President Trump’s immigration agenda has been one of the most dominant, polarizing and per public opinion most unpopular issues over the last four years, causing substantial human, economic, and political consequences. Miami-Dade county was supposed to be the site of the 2nd Presidential debate and with a population that is 53% foreign born, it would have been a great place for each candidate to be asked about the records on immigration, and plans for this important issue.
Despite this debate being canceled, the American people will hear from both candidates in separate town halls this evening, and deserve a discussion on immigration. Here are the five immigration questions we are hoping will be discussed tonight:
1. How will your immigration policies reflect the 74% of Americans in battleground states who support citizenship for undocumented immigrants?
- According to recent polling, in states where President Trump’s supporters make up key demographics – such as Georgia, Iowa, and Texas – support for immigrants is overwhelmingly positive, with over 74% of voters in all three states supporting a pathway for citizenship for immigrants in this country.
- Though immigrant families are most negatively impacted by the Trump Administration’s policies, United States citizens – many of whom were denied a COVID-19 relief stimulus check in March because they had an immigrant spouse – will also feel the weight of anti-immigrant demagoguery and enforcement.
- Over the last four years, President Trump has attempted to frame his anti-immigrant attacks as in the best interests of the American public, despite consistent evidence showing otherwise.
2. Family separation at the border is one of the most cruel and devastating policy decisions of this Administration. What will you do to repair the harm done and allow asylum-seeking immigrants to safely and legally immigrate to the U.S.?
- In a deliberate policy decision designed to deter people from legally claiming asylum, this Administration has ripped more than 5,000 children from their parents’ arms both at the southern border and throughout communities across the country.
- Despite pulling back from their 2018 efforts due to massive public outrage, according to a draft report by the Department of Justice, top officials – including Attorney General Jeff Sessions – were a driving force behind the cruel policies, saying that “we need to take away children,” no matter how young.
- In keeping with this Administration’s lack of concern for the children ripped away from their parents and the thousands who remain unaccounted for, First Lady Melania Trump was recorded on tape dismissing the gravity of the situation: “They said, ‘Oh, what about the children that were separated?’ Give me a fucking break.”
- The President’s attacks on immigrants cannot be separated from the United States’ violent history of family separation through enslavement, incarceration, and detainment. This will be yet another ugly stain on our nation’s history, with consequences extending beyond undocumented immigrants and into the lives of millions of U.S. citizens who are part of mixed-status families.
3. How will you ensure that DACA recipients and TPS holders – over a million people across the country – are able to continue living, working, and thriving in the communities many have been contributing to for decades? What will you do to protect their more than half a million U.S.-citizen children?
- The majority of DACA recipients and TPS holders have lived in this country for over 20 years, relying on their work permits and protections under the programs to provide for their families and continue contributing to all of our communities. Many of these people have established roots and built families in this country for decades, only to be used as political bargaining chips by this Administration.
- Multiple Federal courts – including the Supreme Court – and U.S. citizens across the political spectrum all agree that this Administration’s continuous attacks on DACA and TPS are not only politically unsalient, they have also cruelly and unnecessarily upturned the lives of roughly a million people and torn more than half a million U.S.-citizen children from their parents who are protected by these programs.
- DACA recipients working as beloved educators in our school systems, essential workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic, and students seeking an opportunity to learn and grow have spent the last three years in a constant state of unrest, pouring into our communities and economy with little in return.
4. What will you do to reverse attacks on legal immigration avenues and their impact on all American families, especially considering the role millions of immigrants – including millions of undocumented individuals – continue to play in the public health response to and economic recovery from COVID-19?
- In addition to enacting grave human injustices against millions of people, President Trump’s relentless attacks on the immigration system and visa programs have put at risk not only the economic prosperity of our families and economy, but the safety and security of our country.
- This Administration’s attempts to restrict legal immigration – and remove millions of people from their jobs and communities – include proposals to end an immigration program for entrepreneurs and job creators, stripping spouses of H-1B visa holders of their ability to work, limiting the length of time international students can study in the U.S., and suspending Optional Practical Training (OPT) for international graduates.
- Without immigrants of all statuses, the United States would be wholly unequipped to heal from the devastating impacts of coronavirus. If this Administration continues its relentless efforts to restrict visas and deport immigrants from our communities, we will see the impact across all industries — both during and outside of moments of global crisis.
- Maintenance: Immigrants account for 35% of all workers in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance nationwide, allowing for American people who are unable to work from home to continue working in clean, safe environments.
- Healthcare: Immigrants are an indispensable part of our nation’s healthcare system, representing 17% of the overall workforce. This includes 43,500 DACA recipients and an estimated 131,300 TPS holders in the health care and social assistance industries.
- Farmwork: Between 47 and 70% of immigrant farmworkers are undocumented, and their role as first responders helping to protect the flow of food – fruits and vegetables, needs and seeds, and frozen meat – to families across the country is crucial in our ability to survive this pandemic and grow our economy stronger.
5. What will you do to repair the harm caused by this Administration’s continuous attempts to gut the refugee and asylum programs, turning our back on hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people?
- Beginning in the first months of his Administration, President Trump issued a series of executive orders, drastically restricting immigration avenues and ensuring that virtually every undocumented person became a priority for removal. Most recently, this includes an announcement that the Administration would cut refugee admissions to a new historic low, harkening back to the worst moments in our nation’s history.
- Cubans remain among the largest group of people targeted by these anti-immigrant policies, with The Trump administration opening deportation proceedings against 25,044 Cubans in fiscal year 2019 and continuing to rely on its devastating 2018 family separation policies as a means of deterrence and enforcement.
- In addition to ripping families apart, this Administration continues to mass deport people – many of whom have fled their homes in search of safety and freedom – to detention centers, which remain unsafe, crowded, and deadly – even moreso in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a reminder, if you want to speak with people directly impacted by these issues, reach out to [email protected] and we can help connect you to people in your community.