BOSTON (CN) - Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren would decriminalize undocumented immigration and overhaul ICE as part of the immigration plan she released on Thursday as a direct rebuke to President Donald Trump’s policies.
“Immigrants are our neighbors and our friends,” the Massachusetts senator wrote in a post for Medium introducing her plan. “But an immigration system that can't tell the difference between a terrorist and a little girl is badly broken.”
Warren said she would stop family separations and decrease immigrant detention in general, while eliminating private detention facilities altogether.
As for the government’s immigration and law-enforcement functions, Warren would separate the two, ending the program called Secure Communities whereby immigration authorities rely on help from local police.
She would also establish an independent immigration court with due process.
"I’ll work with Congress to pass broad-reaching reform, but I’m also prepared to move forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act," Warren said. "We cannot continue to ignore our immigration challenges, nor can we close our borders and isolate the United States from the outside world."
Immigration has remained a centerpiece issue for the Trump administration and the president in particular, having focused on the issue back in June 2015 when he 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."
Warren promised to reinstate the Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which offered deportation protection to qualifying young immigrants regardless of their documented status.
In addition to pledging to reverse Trump's travel ban from certain countries with predominantly Muslim populations, Warren pledged to raise the cap for refugees. The United States allowed only about 30,000 refugees into the country in 2018.
"Our current immigration enforcement apparatus is running amok; we embrace efforts to build a more rational immigration system that we can all be proud of," Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council, said in a statement responding to Warren’s plan. "Proposals like this are designed to make communities feel safer, with reasonable enforcement priorities, increased due process, and meaningful accountability for the abuses we hear about on a daily basis.”
The latest poll from YouGov and The Economist has former Vice President Joe Biden leading the pack of 2020 Democrats vying for the presidential nomination, with 22% of votes to Warren’s 18%. They’re followed by California Senator Kamala Harris with 15% and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders with 12%.
Warren and Harris have both seen recent boosts in polling numbers and fundraising after successful showings at the first television debate between Democratic candidates.
A spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment.
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