So this is what a competent, caring government administration looks like! The widely heralded mass chaos after Title 42 was lifted failed to produce the “invasion” of the southern border that right wing politicians hoped for, indeed, did all they could to insure would come to pass. It did not, largely because of the comprehensive steps the Biden Administration took to secure the border, even in face of Republican obstruction. It also provides a sense of what a rational, humane, ongoing immigration policy would look like. But it is important to recognize that not never or ever did President Biden, President Obama, President Clinton or the Democrats advocate for “open borders.” What they have advocated for going back decades, is a rationale, humane policy Here is a memo outlining the steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to secure the border, while Congress ties the administration’s hands and Congressional Republicans maneuver to make things that much worse and needlessly painful. I’m betting you haven’t heard a peep about any of it—Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Pentagon is sending up to 1500 troops to support Border Patrol and supporting a massive counter-smuggling operation in the Darien Gap. The Department of Homeland Security is expanding detention capacity, surging resources and technology to support border communities, and deploying hundreds more asylum officers and immigration judges to quickly and humanely process migrants. The State Department is opening Regional Processing Centers across the Western Hemisphere to direct migrants to lawful pathways and reduce unlawful immigration.
This is a plan that draws on measures we know work, but it is also a plan constrained by the fact that, not only has Congress dealt us a bad hand, House Republicans are actively trying to make things worse.
After spending four years helping former President Trump gut our immigration system and the last two years blocking the reforms and funds to fix it, Speaker McCarthy and MAGA Republicans are taking an even more extreme turn to undermine border security. They voted to take 2,000 Border Patrol agents off the federal payroll. They opposed increased funding for border security. And their colleagues in the states are in court trying to block measures that are actually bringing unlawful immigration down.
The impact? A more porous border with less enforcement. President Biden won’t allow it.
1. THE BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINSITRATION HAS A COMPREHENSIVE, MULTI-AGENCY, MULTI-COUNTRY PLAN TO MANAGE THE BORDER.
The Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense are using the tools available to prepare and take steps to manage the border in a safe, orderly, and humane manner.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s plan is rooted in enforcement.
When Title 42 lifts, DHS will return to processing migrants using Title 8 expedited removal authorities. Individuals without a legal basis to stay will be promptly removed, barred from re-entry for five years, and face potential criminal prosecution.
Multiple agencies are taking steps to prepare for this transition and enforce long-standing immigration laws, including:
DOD is sending 1,500 troops to the border (bringing the total to 4,000 troops), and DHS is bringing on thousands of contractors and non-uniformed employees to support in administrative tasks to free up the agency’s 24,000 agents and officers to focus on frontline duties.
DHS and DOJ is surging hundreds more asylum officers and immigration judges to the border to expedite processing times from months to days. Credible Fear Interviews will take place early in the process, while in CBP or ICE custody with the ability to access to legal services, enabling DHS to quickly remove those who don’t have a legal basis to remain.
DHS is vastly expanding holding capacity and ICE substantially scaling up the number of weekly removal flights, with the number of flights doubling or tripling for some countries.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s plan is rooted in deterrence.
The transition back to Title 8 processing for all individuals encountered at the border will be effective immediately when the Title 42 order lifts. Individuals who unlawfully cross the U.S. Southwest border will be processed in a matter of days, barred from reentry for at least five years if ordered removed, and would be presumed ineligible for asylum under a proposed regulation, absent an applicable exception
To help individuals avoid these consequences and direct them to the many lawful pathways we have expanded over the past two years, State and DHS are:
Opening Regional Processing Centers in key locations in the Western Hemisphere to reduce irregular migration and rapidly process eligible individuals for lawful pathways to the United States, Canada, Spain, and other countries
Surging the presence of Panamanian, Colombian, and American personnel to the Darien to reclaim authority of this region and root out the criminal smuggling networks
Ramping up efforts to counter lies and disinformation spread by human traffickers through sophisticated, targeted social media advertising campaigns and collaboration with independent influencers throughout the region
Expanding access to the CBPOne App for noncitizens to schedule an appointment to arrive at a port of entry rather than trying to enter between ports
Creating new family reunification parole processes for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia as an additional lawful pathway
Doubling the number of refugees from the Western Hemisphere as an additional lawful pathway
Accepting up to 30,000 individuals per month from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti as part of the expanded parole processes announced earlier this year
Imposing consequences for migrants who fail to use lawful pathways, including a five-year bar on reentry and presumption of ineligibility for asylum under a proposed regulation
The Biden-Harris Administration’s plan is rooted in diplomacy.
One country alone cannot manage this regional challenge. The State Department is bringing multiple countries together to jointly manage this challenge and implement these measures.
Our diplomatic efforts are producing results:
We secured repatriation agreements from countries in the Western Hemisphere, including diplomatic efforts with Mexico to quickly remove individuals who cannot be returned to their countries of origin
Mexico and the United States are stepping up joint enforcement actions to counter-human smugglers and traffickers that are exploiting migrants.
Mexico and the United States will redouble their development efforts that focus on people-to-people support.
2.CONGRESS DEALT US A BAD HAND, AND CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS ARE TRYING TO MAKE IT WORSE.
Multiple federal agencies are working to manage the border using the tools they have. But Congress needs to update our immigration laws, pure and simple. And it’s not like Congress hasn’t had the opportunity:
In 2013, the Senate on a bipartisan basis passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, but House Republicans refused to take up the bill.
In 2018, a bipartisan group of Senators advanced the Uniting and Securing America Act to protect Dreamers and provide pathway to citizenship, but Senate Republicans blocked it.
Again in 2018, the Senate tried to advance the United and Securing America Act “Common Sense” Proposal Amendment, but Senate Republicans blocked it.
Yet again in 2018, the Uniting and Securing America Act made it to the Senate floor, but was blocked.
In 2019, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act, but Senate Republicans blocked it.
