For Immediate Release
February 18, 2016
Contact: SG Sarmiento, 

Questions for Tonight’s Debate

As the Democratic candidates meet once again to debate in Nevada, they have only begun to clarify their positions on key immigration policies. Below, are some questions that should be raised tonight and answered by Senator Sanders and former Secretary of State Clinton. After nearly 3 million deportations under a Democratic administration, it’s not clear that the party establishment even recognizes that its approach to immigrant and refugee rights is failing.

1) Deferred action for immigrant workers:

Legalization for 11 million people, with a path to citizenship, is one goal of the immigrant rights movement, and there is much that the executive branch could do to incrementally advance inclusion of this population. Republicans in the last debate spoke of a new guest worker program, but the AFL-CIO has made clear that past and prospective guest worker programs would be “akin to slavery.” With federal legislation blocked in a dysfunctional Congress for the foreseeable future, what steps would you take to advance the inclusion of undocumented workers in the US? Would you support protections and an administrative deferred action program for all undocumented immigrant workers?

2) Truth about the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP-COMM):

On February 11, Senator Sanders and Rep. Grijalva sent a letter criticizing the Department of Homeland Security’s new deportation program, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). The letter suggested that the new program is a mere re-branding of the disgraced Se Communities “S-COMM” jail-based deportation dragnet, which gave rise to Arizona’s SB1070. While ICE is facing two federal lawsuits for refusing to come clean about PEP, DHS and ICE leadership continue a national offensive to place ICE in jails, entangling our unjust immigration laws in the morass of mass incarceration. What would you do untangle ICE’s role in local law enforcement? Given the national consensus about the need for criminal justice reform, what would you do to address the conflation of civil immigration enforcement regime with local criminal law-enforcement?

3) Raids on refugees:

Over 140 members of Congress have rejected the recent raids again Central American refugee mothers and children. The raids, at the beginning of an election year, demonstrate that the deportation regime has not disappeared and can be accelerated at any time, for any political motivation. In this case, the White House has claimed that its raid strategy is necessary to deter families from fleeing the violence and Central America. Do you believe immigration enforcement should be used to as a deterrent, particularly toward refugees? Would you support giving Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to those fleeing violence from Central American countries?

4) Fight for 15:

Across the country, there is momentum to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour as part of a growing movement to confront income inequality. A problem though is that many existing labor protections, including the status quo minimum wage, often lie outside of the reach of immigrant workers. What is your plan to ensure that immigrant workers will have access to new minimum wage protections? What will be your plan to ensure that all workers, including immigrants, have access to existing labor protections?


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