Democratic hopefuls pledge changes to immigration law - GulfToday

Democratic hopefuls pledge changes to immigration law


Joe Biden speaks at The Graduate Center of CUNY in the Manhattan borough of New York on Thursday. Reuters

Democratic presidential candidates promised major changes to US immigration law, contrasting their ideas to the hardline policies of President Donald Trump during a forum with Latino political activists in Milwaukee.

The White House hopefuls gathered on Thursday as Trump’s detention policies have sparked fierce Democratic pushback and intense public debate.

They uniformly panned Trump’s approach to immigration on a day when the president abandoned his contentious effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Senator Elizabeth Warren drew one of the biggest audience reactions of the night when asked about the issue.

“Wow, he’s going to follow the law?” Warren said to laughter and applause.

“This is not about trying to find real information about citizenship and noncitizenship in America. This is just about trying to stir up some more hate.” The other candidates at the forum hosted by the League of United Latin American Citizens included former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Castro promised his administration would not put families in detention centers for crossing the US border illegally.

“I will not stand by it. I’m not going to do it,” he said. He said children who are being crowded in pens, away from their parents “are going to be traumatised for the rest of their lives.” Castro said his immigration plan would also address veterans who have been deported after serving in the military.

“One of the things I call for is to immediately ensure that veterans who have been deported can come back to the United States and pursue citizenship in the United States because they served our country honourably,” he said. “They did their duty for our country. We owe them a debt of gratitude and the last thing we should do is see them deported away from their families.” Sanders sounded a rare personal note during his remarks by recalling that his father, Eli, was an immigrant who came to the United States from Poland as a 17-year-old “without a nickel in his pocket and could not speak one word of English.” His father, Sanders added, is “the kind of person” Trump is seeking to prevent from emigrating today.

On immigration, Sanders offered a sweeping vision.

“We will end the hatred, we will the end the xenophobia that currently exists in this country,” he said. “We will provide immediate legal status to the 1.8 million young people eligible for the DACA programme.” Sanders continued: “We will move to comprehensive immigration reform and a path for citizenship for all 11 million undocumented. And we will develop a humane policy at the border, not one that criminalises desperate people for having travelled a thousand miles.” Separately, the frontrunner Joe Biden promised on Thursday his White House would end “forever wars” and reassert American leadership to combat authoritarianism and global instability, which he says are proliferating under President Donald Trump.

“The world’s democracies look to America to stand for the values that unite us. Donald Trump seems to be on the other team,” Biden said during a foreign policy speech in New York, hammering the president for “embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity” and emboldening a worldwide rise of nationalism, xenophobia and isolationism.

Biden promised to “end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East” and terminate US involvement in the Yemen civil war.

Biden said on Thursday that military force will always be an option, but must be a “last resort” with a “defined” and “achievable mission.” He also pledged to “elevate diplomacy as the principle tool of our foreign policy” and said he’d rebuild expertise in the State Department after an exodus of diplomats under Trump.

His promise to stop “endless wars” also came with qualification; he called for removing most combat troops from Afghanistan in favor of “narrowly focusing our mission” in the region.

Biden envisioned not just a return to the traditional US role in the post-World War II international order, but to use that power and influence to take on 21st century problems.

He emphasised the urgency for USled global alliances to combat the climate crisis, forge new trade agreements to create a more even international economy and to recommit to nuclear proliferation.

Associated Press

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