In 2021, the House again passed the American Dream and Promise Act, but Senate Republicans again blocked it.
In 2021 and 2022, the President proposed record funding for more border agents, more asylum officers, more immigration judges, more border technology, and more detention capacity. Republicans in Congress failed to fund these both requests.
Our immigration laws are so bad and outdated that Border Patrol agents can’t even issue electronic notices to migrants and instead have to create a paper file on each and every migrant that crosses our southern border. It’s absurd. Republicans in Congress have failed the American people by repeatedly blocking solutions.
But what’s even more outrageous is that not only has Congress dealt us a bad hand, House Republicans are actively trying to make things worse.
We requested $4.9 billion for border security and management. Congress only gave us half of that.
This was funding to expand detention capacity and beds, provide medical services, and surge personnel.
It was funding to help track migrants as they await their immigration proceedings, ramp up removal flights, and move migrants out of cities facing a significant surge.
We requested more Border Patrol agents. Instead,House Republicans recently passed a bill to fire 2,000 agents and next week are advancing a bill that would force Americans to waste even more money on a wall that migrants are cutting through, climbing over, and digging under – and that Mexico definitely did not pay for.
President Biden requested record border security funding to keep 24,000 Border Patrol agents and officers on payroll – and hire hundreds more.
House Republicans not only vastly increased that funding in the FY22 and FY23 funding packages, but actually passed a bill to cut 2,000 Border Patrol agents at a time when we’re preparing for a surge.
We implemented measures that brought unlawful immigration down significantly. Republican elected officials ran to court to try to block those measures.
Within weeks of us announcing new border enforcement measures, the number of people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela crossing unlawfully declined by 97%.
20 states filed a federal lawsuit to block these measures. If they get their way, there will be a surge of unlawful border crossings like no other.
We’re expediting the immigration process to quickly remove individuals who don’t have a lawful basis to stay. Governor Abbott is instead busing those migrants to cities all across America, making this work harder.
We’re taking thousands of smugglers off the streets and ramping up efforts to counter their misinformation. Republican elected officials are driving additional profits to criminal smugglers by ramping up their false “open borders” rhetoric.
House Republicans are pushing a MAGA agenda of chaos and inaction. They are playing politics when they should be joining the President in pursuing real solutions, – and they should answer for their repeated attempts to open our borders.
Meanwhile, the Administration took a stance to oppose HR2-Secure the Border Act of 2023 (Rep.Diaz-Balart, R-FL, and 15 cosponsors. Here is the statement from the Office of Management & Budget, issued May 8:
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY H.R. 2 – Secure the Border Act of 2023 (Rep. Diaz-Balart, R-FL, and 15 cosponsors)
The Administration strongly supports productive efforts to reform the Nation’s immigration system but opposes H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023, which makes elements of our immigration system worse. A successful border management strategy must include robust enforcement at the border of illegal crossings, deterrence to discourage illegal immigration, and legal pathways to ensure that those in need of protection are not turned away to face death or serious harm.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s approach to border management is grounded in this strategy – expanding legal pathways while increasing consequences for illegal pathways, which helps maintain safe, orderly, and humane border processing. However, the Administration is limited in what it can achieve by an outdated statutory framework and inadequate resources, particularly in this time of unprecedented global movement. H.R. 2 does nothing to address the root causes of migration, reduces humanitarian protections, and restricts lawful pathways, which are critical alternatives to unlawful entry.
The bill would cut off nearly all access to humanitarian protections in ways that are inconsistent with our Nation’s values and international obligations. In addition, the bill would make processing less efficient by prohibiting the use of the CBP One mobile application to process noncitizens and restricting DHS’s parole authority, such that successful programs, like “Uniting for Ukraine,” would be prohibited. The bill would also reduce authorized funding for essential programs including the Shelter and Services Program that provides a critical source of funds for state and local governments and reduces pressure at the border.
While we welcome Congress’ engagement on meaningful steps to address immigration and the challenges at the border, this bill would make things worse, not better. Because this bill does very little to actually increase border security while doing a great deal to trample on the Nation’s core values and international obligations, it should be rejected.
If the President were presented with H.R. 2, he would veto it.
This fact sheet on President Biden’s plan to expand health coverage and other support to DACA recipients was provided by the White House:
In 2012, President Obama and then Vice President Biden announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to allow young people to live and work in the only country they know as home. Over the last decade, DACA has brought stability, possibility, and progress to more than 800,000 Dreamers.
President Biden believes that DACA recipients strengthen our economy and enrich our workplaces, our schools and communities, and our country as a whole. That’s why on his first day in office, he called on Congress to give Dreamers a pathway to citizenship and he has repeated that call every State of the Union address since. While Congress has failed to act, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant measures to protect Dreamers. This includes, issuing regulations by the Department of Homeland Security to “preserve and fortify” DACA and fighting political opponents in court as they attempt to strip them of the only home they have ever known.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to providing Dreamers the opportunities and support they need succeed. President Biden is announcing a plan to expand health coverage for DACA recipients. The Department of Health and Human Services will shortly propose a rule amending the definition of “lawful presence,” for purposes of Medicaid and Affordable Care Act coverage, to include DACA recipients. We recognize that every day counts, and we expect to get this done by the end of the month. If finalized, the rule will make DACA recipients eligible for these programs for the first time. Under the proposed rule, DACA recipients will be able to apply for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, where they may qualify for financial assistance based on income, and through their state Medicaid agency. Like all other enrollees, eligibility information will be verified electronically when individuals apply for coverage.
President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that health care should be a right, not a privilege. Together, they promised to protect and strengthen the ACA and Medicaid, lowering costs and expanding coverage so that every American has the peace of mind that health insurance brings. The President’s announcement gives DACA recipients that same opportunity, as the Administration continues to urge Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship to Dreamers, providing them the ultimate peace of mind they need and deserve.
