LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday outlined proposals to help unite families, dismantle inhumane deportation programs, end policies that discriminate against women and protect domestic violence victims.
“We cannot and we should not sweep up millions of men, women and children – many of whom have been in the United States for years – and throw them out of the country,” Sanders told a national immigration reform summit meeting here in Nevada.
Sanders would use presidential powers, including prosecutorial discretion, to allow all undocumented people who have been in the United States for at least five years to stay here without fear of being deported. His plan essentially would put in place provisions that were approved in 2013 by a 68-32 bipartisan majority in the Senate but were blocked by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
“As president, passing a legislative solution to our broken immigration system will be a top priority,” Sanders said. “But, let me be clear: I will not wait around for Congress to act. Instead, beginning in the first 100 days of my administration, I will work to take extensive executive action to accomplish what Congress has failed to do and to build upon President Obama’s executive orders.”
Important components of his broader plan include:
- Going beyond President Barack Obama’s executive actions and provide broad administrative relief to the parents of DREAMers, the parents of citizens, the parents of legal permanent residents, other family members and other immigrants who would have been given legal protections by the Senate-passed bill.
- Dismantling inhumane deportation programs and private detention centers.
- Offering humane treatment and asylum to victims of domestic violence and minors fleeing from dangerous circumstances in Latin America.
- Ending policies that discriminate against women and ensure that mothers and wives who come into the United States with their families have the same right to work as their husbands.
Those key elements are part of a broader set of immigration policies that Sanders plans to spell out in greater detail in the coming days. Altogether, Sanders’ plan would provide legal protections to more than 7 million undocumented individuals living in the United States.
Sanders’ speech to the immigration activists at a downtown hotel came the morning after he drew 3,400 supporters to a nighttime rally at a soccer field in North Las Vegas. A mariachi band entertained the audience before Sanders was introduced by a young woman who tearfully told the crowd about her father’s deportation.