Below are are some suggested issue briefs and questions to help you get candidates on the record when you’re meeting them at an event. It’s best to include some personal anecdotes or stories in your question. And feel free to rephrase or re-mix as you see fit.
We’ll be updating the briefs and questions periodically, so please check back for new information.
Q1: The United States locks up more people than any other country in the world. Organizations like the ACLU are working to cut the nation’s prison and jail populations in half. If you become President, would you commit to cutting the federal prison population in half by the end of your first term, and how would you achieve that?
Q2: According to an ACLU report, every 25 seconds in America someone is arrested for possessing drugs for personal use. That devastates communities, especially communities of color. Tell me, beyond marijuana, how would you stop criminalizing drug use and treat it like a public health issue?
Q3: The Washington Post reports that about 1,000 people are killed by police every year. Black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed by police. What will you do as president to end this national crisis around police violence?
Q1: Since 2008, with the creation of Secure Communities, ICE has relied heavily on local sheriffs to help identify immigrants in our families and our communities to arrest, detain, and deport – so much so that DHS calls Secure Communities its “force multiplier.” 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?
Q2: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for the largest immigration detention system in the world – a sprawling network of DHS-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. And in the past two years, it’s increased in size by 60 percent. Non-citizens 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. As President, will you commit to reducing this bloated and expensive system by at least 75 percent – bringing us back down to 1997 detention levels at least?
Q3: About 11 million immigrants are in the United States without legal status, and two-thirds of the 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 that’s made up mostly of Latino, Asian, and Black people who live and work here but often face exploitation and violation of their basic rights. In your first year in office, will you champion new legislation to create fair and achievable paths to citizenship for these people?
There is a humanitarian crisis at the border that President Trump has created. His emergency declaration for his wall obsession is built on lies about border security and abuses of executive power to access construction funds. The administration’s policies are designed to keep migrants with the right to apply for asylum out of the country and to further militarize border communities that are safe and pose no threat. DHS’s cruelty has resulted in family separations, deaths of children in Border Patrol custody, and the teargassing of toddlers.
Q1: Will you commit (i) to visiting the southwest border during your campaign to speak with border communities; and (ii) to removing Trump’s unjustified border barriers if elected?
Q2: Do you support efforts like Senator Leahy and Murray’s to reduce the size of Border Patrol’s enforcement zone, which currently extends 100 miles from any land or sea border, including entire states like Florida and Michigan?
Q3: What will you do to improve the treatment of migrants seeking asylum? Specifically, will you (i) increase the number of asylum-seekers processed at ports of entry, (ii) improve both humanitarian and legal treatment of families and children seeking protection in the United States, and (iii) reduce criminal prosecutions for border-crossing?
Federal bans on abortion coverage push abortion access out of reach for millions of people, particularly hurting low-income women and families who face multiple barriers to accessing health care. The president should work to ensure that health insurance covers abortion and all reproductive health care, just like any other health care.
Q1: How are you going to ensure that the health plan you are proposing covers all pregnancy-related care, including abortion care?
- Q1a: You support a Medicare for all plan. Will you guarantee that any health care plan includes full coverage for abortion along with all other pregnancy-related health care?
- Q1b: You support a Medicare buy-in plan/ public option buy-in plan so that people have the option to enroll in public or private health insurance. Will you guarantee that any insurance plan—whether public or private—covers abortion along with all other pregnancy- related health care?
Q2: I believe that the President should ensure that health insurance covers abortion and all reproductive health care, just like any other health care. Will you work with Congress to pass and commit to signing in to law the EACH Woman Act, which would ensure coverage for abortion for every woman, however much she earns or however she is insured?
Q1: I think we can agree that voting is a really important societal right. Everyone has the right to vote — everyone has a stake in their own future and their families’ future, even if they have made serious mistakes in the past. Tell me, would you support the ability of people in prison to vote while still serving time?
Q2: I believe that no citizen of the United States should lose their right to vote. In Maine and Vermont, voting is such a basic civil right that they do not lose it even if they are sentenced to prison. Do you think the rest of the country should follow Maine and Vermont’s example?
Q3: These days, I can buy food for my family at a drive through in literally five minutes, but voting could require standing in line for hours. That seems wrong. Tell me specifically, what reforms would you support to make it easier for people to vote? Would you support moving election day to a weekend? Would you support allowing people to vote by mail without providing an excuse?