While we wait for Congress to act, and although there are some restrictions on the availability of benefits for DACA recipients, DACA recipients should take note of the numerous Federal programs, opportunities, and resources that have been and continue to be available to them:
Experiential Learning, National Service, and Employment Opportunities:
AmeriCorps VISTA Program. DACA recipients are eligible to serve in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, which provides participants with an opportunity to assist local organizations in alleviating poverty. Participants serve in a full-time position for one year and earn related benefits such as a living allowance, professional development and training, and a cash stipend. Find a VISTA service opportunity here.
American Job Centers. DACA recipients with work authorization can access many programs within American Job Centers, which help job seekers obtain employment and training to further their careers. American Job Centers provide counseling, skill and ability assessments, and advice on in-demand jobs and potential training opportunities. Locate an American Job Center here.
Job Corps. DACA recipients with work authorization may qualify for Job Corps, a no-cost education and vocational training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, which helps individuals ages 16-24 improve the quality of their lives by empowering them to secure good jobs and become independent. Job Corps students have access to room and board while they learn skills in specific training areas. Learn more about Job Corps here.
YouthBuild. DACA recipients with work authorization may qualify for YouthBuild, a pre-apprenticeship program for certain individuals ages 16-24. At YouthBuild’s 275 locations across the country, participants learn vocational skills in construction and other in-demand industries—including health care, information technology, and hospitality—while also earning their high school or equivalent degree, preparing them for opportunities such as college, Registered Apprenticeships, and employment. Information on YouthBuild is here.
National Farmworker Jobs Program. DACA recipients with work authorization who are engaged in agricultural work may benefit from the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP), which offers services for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and certain family members within the network of American Job Centers. Career Services and Training grants can help farmworkers gain skills, advance in agricultural jobs, or find employment in new industries. Housing grants assist farmworkers in finding safe and sanitary permanent or temporary housing. Access NFJP resources here.
ARP Good Jobs Challenge. The Economic Development Administration’s American Rescue Plan: Good Jobs Challenge within the U.S. Department of Commerce is an investment in high-quality, locally led workforce systems to expand career opportunities and good-paying jobs for American workers, including DACA recipients, to achieve economic mobility and security. Awards under the Good Jobs Challenge have been granted to diverse worker-centered training partnerships and systems across the country spanning 31 states and Puerto Rico. The program also focuses on removing systemic barriers to employment through support services such as childcare, transportation, and paid on-the-job training opportunities. Access Good Job Challenge resources here.
Dept. of Education Resources. The Department of Education has a Resource Guide for schools, colleges, and teachers to support the to support the educational and career success of DACA recipients in secondary and postsecondary education, as well as comprehensive educational resources for DACA students available here.
Assistance with Renting or Purchasing a Home:
FHA Financing. DACA recipients are eligible to apply for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured financing for FHA Title II Single Family forward mortgage programs. FHA programs insure private loans made by FHA-approved lenders and FHA-backed loans can help reduce down payments for a home or condominium.
Housing, Rental, and Credit Counseling Services. DACA recipients can receive free or low-cost advice on buying a home, renting, preventing default, avoiding mortgage default and foreclosure, transitioning from homelessness, budgeting or through HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. Locate a HUD-approved housing counseling agency here or by calling 800-569-4287. Services are available in many languages, including Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese.
Tax Credits, Financial Education and Consumer Protection:
CFPB Resources. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides detailed, targeted consumer tools, financial education resources in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and plain language publications to assist all individuals, including DACA recipients, in making informed financial decisions. CFPB can help answer hundreds of financial questions including questions on loans, credit, bank accounts, debt collection, and more.
Consumer Complaints. Consumers, regardless of immigration status, may submit a complaint through CFPB about financial products and services offered by companies, including checking and savings accounts, credit cards, debt collection and settlement, money transfers, virtual currency and more. Most companies respond within 15 days. Complaints can be submitted online or by phone and interpreting services are available by phone in 180 languages.
CFPB Immigrant Initiative. CFPB recently-launched an engagement and policy initiative aimed at using the Bureau’s tools and authorities to support immigrant families in accessing opportunities to build wealth and contribute to their communities. If you or your family have an experience to share about financial barriers faced by immigrants, please share your story.
FTC Consumer Alerts. All individuals can monitor current and past consumer scams through the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Alerts system. Sign up here to receive alerts about the latest scams FTC has identified.
Health and Well-Being:
HRSA Health Centers. DACA recipients can access health care through Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Health Centers, which provide affordable, accessible, quality primary health care to patients regardless of ability to pay, insurance status, or immigration status. HRSA Health Centers are located in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin. Locate a Health Center here.
Public Health Programs. DACA recipients can also access public health programs that provide certain immunizations or treatment of communicable diseases.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Support. MotherToBaby, a program funded by HRSA, provides expert, confidential, and no-cost information about the impact of medications, drugs, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. DACA recipients and their families can access these services, which are provided in English and Spanish, through the organization’s website, by calling 866-626-6847, or texting 855-999-3525.
Maternal Mental Health Support. The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline (1-833-943-5746) provides free, confidential, 24/7 emotional support, resources, and counseling referrals to pregnant and postpartum individuals facing mental health challenges, and their loved ones. Support is available over the phone and text in English and Spanish. Interpreter services are available in 60 additional languages and a relay service is available for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Special Health Needs. Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2F HICs) are located in all 50 States and U.S. territories and provide support, information, resources, and training for families of children and youth with special health care needs, including on specific health issues, family-centered care, and shared decision making (SDM). Find an F2F center in your area here.
Nutrition Assistance. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding individuals, as well as infants and children under 5, with food, nutrition and breastfeeding education, and referrals to health and social services. Eligibility is determined by categorical, residential, income, and nutrition risk requirements. Learn how to apply for WIC here or by calling a state, toll-free number found here.
