Immigration in the Democratic debates
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - August 4, 2019 - 12:00am

Two nights this past week, we watched and listened to the CNN Democratic Presidential Debates. All 20 candidates were given the opportunity to lay out to the American electorate what their plans and policies are on a host of issues - economic, foreign relations, climate, education, healthcare, and immigration. Being an immigration attorney, I am particularly interested in what each candidate has to say on this very divisive topic.

While almost all of them are opposed to the Trump administration's immigration policies, there appears to be a stark contrast between these presidential aspirants which we can group into two sides. The progressives versus the moderates. The more prominent liberal advocates such as Warren, Castro, Sanders, Harris, and Booker propose the policy of decriminalizing illegal entry into the US. As it stands now, illegal entry is a federal crime and has been regularly enforced. With their proposal, an undocumented immigrant who “walks” into the border would just be civilly liable and would not have to be put in detention. The moderates such as former vice president Biden and O' Rourke oppose this policy as it sends a wrong message to those who are already here illegally, those who came here legally, and those who are planning to come here.

There are various immigration policy proposals set on the table by these Democratic candidates aimed at reforming both legal and illegal immigration. Among others: abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants, stopping the construction of the border wall, elimination of private detention facilities, increasing the number of refugees and asylum seekers, more alternatives to detention facilities, continuing the DREAMERs Act, free healthcare for the undocumented, etc.

Depending on what spectrum you are in the Democratic side, you can pick and choose which one you prefer. The more important question would be: Which of these plans could be passed into law knowing how divisive the immigration issue is and how divided Congress is. Let's see what happens in 2020!

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This column is not a substitute for professional legal advice obtained from a US licensed immigration attorney. The information contained herein does not constitute a warranty or guarantee or legal advice regarding a reader’s specific immigration case. No attorney-client relationship is and shall be established with any reader.

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