Trump says Mexico tariffs off the table after immigration help
Elizabeth Warren on Thursday rolled out a plan to “decriminalize” immigration violations, welcome more refugees and focus enforcement on security threats, offering a pro-immigration vision in sharp contrast to President Donald Trump’s restrictive focus.
The Democratic presidential candidate said the Trump administration’s harsh treatment of asylum-seeking migrants -- including the separation of undocumented children and parents at the border -- was based on a law, known as Section 1325, that imposes criminal penalties for improperly entering the U.S. She called for repealing the provision and said she’d use executive power to reduce its enforcement as president.
“We should repeal this criminal prohibition to prevent future abuse,” Warren wrote in a Medium.com post, vowing that as president she would “immediately issue guidance to end criminal prosecutions for simple administrative immigration violations” and “refocus our limited resources on actual criminals and real threats.”
Warren’s plan comes amid heightened tensions over immigration this week. Trump is expected to announce Thursday that he will take executive action on the 2020 U.S. Census, pursuing his fight to include a citizenship question in the decennial population count despite being rebuffed by the Supreme Court. In addition, the proposal’s release coincides with a report in the New York Times that mass arrests of thousands of undocumented people are expected to begin Sunday.
The detailed plan is the latest of many by Warren, who has risen in the polls by focusing on policy ideas such as taxing the ultra-wealthy and corporations, breaking up tech firms, providing universal child care and eliminating most student debt. The proposal to address immigration, an emotional issue that Trump has has made a focal point of his presidency, follows searing reports about migrant deaths and harsh conditions at detention centers.
The Massachusetts senator also said she’d set up a Justice Department task force to investigate “criminal abuses of immigrants” by Trump administration officials.
In his 2016 campaign, Trump mobilized voters with an anti-immigration message focused on building a wall and removing undocumented people, successfully capitalizing on grievances about demographic and cultural changes that have made the U.S. more diverse. Warren’s plan is sure to amplify the president’s claim that Democrats are embracing an “open borders” immigration policy — most of her rivals have not gone as far.
The proposal is aimed at a growing pro-immigration constituency in the Democratic Party, particularly the large Latino community that can make or break presidential campaigns in key states like Nevada and Florida. Warren trails front-runner Joe Biden in most polls, but if she’s the nominee facing Trump next fall, the contest would set up the sharpest contrast on immigration policy between the two major parties in the modern era.
Warren’s plan to return border-crossing to a civil violation maintains the option for officials to deport those in the U.S. unlawfully, though she said they would be offered access to counsel. It follows a similar proposal by Julian Castro, who has struggled to break through and challenged rivals to adopt his plan during the first debate in late June.
Source of ‘Strength’
“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,” Warren wrote. “President Trump sees things differently. He’s advanced a policy of cruelty and division that demonizes immigrants.”
Warren called for outlawing private detention facilities and limiting detentions to people who pose a security or flight risk; she said she’d track and monitor the rest with technology. She offered to “remake” Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agencies that patrol the border and deport people, to end “warrantless arrests” and instead focus on smuggling, trafficking and spotting counterfeit products.
While Trump has cut refugee admissions, Warren said she’d raise that number to 125,000 refugees in her first year and welcome 175,000 by the end of her first presidential term.
In addition, Warren said she’d repeal the 3 to 10-year bans to re-enter the country for those who are unlawfully in the U.S., and pursue a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. She said she’d create an “Office of New Americans” aimed at helping newcomers integrate into their communities.
The Democratic candidate is expected to discuss her plan in a speech later Thursday to LULAC, a Latino civil rights group.