Military Veterans and Active-Duty Servicemember Resources:
Veterans Benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides benefits and other assistance to all eligible Veterans regardless of their immigration status. More information for Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors is available here or can be accessed by calling 1-800-MyVA411 (1800-698-2411) which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Free Legal Assistance. All active-duty military personnel and their dependents, as well as certain Reserve and National Guard Soldiers and retirees, are eligible for free legal assistance, including immigration and naturalization legal services. More information on Air Force Legal Assistance is available here, Army Legal Assistance here, Navy and Marine Legal Services here, and Coast Guard Legal Services here.
New Measures Leverage Success of Venezuela Enforcement Initiative to Limit Disorderly and Unsafe Migration
Republicans love to rail against the Biden Administration – even threatening impeachment – and Democrats over the “border crisis,” but the fact is that President Joe Biden, like President Barack Obama before him, have tried over and over to enact policies and procedures to address the influx of people LAWFULLY making a claim of asylum. Republicans are making hay – even as they are incapable of electing a Speaker of the House – over “open border” but it is the Democrats who have proposed rational, humane processes that have, in fact, accounted for 2.7 million taken into custody in 2022 – the vast majority fleeing climate disasters, gang violence – immediately repatriating 45 percent.
The people who were essentially human trafficked by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in Washington DC, and to New York City and other “blue” state sanctuary cities were not “illegal aliens” but people who were processed for a hearing, as international and federal law requires. Meanwhile, Republicans have not come up with any plan to address the flood of desperate people who are legally entitled to seek refuge, but instead, have obstructed any comprehensive reform effort, refused to adopt the DREAM Act, even going to court to overturn the Obama-era DACA program that gives people who were brought to the US as children and spent their entire lives in the US legal status to go to school, college and work.
Obama was forced to issue his DACA policy since the Republicans in Congress refused to consider the bipartisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, which did exactly what was asked: spent a ton of money on border enforcement. But Republicans refused to provide any path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented people living for years in the US until the border was sealed shut. An impossibility of which they were well aware.
Republicans are not satisfied with any immigration “reform” that does not include taking toddlers and infants from the arms of their mothers, and turning them into orphans, putting children in cages, allows migrant women to be sterilized against their will.
President Biden has issued his latest plan for border enforcement, that includes sending more immigration judges and social services to these border entry sites. Here is a White House Fact Sheet–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
While the courts have prevented the Title 42 public health order from lifting for now, the Biden-Harris Administration today is announcing new enforcement measures to increase security at the border and reduce the number of individuals crossing unlawfully between ports of entry. These measures will expand and expedite legal pathways for orderly migration and result in new consequences for those who fail to use those legal pathways. They also draw on the success of the Venezuela initiative, which launched in October 2022 and has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of Venezuelan nationals attempting to enter the United States unlawfully.
The Administration is also announcing that it is surging additional resources to the border and the region, scaling up its anti-smuggling operations, and expanding coordination and support for border cities and non-governmental organizations. Importantly, the actions announced today are being implemented in close partnership with Mexico and governments across the Western Hemisphere.
While these steps will help address some of the most acute challenges at the Southwest border, they will not solve all of the problems in an immigration system that has been broken for far too long. That can only happen if Republicans in Congress who have spent the past two years talking about border security quit blocking the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden proposed on his first day in office, and opposing the billions of dollars in additional funds the President has requested for border security and management.
Unlike some Republican officials playing political games and obstructing real solutions to fix our broken immigration system, President Biden has a plan and is taking action. Under the new enforcement measures announced today, the Biden-Harris Administration will:
Impose New Consequences for Individuals who Attempt to Enter Unlawfully
Increasing the Use of Expedited Removal. Effective immediately, individuals who attempt to enter the United States without permission, do not have a legal basis to remain, and cannot be expelled pursuant to Title 42 will be increasingly subject to expedited removal to their country of origin and subject to a five-year ban on reentry.
Announcing New Measures to Encourage Individuals to Seek Orderly and Lawful Pathways to Migration. DHS and the Department of Justice today are announcing their intent to propose a new regulation that would encourage individuals to seek orderly and lawful pathways to migration and reduce overcrowding along the southwest border and the strain on the immigration system.
Expand Legal Pathways for Safe, Orderly, and Humane Migration
The Biden-Harris Administration and its international partners in the region are also announcing new and expanded legal pathways to the United States and other countries that individuals can and should use to avoid consequences for crossing the border unlawfully. These include:
Expanding the Parole Process for Venezuelans to Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans. Today, the Biden Administration is announcing it will extend the successful Venezuela parole process and expand it to nationals of Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba. Up to 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries, who have an eligible sponsor and pass vetting and background checks, can come to the United States for a period of two years and receive work authorization. Individuals who irregularly cross the Panama, Mexico, or U.S. border after the date of this announcement will be ineligible for the parole process and will be subject to expulsion to Mexico, which will accept returns of 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries who fail to use these new pathways.
Tripling Refugee Resettlement from the Western Hemisphere. The Biden-Harris Administration intends to welcome up to 20,000 refugees from Latin American and Caribbean countries during Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024, putting the United States on pace to more than triple refugee admissions from the Western Hemisphere this Fiscal Year alone. This delivers on the President’s commitment under the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection to scale up refugee admissions from the Western Hemisphere.
Launching Online Appointment Portal to Reduce Overcrowding and Wait Times at U.S. Ports of Entry. When Title 42 eventually lifts, noncitizens located in Central and Northern Mexico seeking to enter the United States lawfully through a U.S. port of entry have access to the CBP One mobile application for scheduling an appointment to present themselves for inspection and to initiate a protection claim instead of coming directly to a port of entry to wait. This new feature will significantly reduce wait times and crowds at U.S. ports of entry and allow for safe, orderly, and humane processing.
New Legal Pathways to Other Countries Across the Region. Countries across the Western Hemisphere are delivering on their commitments under the Los Angeles Declaration to expand legal immigration pathways. Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Belize are each implementing new regularization or temporary protection policies to provide legal status to hundreds of thousands of migrants. Canada, Mexico, and Spain have expanded refugee resettlement and temporary work opportunities. Mexico and Guatemala have also significantly grown their asylum system. Individuals are encouraged to avail themselves of this wide range of legal pathways in the region and avoid the dangerous consequences of irregular migration.
