Washington, DC – At the macro level, the real contrasts on immigration remain between the two parties, not between the Democratic candidates. However, with the first Democratic debate under wraps, there are several important policies that pro-immigration voters want to hear more about. Below are some essential questions for the Democratic contenders that remain unasked and unanswered following last night’s debate.
1) On immigration, what do you think the Obama Administration has done right and what do you think the Obama Administration has done wrong? What would your administration do differently?
2) Congressional Republicans are trying to pass a law to have police act as immigration agents. A version of this bill is waiting for signature by the North Carolina Governor. Where do you stand on the issue of community policing and immigration enforcement?
3) In 1996, Congress passed a series of bills that cracked down on immigrants, with support from some Democrats. President Bill Clinton signed those bills into law. Do you support the 1996 laws? Have Democrats changed their way of thinking on immigration since the mid-1990s?
4) President Obama’s deferred action policies (DACA and DAPA) cover those who came here as children and i4dividuals who are parents of U.S. Citizens or legal residents. They leave out people who have been here for a long time and contributed to the country, but don’t happen to have children. Do you think those individuals should be included in executive action policies?
5) DAPA and the expansion of DACA are currently held up in the courts. Do you think these policies will ever be implemented? Do you support expanding them?
6) Have you ever visited an immigration detention facility? How about one where women and children are housed? If yes, what did you think about the system? If no, will you commit to doing so as a candidate?
7) An Illinois father, Brigido Acosta Luis, was deported in November 2013. An Ohio father, Javier Flores, was deported in September 2014, just weeks before the Obama Administration’s new policies were announced. Pastor Max Villatoro was deported in March 2015 after a massive public campaign to stop his deportation. These men all left behind spouses and U.S. Citizen children. Do you think their families should be able to reunite in the United States?
8) Senator Rubio, who used to support comprehensive immigration reform, now embraces a “piecemeal” approach. He claims that we have to prove that the border is secure before debating other reforms like a path to citizenship. Do you think this “compromise” approach will work and break the log jam in Congress?
9) Violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala is so high that people are fleeing for their lives. Yet the U.S. government’s response has been more focused on keeping them out rather than treating them as actual refugees. The Guardian recently reported that the United States has deported at least 83 people to their deaths. What do you think of the Obama Administration’s response? What would you do differently?
10) The Obama Administration has agreed to resettle 85,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2016, including 10,000 from Syria. Do you think this is too much, too little, or just right? What obligation does the United States have to take in people fleeing death and persecution around the world?
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “The Democratic presidential candidates remain in line with the American people on the core issue of immigration reform, a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans–in stark contrast to the Republican field. But pro-immigration voters want more. Supporting refugees from near and far; expanding deferred action; and reuniting families separated by deportation are all issues we want to hear more about. There are a lot of aspects of our nation’s immigration policy that need attention, if we are live up to our values as a nation of immigrants and a beacon of hope for refugees.”
Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform