WASHINGTON (CN) – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Thursday unveiled his immigration plan, promising to decriminalize border crossings and demilitarize the border while reversing President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration.
The Sanders campaign pledges that the plan will convert the county’s immigration process into a “humane, lawful process that protects families and respects human rights.”
The senator from Vermont would reverse Trump’s executive actions, create a swift and fair pathway to citizenship, decriminalize unauthorized entry into the U.S. and demilitarize the southern border, protect and strengthen immigrant labor rights, and enact fair trade deals and a humane foreign policy.
“My father came to America as a refugee without a nickel in his pocket, to escape widespread anti-Semitism and find a better life,” Sanders said in a statement. “As the proud son of an immigrant, I know that my father’s story is the story of so many Americans today.”
Immigration is likely to be major issue in next year’s presidential election, given that Trump made it a centerpiece for his run in 2016. He even focused on the issue back in June 2015 when he first announced his candidacy.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump had said. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting.”
Since taking office, Trump has issued numerous immigration-related executive orders, such as the controversial travel ban and the policy to separate family members that enter the country’s southern border seeking refugee status. He has also sought to end an Obama-era program that deferred deportation for qualifying young immigrations without documentation.
“When I am in the White House we will stop the hatred towards our immigrant brothers and sisters, end family separation, and locking children up in cages,” Sanders said. “We will end the ICE raids that are terrorizing our communities, and on my first day as president, I will use my executive power to protect our immigrant communities and reverse every single horrific action implemented by Trump.”
According to his campaign, Sanders’ plan was written in conjunction with several recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and other immigrants on his campaign staff.
Sanders pledged to halt the construction of Trump’s long-promised border wall, place a moratorium on deportations, and end raids by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
He also promised to focus on foreign policy and tackle climate change as a means to reduce the number of refugees seeking a new home in America, while focusing labor laws and regulation to protect immigrant workers that might otherwise be taken advantage of, due to their residency status.
During the summer, Sanders’ Democratic rival Senator Elizabeth Warren also released an immigration plan that included decriminalizing border crossing and increasing foreign aid, reinstating DACA and reducing the power of ICE.
“Immigrants are our neighbors and our friends,” the Massachusetts senator wrote at the time. “But an immigration system that can’t tell the difference between a terrorist and a little girl is badly broken.”