Increasing Humanitarian Assistance in Mexico and Central America. The United States is announcing today nearly $23 million in additional humanitarian assistance in Mexico and Central America. This new assistance will help governments in the region respond to the increased humanitarian and protection needs of migrants, refugees and other vulnerable populations in their care. Recognizing that no one country can respond to these needs alone, this assistance will help support shelter, health, legal assistance, mental health and psychosocial support, water, sanitation, hygiene products, gender-based violence response, livelihoods, other protection related activities, and capacity building for partners.
Surge Resources to Secure the Border, Disrupt Criminal Smuggling Networks, and Support Border Communities
The Biden-Harris Administration is surging resources and expanding efforts to securely manage the border, disrupt the criminal smuggling networks preying on vulnerable migrants, and support communities receiving migrants as they await their immigration enforcement proceedings. New and expanded efforts include:
Mobilizing Record Resources for Safe, Orderly, and Humane Processing of Migrants. The Biden Administration is marshalling available authorities and resources from across the Federal Government to help ensure the border is secure and well-managed when the Title 42 public health order eventually lifts. DHS and DOJ are surging asylum officers and immigration judges to review asylum cases at the border more quickly – with the aim of reducing initial processing times from months to days. The two agencies are also expanding capabilities and technologies to support faster processing, including by installing hundreds of phone lines and privacy booths to conduct these interviews and proceedings. DHS is also hiring and deploying additional agents and officers to join the over 23,000 already working to secure the border. In addition, DHS is significantly scaling up its air and ground transportation capabilities to quickly remove migrants when warranted or transport migrants to less-congested border sectors for further immigration enforcement proceedings.
Taking Thousands of Smugglers off the Streets and Countering Smuggler Misinformation. In Los Angeles earlier this year, President Biden announced a first-of-its kind operation against the multi-billion-dollar human smuggling industry. Since April, this operation has led to over 7,300 arrests, forcing many criminal smuggling organizations out of business. The Administration is also taking on the smuggler misinformation. The Department of State is expanding its paid and earned media outreach to ensure timely and accurate information is reaching migrants. Messaging and outreach will target high out-migration communities and migrant routes through relevant communications channels (e.g., radio, digital, trusted partners, and more.) with an estimated reach of over 85 million potential migrants
Expanding Coordination with and Support for Border Cities, Receiving Communities, and Non-Governmental Organizations. The Biden-Harris Administration is increasing funding available to border cities and those cities receiving an influx of migrants, in addition to strengthening ongoing coordination and collaboration across all levels of government. DHS is also expanding outreach efforts with local jurisdictions to provide coordination of resources and technical assistance support and the Administration has been facilitating coordination between state and local officials and other federal agencies. Additionally, the Administration will continue to mobilize faith-based and non-profit organizations supporting migrants, including those providing temporary shelter, food, and humanitarian assistance before often reuniting with family as they await the outcome of their immigration proceedings.
The Biden-Harris Administration will do everything within its authority and available resources to manage this challenge, but until and unless Congress delivers the funding as well as comprehensive immigration reform measures President Biden requested, the United States’ broken immigration system will indeed remain broken.
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
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.
Some 22,000 New Yorkers joined a protest march and rally against the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy of separating children from parents and incarcerating families seeking asylum. The march that started at Foley Square in downtown Manhattan, continued across the Brooklyn Bridge, and finished with a rally in Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.
Here are highlights:
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union: “It’s bad enough those who control government would turn their backs on those fleeing violence, turn out people living here for decades, but that the country I love so much could commit such atrocities against children, all in the service of a warped agenda. We won a court order to force the government to reunite families in 30 days. It was an important victory but we know this regime won’t comply unless we force them to…. Take back our country. Fight back in courts, on the streets and damn it, at the ballot box.”
Carola Bracco, Executive Director, Neighbors Link: “Today is not just about immigrant rights, it is about human rights. This is not who we are as a country. This is not a country I recognize. I can’t imagine anything more devastating than having a child forcibly taken, then having to search. From this chaos, strong leaders are emerging, committed to changing course. We are here to fight for liberty, to live with dignity. Together we will change the trajectory of this country.”
Jennifer Jones Austin, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies: “Freedom is about saying no to a lie, vetoeing an untruth. Say no to the lies of this administration; veto the untruth of saying separating children is for our own good.
Estela Vasquez, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU: “Mobilize, march, protest until we stop this stupid policy of zero tolerance. Scorch Agent Orange in the white House. We are not fooled by a phony executive order. Separating children, incarcerating children is no different from what the Nazis in Germany did in the 1930s, what we did to Japanese in World War II. Zero tolerance for poverty, for police brutality, for inhumanity.”
Hector Figuerola, SEIU: These migrants are running away from the conditions the US created in the first place. 66% of our union are foreign born. “The labor movement has to stand against these attacks on immigrant families. They are not ‘them’. They are us. Fight for children not to be jailed, but free. Stand for families everywhere. This doesn’t end today. For families who suffer loss of a child to police brutality or street violence. Fight for all families. Start with immigrants being dehumanized by this administration. Imagine what it will be if we were to connect the struggle of all the resistence against Trump – labor, women’s movement, those seeking freedom for everyone. Our fight is the fight of people. Let’s fight and let’s win.
Padma Lakshmi, Author and Television Host: I am an immigrant, a daughter of an immigrant single mother. This is an issue of common decency and humanity, defining who we want to be as a nation. This country was built on labor and sweat of immigrants. That’s what makes America great. Trump is sowing generations of hatred.”
