Issue Guide
Immigrant Justice

Sample Questions

  • About 11 million immigrants are in the United States without legal status, and two-thirds of undocumented adults have lived here for at least 10 years. Unless we bring all of them into the embrace of citizenship, we are institutionalizing a permanent underclass made up mostly of Latino, Asian, and Black people who live and work here but often face exploitation and violations of their basic rights. As president, will you commit to championing new legislation to create fair and achievable paths to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants?
  • ICE relies heavily on local sheriffs to help identify immigrants in our families and our communities to arrest, detain, and deport. But Congress already funds ICE at $7 billion per year — exponentially more than any local law enforcement budget. As president, will you commit to disentangling federal immigration enforcement from local law enforcement — most crucially by ending the use of ICE detainers?
  • ICE is responsible for the largest immigration detention system in the world — a sprawling network of ICE-run facilities, private prisons, and local jails operating with little to no meaningful oversight. This system costs more than $8 million per day in federal taxpayer dollars. Noncitizens in detention include asylum seekers, long-time U.S. residents, and green card holders. In 1997, the daily detention population was about 12,000. Today it’s 50,000. As president, will you commit to reducing this bloated, expensive detention system by at least 75%?

Background

We call on every candidate for president to commit to overhauling our immigration system by creating new paths to citizenship and dismantling the inhumane and unfair immigration and border enforcement regime, including by ending the use of detainers and reducing immigration detention by at least 75%.

Overhauling Our Immigration System
We believe that the immigration system requires a complete overhaul — no single change in law or policy will fix it. Old policy solutions that traded paths to citizenship for increased enforcement in the interior and at the border must be rejected. The next president should begin by:

  1. Creating new paths to citizenship
    Approximately 11 million immigrants live in the United States without legal status — 3% of all U.S. residents. Two-thirds of undocumented adults have been here for at least 10 years. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, and our family members: About 5 million U.S.-born children live with at least one parent who is undocumented, and undocumented adults make up about 4.8% of the workforce. Without bringing all of these individuals into the embrace of citizenship, we are institutionalizing a permanent underclass, primarily Latino, Asian, and Black, living and working in the U.S. but often unable or afraid to assert civil and constitutional rights. The next president must champion legislation to provide fair and achievable paths to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants.
  2. Dismantling the inhumane and unfair immigration and border enforcement regime
    Under the Trump administration, millions of immigrants who made the U.S. their home reasonably fear that they or their family members could be detained and deported at any time. Federal agents are conducting workplace raids across the country, arresting immigrants at check-in appointments and asylum interviews, and targeting courthouses and Greyhound bus stations. The federal government has taken aggressive steps to coerce local police into identifying immigrants for deportation and turning them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Arrested immigrants are jailed in a detention system that has grown in size by 60% in just two years. In 2018, the federal government detained almost 400,000 people and deported 256,000 people.

It will require bold steps to dismantle the immigration and border enforcement regime, including but not limited to:

  • Ending the use of ICE detainers
    An ICE detainer is a request from ICE to a state or local law enforcement agency to jail someone until the person can be taken into federal immigration custody — for up to 48 hours beyond the time that the person would otherwise be released. Detainers are the linchpin in ICE’s reliance on local police as “force multipliers” to carry out its mass deportation agenda. An end to their use would dramatically reduce deportations.
  • Reducing daily immigration detention levels by at least 75%
    ICE is responsible for the largest immigration detention system in the world — a sprawling network of ICE-run facilities, private prisons, and local jails operating with little to no meaningful oversight, costing more than $8 million per day in federal taxpayer dollars. Noncitizens in detention include asylum seekers, long-time U.S. residents, and green card holders; they are jailed simply to ensure they show up for their next immigration court date. In 1997, the average daily detention population was about 12,000. Today it’s 50,000 — which is 60% higher than it was just two years ago.