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Elizabeth Warren's comprehensive immigration proposal, explained

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) calls for degrading the border without papers, reducing immigration detention, and increasing funding for aid to Central America in the campaign's newly unveiled comprehensive immigration platform.

At a League of United Latin American Citizens event Milwaukee, where 2020 hopefuls Julian Castro and Sen. Bernie Sanders was also an attendance, Warren released a proposal that unsurprisingly serves as a clear rebuke or President Trump's immigration agenda

Five 2020 Democratic candidates – Warren, Castro, Beto O'Rourke, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Cory Booker ̵

1; now put out immigration proposals. All of them call for reversals of Trump's most controversial immigration policies, and Warren's is no exception: As the administration teases plans for mass immigration raids in the coming days, plans for protecting schools, medical facilities, and courthouses from immigration enforcement and ending programs that allow local law enforcement to be deferred as federal immigration officers.

Warren's plan six separate back detention overall and eliminate private detention facilities. the administration clamps down on asylum seekers and refugees, Warren is pledging to six times eight times as many refugees as Trump has a first year as president, and to implement proposals that would make it easier for asylum seekers to get a day in court .

As millions of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children live in legal limb as the administration sunsets the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, Warren is calling to expand the program for DREAMers and their families, as well as those with Temporary Protected Status

Of course, this would face and uphill battle in Congress – and would probably be dead on arrival if Republicans keep control of the Senate.

Then. Kamala Harris, who has not yet released a full immigration policy proposal, recently proposed enacting a path to citizenship through executive order. Warren is not doing that. But she says that on some fronts, including ending separation and making it easier for undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status, she's willing to work around Congress.

"I'll work with Congress to pass broad-reaching reform, but I'm also ready to move forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act," she said in the Medium blog post announcing her plan.

Warren's immigration plan, broken down

Warren's plan goes far beyond what Democrats have rallied around in Congress; the Dream and Promise Act, a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants who came to the US as children, as well as immigrants with temporary humanitarian protections. House Democrats passed that piece of legislation in June. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have been working on their own immigration bill to address family separation at the border, invest in aid for Central America, and the asylum-seeking process.

But Warren's proposal pushes the envelope on liberal immigration policy in a way that echoes Castro, which early in the cycle changed the national conversation from legalization to radically restricting enforcement. So much so, according to Castro's campaign, Natalie Montelongo campaign when Castro complimented Warren on her proposal after the LULAC conference, she responded with, "Well, it's a lot of Castro."

Here's a breakdown of what Warren is calling for:


  • At the forefront is a push to make illegal entry and re-entry into the United States a civil offense, not a criminal one – reversing a law that has been on The books for decades were rarely enforced until the George W. Bush administration, when criminal prosecution of unauthorized immigrants for illegal entry became increasingly common. It's a position Castro first and then pushed other Democratic 2020 candidates as well.

Migrants who enter the US without papers would be committing a crime, and they could still be deported. But as Dara Lind explained for Vox earlier this year, making crossing the border without papers a civil offense would have big ramifications, including ending the practice of family separation. "The Trump administration attempts to" zero tolerance "of illegal entry were the legal basis for its widespread separation of families in 2018: their parents were transferred to criminal custody for prosecution," Lind writes.

  • Warren also says she would get rid of government contracts with private detention facilities, and cut down on the use of detention for migrants awaiting their day in court altogether. She cited Vox's reporting on alternatives to detention facilities, including electronic monitoring and social work monitoring, in identifying programs she'd invest in.
  • Warren, similar to O'Rourke, proposes making immigration courts independent, removing the attorney general's overturn judges' rulings.
  • She is also proposing to reshape Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, focusing on the agencies' efforts on screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking, and ending the program that allows local law enforcement to be deported as immigration deportation forces


  • Warren calls for reinstating DACA and expanding the program to anyone brought to the United States during the age of 18 She also wants protection for families of DREAMers and some workers. Unlike Harris, who proposed using executive authority to provide a pathway to citizenship for these immigrants, Warren said she would work with Congress.
  • She also pledges to 125,000 refugees in her first year as president, and 175,000 a year by the end or her first term. (Trump capped refugee admissions at 30,000 in 2019.)
  • And she'd reverse Trump's restrictions on seeking asylum again include victims of gang violence and domestic abuse, and the "Remain in Mexico" policy, which the administration has used to require asylum seekers to wait on the other side of the border to have their cases heard.

Warren is also calling for more support for legal immigration, including redistributing unused, to address the millions currently in the backlog waiting for a way to enter the United States, and lower barriers to naturalization – like application fees – facing green card holders.

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