NOV. 26, 2015
Senator Bernie Sanders released his immigration plan on Tuesday. To read it — and every citizen should — is to be yanked back in time, to an America that not so long ago was having a reasonable immigration discussion and a time when major reform had strong bipartisan support and a shot at becoming law.
But since the immigration reform bill was killed, in 2013, the party that killed it — the Republicans — has dragged the immigration debate to grotesque depths that go well beyond the usual nativist bigotry. Republican presidential candidates are arguing, in all seriousness, about sealing the border with fantastical 2,000-mile fences and weaponized drones; merging state, local and federal authorities and private prisons into one all-seeing immigration police state; forcibly registering American Muslims; mass-deporting 11 million Mexicans and others in a 21st century Trail of Tears; and turning away thousands of refugees fleeing war and terrorism in the Middle East.
Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, turns away from the insanity. His plan starts with the right premise: that immigrants should be welcomed and assimilated, not criminalized and exploited. His proposals seek to uphold American values, bolster the rule of law, bolster the economy and protect and honor families.
Recognizing Congress’s chronic inaction on immigration, Mr. Sanders promises to use executive authority well beyond what President Obama has done. He would protect young immigrants and their parents from deportation, and give “broad administrative relief” to young immigrants, to the parents of citizens and legal permanent residents and to others who would have been allowed to stay under the 2013 Senate bill. This affirms the humane and sensible principle behind that legislation — that 11 million unauthorized immigrants should stay and contribute, not be isolated and expelled. (Continued)