
protections to immigrant victims of serious crimes who come forward and assist
law enforcement. And I’ll end programs like 287(g) and “Secure
Communities” that force local cops to enforce federal immigration laws so they
can focus on effectively serving their communities.
Remake CPB and ICE in a way that reflects our
immigration agencies should protect Americans and uphold the rule of law, not
pursue punitive anti-immigrant policies that target communities of color. I’ll
hold immigration enforcement to the same due process standards as other law
enforcement agencies — no more warrantless arrests or stops deep in the
interior of our country. I’ll reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, focusing
their efforts on homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying
counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the
culture, I’ll insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of
independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses.
Create accountability for the abuse perpetrated
during the Trump Era. President Trump and his Administration are
comfortable looking the other way while criminal abuses of immigrants pile up.
When I am President, I will not. I’ll designate a Justice Department task force
to investigate accusations of serious violations — including medical neglect and physical and sexualassaults of
detained immigrants — and give it independent authority pursue any substantiated
criminal allegations. Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating
the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren Administration
will hold you accountable.
Reduce Immigration Detention
are rightfully horrified by scenes of chaos and abuse at our
border. Separating parents and children and detaining families and other
vulnerable populations is not only staggeringly expensive and inhumane, it has
no proven deterrent effect. To end
unnecessary detention and rebuild a more humane system, a Warren administration
End unnecessary detention. We already
have the tools to effectively track and monitor individuals without shoving
them into cages and camps along the border. As President, I’ll issue guidance
ensuring that detention is only used where it is actually necessary because an
individual poses a flight or safety risk. I will put additional layers of
protection in place for certain groups, including asylum seekers, families
and pregnant women, and LGBTQ+ people who are more vulnerable in a general
detention facility. And I’ll enforce strict standards for remaining detention
facilities, including for medical care and to end the use of solitary
Eliminate private detention facilities. There is
no place in this country for profiting off cruelty. I’ll end the contracts ICE
has with private detention providers, and push for legislation to
permanently ban for-profit
Expand the executive use of parole and invest in
alternatives-to-detention. DHS has broad authority to parole individuals
who are detained prior to their cases being heard in immigration court.
Community-based alternatives to
detention are safer, save money, and can be more effective at ensuring
compliance. I’ll significantly expand successful programs, which include case
management, referrals to legal and social services, and periodic check-ins and
surveillance. These programs provide a measure of dignity for those in the
system, and their expanded use would save over a billion dollars each year in
unnecessary detention costs.
Rights and Due Process in our Immigration Courts
not enough to merely correct the excesses of the Trump administration’s
immigration policies. To prevent future abuses, we need to treat migrants
moving through the system in a manner that reflects our Constitution and our
values. A Warren administration will:
Establish professional, independent Article I
immigration courts. DOJ
both oversees the immigration court system and enjoys massive authority to
manipulate those courts to implement the president’s immigration policy agenda.
Immigration court rulings can even be overturned by the Attorney General — a
fundamental conflict of interest exploited by Jeff
Sessions. I’ll work to create a credible, independent system by passing
legislation establishing Article I judicial review for immigration cases
modeled on our federal courts. I’ll deploy smart efficiency measures, beginning
by restoring judges’ ability to prioritize and manage their own dockets. And my
administration will recruit highly qualified immigration judges with a diverse
set of legal experiences so that everyone receives appropriate justice.
Eliminate expedited removal and provide due
process ensures basic fairness for individuals attempting to navigate complex
laws and prevents law enforcement and Presidents from abusing authority.
But mostimmigrants facing
deportation do not have attorneys — and in the Trump administration, that even
includes toddlers. In fact,
one-third of deported immigrants never even see a judge: instead, the
immigration officer serves as both prosecutor and jury. I’ll eliminate the use
of expedited removal proceedings and guarantee hearings. I’ll call for creating
a national-scale immigration public defender corps,
and a Warren administration will provide access to counsel in immigration
Those In Need
laws and our values compel us to help those fleeing violence and oppression,
but Trump’s racism has contributed to a climate of fear for those seeking
refuge in our country. As president, I will:
Reject exclusionary policies based on race,
religion and nationality. I’ll reverse Trump’s bigoted Muslim Ban on my
first day in office. I’ll withdraw the Trump policy that forces
immigrant families to choose between staying together and ensuring their
children — many of whom are American citizens — have access to critical
services. And I’ll reinstate Temporary Protected Status designations and
Deferred Enforced Departure to protect individuals at risk in their home
countries, including migrants from the Caribbean and Africa that have built
lives and businesses in our country.