Omolara Uwemedimo, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, a daughter of Nigerian immigrants and a mother of two, described the physical and mental toll that may last a lifetime on children being subjected to the trauma of being forcibly separated and incarcerated. There is also the toxic stress on those living in fear of a government taking undocumented parents away from a family. “Family detention is not a solution, it is child abuse and I am a mandated reporter. I am reporting the Trump Administration for abuse of black and brown children.”
Flor Reyes, DACA Recipient, with her brother, Elvis, described the constant terror of a family of “mixed status,” where parents could be deported while children are DACA recipients or American citizens must fend for themselves.
Perla Lopez, Youth member, Make the Road New York, recalled her flight with her mother, fleeing with five children and her detention. “It was almost 10 years ago but is still traumatic.”
Comedian and actor Amy Schumer: “We were so excited election night when we thought Hillary would be president. Then Hell opened up.”
Rama Issa, Executive Director, Arab American Association of NY, was one of 633 women arrested in Washington DC demanding the government abolish ICE.
Shannon Stagman, Leader, Empire State Indivisible: “Pick up the phone and call your representatives every day. Donating is good, but also knock on doors. Voting is good, but also help others vote.”
Murad Awawdeh, VP of Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition, provided a list of action items: Fight. Stay informed (text NYIC 864237 for alerts); Call legislators. Support organizations (donate, volunteer). And “vote for those who share our values.”
Other speakers included:
Rev. Chloe Breyer, Interfaith Center of NY
Alison Hirsh, Vice President and Political Director, SEIU 32BJ
Ravi Ragbir, Leader, New Sanctuary Coalition
Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network
Kerry Washington, Actor, Producer and Activist
Imam Suhaib Webb, Resident Scholar, Islamic Center NYU
Among the electeds participating in the march: U.S. House Representatives Yvette Clarke, Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velázquez, Jerrold Nadler, and Adriano Espaillat, as well as numerous state and local representatives.
Instead of pursuing a constructive, humanitarian solution to immigration reform, Donald Trump purposefully undertakes the cruelest, most brutal and destructive power-play – because he can. Because he thinks this will fire up his base since they are getting wise that his tax “cut” is really a scam. And because he has dictator envy.
But while Trump moved with great urgency and speed to literally kidnap children from their parents in order to hold them for ransom to get his equally brutal and destructive immigration “reform” that would restrict even legal immigration (and $25 billion for a useless wall), his administration could care less about setting up the mechanisms to assure the children – moved hundreds and thousands of miles away – can be restored to their parents. As it is, there are parents who are being immediately deported without their children, some too young to know their own name or speak, who are lost in a system.
In fact, this plan – to use torture as a “deterrent” –under the guise of “Zero Tolerance” was hatched in the first few weeks after Trump’s inauguration, embraced by John Kelly, then Homeland Security secretary. It is also on view with the way he has unleashed deportation raids, snatching those with American spouses and children, cancelled legal status of refugees who have lived in the US for decades.
It’s remarkable to contemplate (since the administration isn’t saying) how much money is being spent on this sadistic policy – one private prison operator has a contract for $500 million – and who in the Trump orbit is pocketing the millions and millions of tax dollars.
But let’s be reminded: the reason there are so many undocumented immigrants (11 million by some accounts) and so many thousands crossing “illegally” (though just 20% from the peak) is because the Republicans have effectively shut down legal immigration and refused to take up Comprehensive Immigration reform.
If this really were about controlling illegal immigration, the Trump administration would have spent those millions staffing ports of entry, setting up immigration courts, and creating detention centers that could accommodate families. They could release parents with an ankle bracelet (as they did under Obama) so they could be tracked; 99% of immigrants turn up to their court hearings.
Other presidents appropriately tried to deal with the problem at their source: the heinous violence that has prompted these parents to flee with only what they could carry, taking their children on the most perilous 2,000-mile journey – violence the US bred with the export of MS-13 from Los Angeles. That was one of the reasons for NAFTA – to improve the living standard in Mexico through trade – and it worked to a great extent (the refugees aren’t coming from Mexico, in fact, more Mexicans are leaving than are coming). Obama, faced with an unprecedented flood of refugees seeking asylum, thousands of unaccompanied teenagers among them, attempted to improve conditions in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador (along with an information campaign to discourage people from coming). Indeed, the numbers of those being apprehended at the border fell sharply, from a peak of 1.6 million in 2001, to 300,000 in 2017 – hardly an invasion, or “infestation” in the White Nationalist language that Trump spews or a “crisis” except by Trump’s own concoction. Instead, Trump has said he would cut off aid to these countries, which would only exacerbate the desperation.
Trump has no such interest in actually solving a problem, certainly not improving the lives of others. And he thinks his Zero Tolerance policy plays well to his (deplorables) base, especially since they are catching on to the Republican tax scam that redistributed $1.5 trillion from working families into the pockets of the already obscenely rich and corporations (83% going to top 1%, a mere 4% of workers receiving a bonus or pay hike because of tax cuts).
So he needs to motivate his base somehow, and is literally handing them red meat.
His fear-mongering, which mimics the propaganda campaign used by Nazis, brands immigrants as “animals,” “infestation,” “aliens” “invaders” stealing jobs and harming the economy in order to dehumanize them. In fact, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than “native born,” and even a study by the Trump Administration found that instead of “costing” jobs, immigrants added $63 billion to the US economy over a 10-year period (the report was suppressed because of its finding, and leaked to the New York Times two months later). And aren’t we constantly told that unemployment is at record lows?
These asylum-seekers violating laws? Actually, not. It is Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who are violating the Constitution and international law and should be prosecuted for human rights abuses. And this only adds to the ever growing list of Trump’s impeachable crimes: crimes against humanity.
Now he is insisting that these immigrants have no right to due-process to make their claim in front of an immigration judge. In fact, Trump, who first used the 800,000 DACA recipients as bargaining chips, now has upped the ante in using infants. Trump is using these children, who are suffering crippling trauma that can impact their entire lives, in order to get legislation that effectively shuts down even legal immigration. He has said so: he only wants “merit” based immigration (as in the Chinese who invest in his properties in order to purchase visas).
This is a man who embraces torture and proudly proclaimed he would kill family members to “discourage” would-be terrorists. His internment camps and the legal limbo invented status he has created are akin to Guantanamo Bay, where there too, due-process and American values of “innocent until proven guilty” have been violated, and where torture has made those cases unresolvable, his use of child abuse, kidnapping to extort their parents into agreeing to deportation and Democrats to accept unacceptable legislation akin to Abu Ghraib.
Be reminded that Obama did have a compromises comprehensive Immigration Bill that passed the Senate in 2013, 68-32, but John Boehner blocked from a vote in the House, causing Obama to institute DACA; and that Trump, himself, in that brief interlude that suggested sanity when it was only the 800,000 DACA recipients being held hostage, said he would accept any compromise out of “love” and “compassion” but then promptly betrayed every deal agreed to and torpedoed every bill proposed.
If Trump really wanted to solve the problem, he would add, not detract, from the impossibly overworked 330 immigration judges required to meet a quota of cases (basically tipping the scales against petitioners, compromising the fairness and integrity of a case) and never get to wind down the backlog of 720,000 cases, rather than ridicule the plea to hire 5,000 more judges because, as Trump tweeted, “they are corrupt.” (That might be true for his judicial appointees, starting with Neil Gorsuch.)
There may be pernicious strategy to Trump’s politics, but yet another example of the complete ineptitude and corruption in the implementation – like Puerto Rico, like the Trump Travel Ban – scandals, violations of law and the Constitution that would have toppled any other administration and triggered impeachment.
The Trump administration had no plan and actually no real care, and had no process for reuniting the children with their parents, who received a receipt for their property but not their child, even infants who cannot speak; what is more, there are reports of children being drugged and abused while in custody.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has said, “Family separation can cause irreparable harm to children’s health, disrupting their brain architecture and affecting short- and long-term health.” He is also inflicting torturous anxiety on parents. What is more, the administration has not developed a mechanism to insure the parents are reunited with their children, let alone contact them, who are often removed hundreds or thousands of miles away, and have already begun deporting parents without their children, or even knowing where the children are.
The very secrecy built around Trump’s internment system should spur Congressional oversight, but Republicans, who spent 4 years and 11 separate investigations into Benghazi, have no appetite and no interest, making their own political calculations.
Trump has slapped that claim of “national security” on this and every other heinous policy (Travel Ban, illegal tariffs) but his policy has made the country less safe – pulling resources from detaining actual drug-smugglers and criminals, further enraging and alienating allies, and making the US toothless in condemning human rights abuses anywhere in the world, turning the US into a rogue nation. Moreover, its treatment of migrating mothers and small children are likely to be a recruitment tool for terrorists, just as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were. It’s no coincidence the US pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
But making the country safe was never the issue, just as there was no real immigration “crisis,” and certainly no actual “invasion”. Trump sees “Zero Tolerance” as a winning political issue for those who fear more than anything, as Pat Buchanan warned, the loss of White Power and White Supremacy as America evolves into a minority-majority nation.
What do they fear from an “infestation?” That “these” people or their children, will someday vote, or at least be counted in a census determining representation in Congress (that so far has worked in the favor of the Southerners, much as the 3/5 rule for slaves gave White Supremacists outsized power in Congress).
But this extortionist style of “negotiation” has worked for Trump throughout his corrupt career and will only continue, especially if it works now. What’s next? Stepped up deportation raids? Strip nationalized Americans of their citizenship? Suspend due process? Purges and loyalty oaths for federal workers? Lock up journalists? Martial law? Cancel elections? Imprison political opponents? Extra-judicial killings? Expand the Travel (Muslim) Ban? Because he can, because nobody will stop him?
Trump, in a familiar pattern of accusing others of doing the offences he actually commits, said these desperate immigrants have been prompted by lawyers to use the password “fleeing violence” to gain the rights of asylum-seekers. But the five Supreme Court conservatives, including Neil Gorsuch sitting in the seat stolen for him by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, gave him the password which Trump will no doubt use liberally, to expand a travel ban, to deny asylum seekers due process, to commit the unconscionable crime of separating children from their parents: “national security.”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced New York State intends to file a multi-agency lawsuit against the Trump Administration on the grounds that the federal government is violating the Constitutional rights of thousands of immigrant children and their parents who have been separated at the border. We now know of more than 70 children who are staying in federal shelters in New York State and that number is expected to increase as other facilities are contacted. The Governor is directing the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Department of Health and the Office of Children and Family Services to commence legal action against the federal government’s “Separation of Families” policy. Following the callous and inhumane treatment of immigrant families at the border, New York is suing to protect the health and well-being of children being held at least 10 different facilities across the state including some on Long Island, and at others throughout the nation.
“The Trump Administration’s policy to tear apart families is a moral failing and a human tragedy,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will not tolerate the Constitutional rights of children and their parents being violated by our federal government. New York will act and file suit to end this callous and deliberate attack on immigrant communities, and end this heartless policy once and for all.”
The Governor announced that New York plans to sue the federal government for:
Violating the Constitutional Rights of Children and Families
Parents are being separated from their children at the border as a result of the Trump Administration’s new “zero tolerance” prosecution of the minor federal offense of improper entry into the country. In prior administrations, families who appeared with children at the border would be processed together and released with a date to appear in court. Now, parents, many of whom are seeking to protect their children and families from gang violence, are being systematically detained, separated from their children, and, in some cases, deported with no meaningful opportunity to participate in making decisions concerning the care and custody of their children. Yet these parents are still afforded rights under the United States Constitution to familial integrity and to decide to exercise their parental rights in New York State.
