REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Millions of undocumented immigrants in America were let down recently by two rising GOP stars — the new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who said that he will not move forward with a comprehensive immigration reform bill, until President Barack Obama leaves office; and by presidential contender Senator Marco Rubio, who said that President Obama’s deferral program, which has delayed the deportations of hundreds of thousands, has to stop — with or without comprehensive immigration reform.
But now, they’ve found a new champion in Democratic presidential contender Senator Bernie Sanders. Speaking at as Las Vegas forum organized by immigration activists on Monday, Sanders said he would go beyond President Obama’s executive actions on immigration if he’s elected.
“Our goal has got to be to rally the American people, to understand the importance of comprehensive immigration reform, providing legal status to the 11 million undocumented people today who are living in the shadows and moving toward a path toward citizenship,” expressed Sanders.
Sanders says he would first push for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. But if that didn’t happen, he would expand on Obama’s executive actions — providing broad relief for parents of U.S. citizens, legal permanent resident and Dreamers.
Sanders stressed that the United States cannot sweep up millions of people and deport them. He reasoned, “The bottomline for me and I think frankly for most Americans — although people do disagree — the goal is to bring families together, not to separate them.”
Sanders’ plan would provide protection for all immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years, and does not require immigrants to go through background checks to get deportation relief. It is estimated to protect up to seven million undocumented immigrants, compared to President Obama’s plan to help four million people.
Sanders’ toughest rival, Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton, has also pledged to go beyond President Obama’s executive actions to provide more relief to undocumented immigrants. She has spoken extensively about immigration while on the campaign trail.
As the future of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration remains in limbo at the courts, what’s reassuring for undocumented immigrants and their families for now is that they continue to have champions in Washington — and possibly in the country’s next president.
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