Raise the refugee cap. At a time
when 70 million are
displaced around the world, President Trump has abused his authority to lower
the refugee cap for the United States, admitting just over 22,000 refugees in
total last year. I’ll welcome 125,000 refugees in my first year, and ramping up
to at least 175,000 refugees per year by the end of my first term.
Affirm asylum protections. We should
welcome those fleeing violence, not imprison them in cages. As president, I
will reverse Trump’s efforts to stack the deck against asylum applicants. I’ll
ensure that asylum seekers can safely present themselves at ports of entry for
humane, efficient processing, including by ending the metering and “Remain in
Mexico” policies. I’ll restore President Obama’s promise to extend asylum for
those fleeing domestic or gang violence and affirm asylum protections for gender
identity and sexual orientation-based asylum claims. I’ll streamline processes
to eliminate the backlog of individuals waiting for an asylum adjudication. And
I’ll pardon those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because
no one should go to jail simply providing humanitarian aid to another person in
Legal Immigration and Establish a Fair and Achievable Path to Status
president, I’ll work to expand legal immigration. I’ll also take executive
action to provide a measure of protection for those who are undocumented, while
pursuing a legislative solution that provides a path to citizenship.
Expand legal immigration. America
should welcome more legal immigration — done in the right way and consistent
with our principles. We should use targeted immigration as a tool to create
jobs and businesses and grow our economy. We should reflect our values, which
means expanding family reunification and making it easier for relatives of
citizens and green card holders to come to the United States. We should put
American workers first by ensuring that workers already here get the first
opportunity to fill any available positions. We should empower workers, not
employers, by coupling any expansion of legal immigration with real
accountability on employers who break the rules, exploit workers, or don’t
adhere to basic labor standards. And we should be transparent and data-driven
in our immigration policies, using the best available information to identify
true needs in the labor force and to address those needs in a way that
incorporates the input of both workers and companies.
Make it easier for those eligible for citizenship
to naturalize. Today
over 9 million green card holders are eligible to apply for citizenship but
many have not chosen to naturalize due to unnecessary barriers, including the
cost of applications, the complexity of the process, and administrative issues
and backlogs. I’ll work to make it possible for everyone who is eligible to
naturalize to do so.
Reduce the family reunification backlog. As many as 4
million immigrants who are otherwise eligible to come to the United States
legally are prohibited because of by-country visa caps. My administration will
redistribute unused visas to reduce this backlog and reunite more families with
their loved ones. I’ll also urge Congress to repeal laws that make family
reunification more difficult to achieve.
Repeal the 3- and 10-year bars. The law
currently requires a person unlawfully in the United States to depart the
country for three or ten years before they can apply for legal status. I’ll
petition Congress to repeal that requirement. In the meantime, I’ll reinterpret
“extreme hardship” to include family separation, making it easier to obtain a
waiver allowing people to apply for legal status without having to leave the
country for an extended period of time.
Provide a fair and achievable pathway to
the good of our economy and our communities, it’s long past time to provide a
path forward for the approximately 11 million undocumented individuals
currently living and working in the Unites States. We should immediately
reinstate the DACA program and protections for our Dreamers and their families.
I’ll expand the program to cover more young people by extending the cut-off
date, eliminating the arbitrary application age requirement, and extending the
“minor” designation to anyone who was brought to the U.S. under the age of 18.
But Dreamers have families and communities that are productive, longtime
members of our American family and need protection too. The same is true of the
Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders. I’ll extend
the individual exercise of discretion to offer deferred action protections to
hardworking immigrants who have contributed to our country for years and have
built careers and families here. And I’ll push for a far-reaching legislative
fix that provides a fair but achievable path to citizenship for them.
Limit the penalties considered for status
of focusing on real threats means distinguishing between actual criminals and
law-abiding immigrants. We shouldn’t penalize people for prior convictions
under statutes that criminalize border crossing for the purpose of status
determinations. And we should establish a statute of limitations for how long a
misdemeanor will be considered as part of an individual’s immigration
adjudication. Citizens with minor, non-violent criminal records should not be
permanently excluded from being a part of American society — and immigrants
shouldn’t be, either.
