Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that, if elected, he would immediately implement executive actions to protect a broad range of immigrants who arrived illegally as well as bring back others “unjustly” deported.
The U.S. senator from Vermont said he would not rely on the “do-nothing” Congress.
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“In my view, we should not deny a path to citizenship to an undocumented parents for re-entering this country after being separated from their children or for not having a driver’s license,” Sanders said via video chat before the annual National Immigrant Integration Conference in his native Brooklyn.
President Barack Obama’s initiatives to help children who emigrated to the country without proper documentation and parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents here illegally were center stage this week among White House contenders at the conference.
But so was Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who had called for temporary ban of Muslims at the border, and who was evoked again and again as a foil.
Sanders campaign aide Cesar Vargas, a DREAMer, or young immigrant brought illegally to the United States as a minor, said Tuesday, “Regardless of what the Donald Trumps say, regardless of what the xenophobic voices say, we have power. Papers or not, we have the power to change the course of the nation.”
Party nomination front-runner former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her remarks Monday also criticized Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and mocked his campaign slogan. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, the third Democratic presidential hopeful, Tuesday condemned Trump several times.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not return a request for comment.
Sanders said Tuesday he would expand the use of “humanitarian parole” to return “unjustly” deported immigrants.
“The United States must do the right thing and guarantee the swiftest possible reunification of these broken families,” he said.
Like Clinton, Sanders called for the closure of private immigration detention centers. “I have already introduced legislation that will end private prisons that profit from jailing immigrants,” he said.
O’Malley took the Democrats’ call to reform immigration detention a step further.
“And let us not only end family detention, but all immigration detention unless there’s a great risk to our national security or public safety,” he said.