Democratic Presidential hopefuls gathered in California last night for their sixth debate. While immigration hasn't been discussed much at the last two debates, last night, the candidates were asked for their position on the illegal-alien population and how they would handle the families who were separated at the border.
Andrew Yang on whether he would move on a permanent fix for DACA recipients:
Of course I would. I'm the son of immigrants myself, and I know that Dreamers are essentially Americans in everything but this legal classification. ...
I believe everyone on this stage would do the right thing by Dreamers in the first 100 days. I would make it a top priority. I'm the son of immigrants myself. The fact is, almost half of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or children of immigrants. Immigrants make our country stronger and more dynamic.
And immigrants are being scapegoated for issues they have absolutely nothing to do with. If you go to the factory in Michigan, it's not wall-to-wall immigrants. It's wall-to-wall robot arms and machines. We have to send the opposite message of this administration.
And as your president, I think I could send a very clear message, where if you are considering immigrating to this country and I am the president, you would realize my son or daughter can become president of the United States. That's the opposite of the current administration, and that's the message I would love to send to the world.
Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked if he would support amnesty for all illegal aliens, or just a segment of the illegal population:
This is what I would do. Day one, executive order, restore the legal status of 1.8 million young people in the DACA program.
Day one, we change border policy so that federal agents will never snatch babies from the arms of their mothers.
Day one, day one, we introduce bipartisan legislation, which will, in fact, be comprehensive, which will result in a path toward citizenship for all of the 11 million who are undocumented. That is what the people of our country want.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar also responded to the questions posed to Yang and Sanders:
My view on this comes from experience. When I got to the Senate, Senator Kennedy asked me to be one of the two new senators that was in the group to work on the immigration reform package. We got so close to passing that. I voted for it. Not everyone did. But most of the Democrats did.
Then I was on the Judiciary Committee when President Obama was president. And we worked very hard on that immigration reform. We actually passed that with Republican votes.
Then I was in the small group that worked on the compromise on the Dreamers that would have solved that problem. We didn't get that done because this president gut-punched us.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked if he would compensate any families who were separated at the border:
Yes, and they should have a fast track to citizenship, because what the United States did under this president to them was wrong. We have a moral obligation to make right what was broken.
And on the larger issue of immigration, my understanding of this issue isn't theoretical. It's not something I formed in committee rooms in Washington. It begins with the fact that my household, my family, came from abroad. My father immigrated to this country and became a U.S. citizen.
It comes from the fact that I'm the mayor of a city where neighborhoods that were left for dying are now coming back to life, largely because of the contributions mainly of Latino immigrants. And I've seen those same neighborhoods shut down, families huddling in church, panicking just because of the rumor of an ICE raid. That did not make our country safer. ...
When I am president, based on those experiences, I will make sure that this is a country of laws and of values. And that means not only ending these unspeakable, cruel practices at the border, but finally and truly fixing the immigration system that has needed a full overhaul since the 1980s.
Vice President Joe Biden wasn't asked about immigration, but still responded to the original question regarding DACA:
Number one, the reason we're the country we are is because of immigration. We've been able to cherry pick the best from every single continent.
The people who come here have determination, resilience. They are ready to stand up and work like the devil. We have 24 out of every 100 children in our schools today is Hispanic. The idea that we are going to walk away and not provide every opportunity for them is not only stupid and immoral, but it's bad for America.
They are the future of America and we should invest in them. Everybody will benefit from it, every single American. And you should get used to it. This is a nation of immigrants. That's who we are. That's why we're who we are. That's what makes us different. And we should invest in them.
Read the full debate transcript at the Washington Post.
Updated: Fri, Jan 3rd 2020 @ 9:10am EST