Create an Office of New Americans. I’ll establish
an Office of New Americans dedicated to supporting new immigrants as they
transition into our society and economy, and task that office to draft a
national strategy for integration. We should provide English, civics, and
employment- focused classes and training for immigrants who want to enroll, and
work with faith groups and other community organizations to provide support
services for refugees and asylees, providing the tools to make it easier for
newcomers to integrate into their communities.
the Forces Displacing Migrants from Their Home Countries
has spiked around the world, the result of poverty, climate change, violence
and injustice. Migrants have come to our country fleeing naturaldisasters or conflicts that forced them from
recent years, many have fled north from the Northern Triangle. But the solution
to Central American migration isn’t placing children in cages, it’s stabilizing
the countries that families are risking their lives to escape. Rather than
addressing rampant corruption,
criminal gangs, and some of the
world’s highest rates of
gender-based violence, President Trump has cut off hundreds of millions of
dollars in aid for programs that provide vital support.
cannot fully address migration until we address its root causes. Now more than
ever, the United States must reclaim its role as the world’s beacon of hope —
and that means proposing bold and nuanced solutions to these complex
challenges. As president, I will:
Restore and increase aid. I’ll commit at
least $1.5 billion annually in aid to fully fund programs that target crime,
disrupt trafficking, address poverty, reduce sexual violence, and enhance
programs for at-risk youth in Central America and throughout our hemisphere —
and I’ll rally the international community to match those funds.
Step up efforts to address transnational crime. A Warren
administration will expand efforts to reduce corruption and improve the rule of
law, investigate and prosecute human trafficking, employ targeted financial
sanctions against drug kingpins and money launderers, and provide robust
funding for efforts to counter gangs.
Inform and protect those seeking refuge. My
administration will provide information about the right to seek asylum,
reinstate the Central American Minors program, and coordinate with the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help resettle children and families
who need protection. We’ll also do more to spread awareness about the dangers
of attempting migration across borders to help prevent vulnerable people from
being exploited along the way.
Bill Chalmers, the “ringmaster” and
Chief Experience Officer of the Global Scavenger Hunt, launches us on this around-the-world-in-23-days
mystery tour with what he calls a “chimpanzee test” – a test where a chimpanzee
is likely to get more answers right than a human being who has news and
information available to them. The test basically demonstrates that unlike the
gloom-and-doom of headlines, the trendlines are positive and these are actually
the best of times for human society.
Throughout this Global Scavenger Hunt, “A Blind Date With the World” – where we don’t know where we are going next until we are told when to go to the airport or get ourselves there, and along the way, complete scavenges and challenges – we are encouraged, even forced, to “trust in the kindness of strangers.” To interact with local people even when we can’t understand each other’s language. To learn and understand for ourselves.
For me, it is an incomparable
opportunity to see in close proximity and context what is happening in countries
literally around the globe – to examine this notion of American Exceptionalism,
America First; to see the scope of such hot-button issues as trade, technology,
migration and how they have played out over the longer course of human
civilization. (I have a theory that 98% of Trump’s so-called hard-core base
have never traveled beyond their own provincial border.)
As Chalmers notes, it is conceit to
think we can parachute into places and understand the nuances of complex
issues, but still, travel is about seeing for yourself, but also gaining an
understanding of one another, disabusing stereotypes or caricatures, and most
significantly, not seeing others as “other”, which works both ways. In very
real ways (and especially now), travelers are ambassadors, no less than
diplomats. Isolating people is not how change happens – that only hardens
points of view, and makes people susceptible to fear-mongering and all the bad
things that have happened throughout human history as a result. “See for
yourself,” Chalmers tells us.
This is particularly poignant when
we arrive in Myanmar: One of the first things I see upon arriving in
Yangon, Myanmar (formerly known as Rangoon in its colonial days) is the National
Human Rights Commission which at this juncture, strikes as ironic. But despite
the awful headlines, we all find the people of Myanmar to be kind, gentle,
considerate. And a complete lack of politics or angst.
And just after returning home, the
two prizewinning Reuters journalists imprisoned for their reporting of the
deadly crackdown on the Rohingya, were released.
Vietnam is a testament to the
resiliency of human society to rebound after wars and other crises (as we see
everywhere, in fact – in Spain, in Portugal, in Greece, places that suffered
during World War II, and you reflect on the success of the alliances that set
the stage for 70 years of progress, now being weakened). In Vietnam, visiting
the Chu Chi Tunnels and the War Remnants Museum, you cannot help but feel
ashamed at the war crimes that remain unpunished because of the wealth and
power of the United States.
