Part 3: Where Do the Democratic Candidates Stand on Immigration?

With two out of twelve rounds of Democratic debates done, it’s worth taking a step back and seeing what is being said off the stage about the immigration issue. 

We’ve already looked at two sets of Democratic candidates and where they stand on the issues on August 6th and August 12. This week, we’re wrapping up with the last five candidates: Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Pete Buttigieg, and Tim Ryan. We’ll take a brief look at where all the candidates stand, regardless of whether or not they were already approved for the September 12th and 13th debates. 

Julian Castro

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Julian Castro supports a path to citizenship for most documented immigrants, as well as establishing programs and policies that help asylum seekers get the help they need. He supports “choos[ing] compassion even as we maintain a secure border.” He also would like to seek out technology that would assist in securing the border, instead of building a wall.

In terms of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Castro has expressed that it must be reformed, along with the country’s immigration policy. He wants to split ICE into two separate entities: one with a focus on immigration, the other converting responsibility for human and drug trafficking to the Department of Homeland Security.

From his website: “Just two generations after my grandmother came across this border, one of her grandsons, my brother Joaquin, is a member of Congress, and I’m running for President. Our nation has always been a country of immigrants, folks who have made a profound and positive difference to our nation’s progress. We can have a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. Don’t believe Trump’s lies–we don’t have to choose between border security and being compassionate. We can have both.”

Castro has met the donor threshold, but not the polling threshold, for round three. 

Notable Immigration Voting Records

No voting records are available for this candidate at this time. 

Kamala Harris

Harris supports reevaluating and rebuilding ICE, but does not support its abolition. She also co-sponsored the REUNITE Act legislation that calls for families separated at the border to be reunited. She also champions DACA.

Over the course of her political career, she has shown support for immigration by establishing a job training program for ex-convicts that included undocumented immigrants, as well as creating California legislation that sought to protect immigrants who reported or testified in a criminal case from deportation.

In her book The Truths We Hold, she wrote:

“But there was a bigger reason to oppose the border wall. A useless wall on the southern border would be nothing more than a symbol, a monument standing in opposition to not just everything I value, but to the fundamental values upon which this country was built. The Statue of Liberty is the monument that defines to the world who we are. Emma Lazarus’s words–“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”–speak true to our true character: a generous country that respects and embraces those who have made the difficult journey to our shores, often fleeing harm. How could I vote to build what would be little more than a monument, designed to send the cold, hard message ‘KEEP OUT’?”

Harris will be moving on to the next round of debates.

Noteable Immigration Voting Records

Date: February 15, 2018

Bill Title: Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act

Vote: Nay

 

Date: February 15, 2018

Bill Title: Uniting and Securing America Act

Vote: Yea

 

Date: February 15, 2018

Bill Title: Immigration Security and Opportunity Act

Vote: Nay

 

Date: February 15, 2018

Bill Title: Secure and Succeed Act

Vote: Nay 

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand’s has stated that “immigration is one of America’s greatest strengths, not a weakness.” She is in support of securing the borders, but claims that America’s current climate of racism and fear is not an “effective security strategy.” 

She supports comprehensive immigration reform, which would include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States. Under Gillibrand, ICE would be eliminated and reformed, with ICE and Customs and Border Patrol being asked to collect more data during situations in which the citizenship status of an individual is in question.

In a May 2019 article from Axios, Gillibrand said, “”The part of ICE that’s gonna survive under Homeland Security is the cross border terrorism, human trafficking, gun trafficking, and drug trafficking.”

Gillibrand would also seek humane treatment of asylum seekers, including better access to immigration lawyers and judges. 

Gillibrand has not yet met all the requirements for moving on to the next round of debates, but has until August 28 to do so. 

Noteable Immigration Voting Record

Date: February 15, 2018

Bill Title: Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act

Vote: Nay

 

Date: July 6, 2016

Bill Title: Stop Illegal Reentry Act

Vote: Nay

 

Date: June 27, 2013

Bill Title: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

Vote: Yea

 

Date: June 18, 2013

Bill Title: Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border

Vote: Nay

 

Date: May 8, 2008

Bill Title: Undocumented Immigrants’ Ineligibility for Certain Financial Assistance

Vote: Yea

Pete Buttigieg

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Peter Buttigieg supports America’s stance as a human rights leader, stating “The greatest nation in the world should have nothing to fear from children fleeing violence. More importantly, children fleeing violence should have nothing to fear from the greatest nation in the world.” He views immigrants as an essential part of American culture. 

He believes that we must build a comprehensive pathway to citizenship that includes DREAMers, and that more resources have to be dedicated to ending backlogs in the immigration and asylum process. He supports evaluation of ICE to “ensure similar humanitarian crises never happen again.”

In 2017, the mayor told WSBT that he supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and a path to citizenship. In January 2019, he told CBS he thinks sending troops to the U.S.-Mexico border is a waste of time for troops, and he’s also repeatedly said in interviews that, as a religious man, he believes religion teaches people to take care of others, including immigrants.

Buttigieg will be moving on to the next round of debates.

Noteable Immigration Executive Actions

No voting records are available for this candidate at this time.

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act of 2019 and opposes the southern border wall, despite voting for the implementation of a security fence in 2006. He also worked to introduce legislation calling for the creation of a nine-member committee to tackle immigration issues. 

He also opposes the detention and separation of families at the border. 

Ryan came to national attention when he repeatedly presented a Congressional bill allowing undocumented immigrant Adi Othman to remain in the United States. Ryan sought a more thorough review of the case, as Othman had been living in Youngstown, Ohio for 40 years, was a prominent businessman, and was married to an American citizen, with whom he had four children. 

After ICE’s directive to increase arrests and deportations, Othman was deported in February 2018. Ryan is quoted as saying, “I don’t think there is any question that this is the new normal… To watch these families get ripped apart is the most heart-breaking thing any American citizen could ever see … Because you are for these families, it doesn’t mean you are not for a secure border.”

Ryan has not yet met all the requirements for moving on to the next round of debates, but has until August 28 to do so. 

Noteable Immigration Voting Records

Date: July 24, 2019

Bill Title: Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act

Vote: Yea

 

Date: June 4, 2019

Bill Title: American Dream and Promise Act of 2019

Vote: Yea

 

Date: June 29, 2017

Bill Title: Kate’s Law

Vote: Nay

 

Date: May 8, 2008

Bill Title: Undocumented Immigrants’ Ineligibility for Certain Financial Assistance

Vote: Yea

 

Date: September 14, 2006

Bill Title: Secure Fence Act of 2006

Vote: Yea

With so many players on the field, it can sometimes be hard to keep up. Here, you can read more about the candidates and see more immigration news to keep you in the loop. Check back with us after the September debates for more candidate summaries.