David Goldman / AP
Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 | 5:35 p.m.
As immigration remains a front-and-center issue in the presidential election, supporters of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders are cheering his immigration plan as the only one that would reform trade policies and law enforcement.
Sanders, the Vermont senator and Democratic socialist, released a detailed immigration plan on Tuesday in which he promised that undocumented immigrants won’t be deported if they’ve been in the U.S. for at least five years — a move that would protect 9 million people. He vowed to close privately run immigration detain centers, end programs that give local law enforcement some of the power of federal immigration officials and expand efforts to give the children of undocumented immigrants legal status.
“We have seen large numbers of our community thrown behind bars as immigrants have been harshly criminalized, often for something as minor as a traffic ticket in jurisdictions where local police enforce federal immigration law,” said Hina Naveed, co-director of the Dream Action Coalition, an immigration reform advocacy group. “Sanders would end the expensive contracts we have with immigrant detention centers, as well as the highly controversial bed quota that guarantees them business at all of our expense. These are large points of difference and will have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of diverse, mixed-status families.”
Sanders' peers in the hunt for the Democratic nomination — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley — have also released similar plans but without as many details. Sanders has been the loudest on the issue, as his campaign makes an effort to reach out to the Latino and immigrant demographic. As the first nominating events in Iowa and New Hampshire approach, Sanders is doing what he can to win over a demographic that Clinton has spent years wooing. The voting bloc is a must-win for Sanders, who’s trailing Clinton in Iowa and beating her in New Hampshire polls. He visited Las Vegas earlier this month to introduce his immigration policy to the hispanic community.
Sanders supporters in Nevada held an immigration event on Tuesday at the home of local immigration activist Jackie Ramos.