In Gibraltar, still a colony of
Great Britain, I come upon a May Day labor rally that could have been New York
City: Privatization. Nonconsultation and lack of transparency. Unfair
distribution. Wage increases that don’t keep up with the cost of living.
Abu Dhabi is like a fantasy of a
society built on oil wealth, conspicuous ostentation, a gallery of skyscrapers
that defy physics; Amman, Jordan, on the other hand, is the real world. But my
side trip to Petra – a fantastic city carved out of the rock faces, showed how
greatness is made possible by innovations in engineering a water supply. Petra
was able to dominate (and protect) the caravan routes, and the result was
fabulous art and culture.
This theme picked up again in
Athens, visiting the National Archaeological Museum, where I am struck by the
artistry from 2500 years ago (themes and imagery that I will see again repeated
throughout history on our final stop in New York City, at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art) and realize that the human species is not smarter or better than
thousands of years ago, we just have better tools and technology.
But this panel about 6th Century
Greece stood out that notes the nexus between trade, migration, innovation,
democracy and culture and rise of empire:
“The nature of the economy underwent
a radical change as a result of the growth of trade. A new class of citizens
emerged who were conscious of liberty and its potential and now demanded the
right to play an active role in the running of public affairs….The liberty
that was characteristic of the Greek way of life and which governed their
thinking finds eloquent expression in their artistic creations. …Works of art
and artists moved freely along the trade routes. The wealth and power of the
city-states were expressed in the erection of monumental, lavishly adorned
temples and impressive public welfare works.
“Greeks turned their attention to
the natural world and to phenomena that gave rise to philosophical speculation,
formulative ideas such as those of matter, the atom, force, space and time, and
laying the foundations of science…”
But then came the rise of the
Persian Empire and the Persian Wars.
These themes are repeated in New
York City where our “Global Scavenger Hunt” ends. At the Metropolitan
Museum of Art where the challenge I take is to find objects from five of the
countries we visited, and this leads me to a fascinating exhibit, “The World
Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East.” The museum
rarely (if ever) becomes political, but in this exhibit, archaeologists comment
on the destruction of Palmyra and other ancient sites by ISIS.
“It may seem frivolous to focus on
monuments, museums when people are enslaved and killed. But to wipe out,
destroy culture is a way of destroying people. We must protect heritage as
It is a humbling experience, to be
sure, to go to the origins of the great civilizations, fast forward to today.
How did they become great? How did they fall? Greatness is not inevitable or
forever. Empires rise and fall. Rulers use religion, art and monuments to
establish their credibility and credentials to rule; successors blot out the
culture and re-write history. Traveling around the world, you appreciate just
what a small world it is, how interdependent we are, how vulnerable our
societies are, and that individuals do have impact. Also, that people
everywhere are more similar than different.
I come back to a monstrously
disturbing New York Times headline: “Humans Are Speeding Extinction and
Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace:”
“Humans are transforming Earth’s
natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal
species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that
people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United
Nations assessment has concluded.”
In this case, headlines are
trendlines. And it isn’t just about aesthetics or seeing animals like the
Barbary Macaques that delight tourists in Gibraltar, but whole economies and
sustenance. It is a matter of national security, peace and progress. It is
about food and water supply, disease, habitable spaces. Sea level rise alone is
expected to trigger 300 million climate refugees, competing for dwindling
resources. There have been periods of mass extinction in the past – in fact,
homo sapiens (us) were touch and go there for awhile.
Chalmers started off our “Blind Date
With the World” with the Nicholas Kristof model, that these are actually the
best of times for human society despite the gloom and doom headlines. But I
disagree: the trendlines are not that hopeful. We may well be living in a golden
age of human capacity, but we must recognize that we now have the power of the
Gods to shape, to destroy or to create. And we seem too short-sighted to see
“Governments must start putting
people and the planet ahead of corporate interests and greed and act with the
urgency this report illustrates,” writes Annie Leonard, Executive Director,
Greenpeace USA. “Leaders must adopt strong targets and implementation plans to
protect biodiversity with the active participation and Free, Prior, and Informed
Consent of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Instead of plundering the
forests and seas for short-term profit we need to shift our system into one
that respects planetary boundaries.”
The Greek Gods may well have the
last laugh at the extraordinary ability humans have to destroy themselves.