WASHINGTON.— Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has promised that if he wins in 2020, he will stop deportations on his first day at the White House, and reverse other Trump Administration measures that have “demonized” immigrants in the framework of what he called the most ambitious immigration reform plan of the contest.
The plan, entitled "A welcoming and safe US for all" ("A Welcoming and Safe America for All”) Is a recipe book of progressive measures to solve the dysfunction that has been dragging the US immigration system for decades.
Although Sanders has addressed the issue in various forums, debates and interviews, this is the official deployment of his plan, prepared with the help of dreamers and other immigrants in their campaign.
Like other Democratic rivals, such as Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, Sanders plans to issue executive orders if Congress does not adopt "common sense" immigration reforms.
The massive plan – a virtual manifesto against President Donald Trump's policies – does not delineate a cost or explain how much of the proposals will be financed.
In any case, its future will depend on the reconfiguration of the Congress after the general elections of 2020, because the continued division of both houses only predicts the paralysis of the Legislative. Republicans, perennially divided on the issue of immigration, would reject it in the first place.
The issue of immigration is emerging as a dominant factor in the general contest, and most surveys place Sanders in third place.
A feverish first day
The plan describes a feverish first day in the presidency: a moratorium on deportations while the government performs an audit of all policies; the closure of detention centers; a brake on the border wall and restrictions on funds for “sanctuary cities”, and the end of the Muslim “ban”.
“We will stop the hatred towards our immigrant brothers and sisters, we will put an end to the separation of families and the confinement of children in cages. We will put an end to the ICE raids that terrorize families and, on my first day as president, I will use my executive power to protect our immigrant communities and reverse every horrific action, ”Trump said, Sanders said in a statement.
Sanders will eliminate the "Stay in Mexico" program and the "safe third country" agreements for asylum seekers; It will extend the “Temporary Protection Status” (TPS) program until Congress adopts a permanent solution, and will eliminate private contracts for detention centers.
In addition, it will order the “decriminalization” of illegal crossings at the border through “Operation Streamline”, and the immediate reunification of children separated from their parents.
It will also eliminate the “public charge” regulation that denies permanent residence to immigrants who receive certain public benefits, or may receive them in the future. That measure has been temporarily halted in the courts.
The son of a Polish refugee, Sanders has said his policies reflect his desire to curb the "demonization" of immigrants.
After accusing Trump of being “a racist, xenophobe and demagogue” who has sown the division against immigrants, Sanders plans to convene a “Hemispheric summit”To analyze responses to the roots of illegal emigration.
Other points of the plan
The ten-point plan proposes to legalize 1.8 million dreamers eligible for the 2012 “deferred action” program, known as “DACA,” for its acronym in English.
It also restores an immigration relief program for parents of dreamers, known as "DAPA", announced by the Obama Administration in 2014 but canceled by Trump three years later.
Sanders will urge Congress to approve a path to legalization and eventual citizenship for the eleven million undocumented immigrants, and will demand the demilitarization of the southern border.
The Vermont senator wants to reform the Department of Homeland Security, distributing his immigration and customs functions to other agencies – as they were before his creation in 2002 – in order to refocus his mission and reduce the waste of public funds.
The plan would strengthen the labor rights of immigrants, adopt a "Domestic Workers Rights Charter" – with a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour – and renegotiate "fair" trade agreements.
It also provides immigrant families with access to universal Medicare, college education, English learning programs, and the expansion of school feeding programs.
The evolution of Sanders in the migratory field
His migratory vision, similar to the one he outlined in his failed 2016 contest, reflects his evolution in the minefield of migration.
In 2007, Sanders caused waves when he voted against a bipartisan immigration reform and suggested, as conservatives often do, that immigrants depress wages, which also put him in trouble in the 2016 race.
"If poverty is rising and wages are going down, I don't know why we need millions of people to come as temporary workers who will work for less wages than Americans and lower wages even more," Sanders explained in an interview with CNN in 2007 .
That year, Sanders joined Republicans and a handful of Democrats against immigration reform that legalized the dreamers; reinforced border security; it created a program of “guest workers”, and restricted future migratory flows.
Sanders voted against it because the initiative also eliminated four of the five visa categories for family reunification.
The senator supported a Democratic amendment to eliminate the "guest worker" program in five years, which was among the "poisonous pills" that guaranteed their burial and led to the rejection of unions, lawyers' associations, and civic groups.
In 2013, Sanders voted in favor of immigration reform, but it died in the House of Representatives due to the inaction of Republicans.
During the summer, his campaign explained that Sanders wants to reform the “H1-B” visa system for foreign workers with high labor skills, so that they do not displace Americans.
In 2016, Sanders lost the primaries against his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in part because he could not tie the Latino vote in key states.
His campaign ensures that, in 2020, when there will be 32 million eligible Hispanics, Sanders will fight for each of his votes in cities, suburbs, rural areas, and even in Puerto Rico.