Violation of the Terms of the Flores Settlement
The 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement set national standards regarding the detention, release, and treatment of all children in immigration detention and prioritizes the principle of family unity. It requires that juvenile immigrant detainees be released from custody without unnecessary delay, or when no appropriate placement is available, be held in the least restrictive setting appropriate to age and special needs. The Flores Settlement explicitly requires family reunification with a clear preference for custody by a parent, which supports New York’s call for ending the “zero tolerance” policy.
Callous Policies Based on the Outrageous Government Conduct Doctrine
The Supreme Court has asserted that “it may someday be presented with a situation in which the conduct of law enforcement agents is so outrageous that due process principles would absolutely bar the government from invoking judicial processes to obtain a conviction.” Clearly that day has come. New York State will challenge the federal government’s zero-tolerance policy which leads to the unnecessary and inhumane separation of families and detention of childrenand which serves no legitimate national security or public safety purpose.
Governor Cuomo issued an open letter to Vice President Mike Pence condemning the “zero-tolerance” policy and urging the federal government to end the mistreatment of immigrant families at the border.
The Governor’s call for legal action builds on the launch of new initiatives and increased services and support for New Americans across New York. In January, the Governor announced actions to protect thousands of immigrants from President Trump’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans, Haitians and Nicaraguans, including directing the Department of State to increase resources available to communities across New York.
On June 8, the Governor issued a letter to Department of Homeland Security Acting Inspector General John Kelly calling for an investigation into the conduct of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and on Sunday, June 17, the Governor again called on the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the treatment of immigrant families at the border. On Monday, June 18 the Governor declared that New York State will not deploy National Guard to the border and will not support the federal government’s inhumane treatment of immigrant families.
Liberty Defense Project
This latest call for action builds on the comprehensive efforts of this administration to protect the rights of immigrants, including the Liberty Defense Project, created by Governor Cuomo in 2017. The LDP was established in response to hostile federal policies and is the nation’s first state-led project to assist immigrants – regardless of status – in obtaining access to legal services and process. The Liberty Defense Project provides essential legal services on deportation defense, direct representation, consultations, application assistance, and more. The public-private partnership is administered by the Office for New Americans and run in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, colleges, universities, and bar associations across the state.
Since July 2017, the Liberty Defense Project has provided more than 10,000 free and confidential services to individuals needing legal assistance through its network of 47 community-based groups.
Application Deadline Extended for NaturalizeNY Initiative
Part of the Governor’s efforts to help immigrants and minority populations fully participate in New York’s civic and economic life, NaturalizeNY assists low-income immigrants in gaining U.S. citizenship. The nation’s first statutorily created immigrant services office, NaturalizeNY is administered and supported by Governor Cuomo’s Office for New Americans in partnership with Robin Hood, New York Community Trust, Stanford University’s Immigration Policy Lab, as well as faculty from SUNY Albany and George Mason University.
Eligible immigrants may register and enter a lottery for a voucher to cover the $725 naturalization application fee. Applicants may apply online at NaturalizeNY.org, via the New Americans Hotline at 800-566-7636 or by visiting an ONA Opportunity Center. The registration period began May 1 and has been extended from its original June 15 end date to July 3, 2018.
Since Governor Cuomo established the Office of New Americans in 2013, more than 200,000 New Americans have received help navigating the naturalization process, starting and growing their own businesses, learning English, and becoming part of New York’s diverse cultural fabric. Of these:
19,543 were Naturalization and DACA applications and referrals;
34,938 participated in ESOL classes throughout the state;
4,986 partook in entrepreneurship classes across New York;
500 graduated with at least 20 hours of English language coursework via Cell-Ed, a phone-based English learning system for individuals who have difficulty reaching an actual classroom; and
1,540 are actively engaged in Cell-Ed throughout the state.
In addition to providing free, direct assistance to individuals, the Office for New Americans has conducted more than 6,000 seminars and meetings to educate New Yorkers on how to apply for a passport, how to apply for college, what to do if/when immigration officers come to their homes, and what avenues are available for victims of domestic violence.
“It is outrageous government conduct and there is an outrageous government conduct doctrine,” Governor Cuomo told reporters in a press call announcing the plan to sue the Trump Administration. “The Supreme Court has expressed openness to the idea that, iit may someday be presented with a situation in which the conduct of law enforcement agents is so outrageous that due process principles would absolutely bar the government from invoking judicial processes to obtain a conviction.’
“And clearly that day has come. We’ve had a number of experiences with ICE in this state where I believe they have been turned into a political police apparatus. We had a situation in Rome, New York on April  where they trampled an immigrant’s rights without a warrant. Went onto a farm, grabbed a worker, left. Unidentified. Never showed the farmer a piece of paper. They just trampled the immigrant’s rights as they trampled the farmer’s field. We’re involved in a situation now that happened on June  where they detained Pablo Villavicencio, who was a pizza delivery person delivering pizza in Brooklyn, married, two children, in New York, and he has been detained. They moved to deport him immediately. We intervened through what we call our Liberty Defense Project. We provided counsel and we put that off, but it’s just another example of the overzealous activity of ICE in pursuing the President’s political mandate. The separation between police powers and political wishes is sacrosanct in this country, and I think that’s being violated.
“You should also know that the State regulates the facilities that the federal government is using and the State offered health services and mental health services to these children. Obviously it’s traumatic for a child to be separated from their parents and the State has been informed that the federal government has essentially gagged the facilities and that if we want to provide any services to the children, we’d have to go through the federal government and it’s a protracted process that would take weeks.
“Why the federal government would want to be in a position to stop a state from offering mental health services, support services, for young children suffering trauma just adds further insult to further injury.
“We’re going to sue through a multi-agency coalition, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, what we call OTDA, the Department of Health, and the Office of Children and Family Services on the grounds that I mentioned earlier. So politics aside, philosophy aside, children have legal rights. Parents have legal rights. That’s established firmly in the federal and state constitutions and in case law. They have fundamental rights. They apply whether they’re documented, undocumented, short, tall, Mexican, seeking asylum, or not seeking asylum. Those fundamental rights apply and we believe they’ve been violated.”