Bernie Sanders on Immigration

Democratic primary challenger; Independent VT Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)


I'll stand with 11M undocumented immigrants in this country

I am the son of an immigrant, young man of 17 who came to this country without a nickel. I have some sense of the immigrant experience. I will stand with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. I have been committed to the fight against all forms of discrimination -- racial discrimination, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and religious bigotry. I will lead an administration that will look like America, will end the divisiveness brought by Trump, and bring us together.
Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta , Nov 20, 2019

Xenophobia demonizes immigrants; refugees aren't criminals

Q: You want to provide undocumented immigrants free health care and free college. Why won't this drive even more people to come to the U.S. illegally?

SANDERS: No, because we'll have strong border protections. But the main point I want to make is that what Trump is doing through his racism and his xenophobia, is demonizing a group of people. And as president, I will end that demonization. If a mother and a child walk thousands of miles on a dangerous path, in my view, they are not criminals. They are people fleeing violence. And we've got to ask ourselves, "Why are people walking 2,000 miles to a strange country where they don't know the language?" So what we will do, the first week we are in the White House, is bring the entire hemisphere together to talk about how we rebuild Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador so people do not have to flee their own countries.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit) , Jul 30, 2019

Comprehensive immigration reform; stop attacking allies

The issue here requires us finally to do what should have been done years ago, and that is pass comprehensive immigration reform to make sure that our young people in this country who are in the DACA program get immediate legal protection, and that we have a humane border policy. We need a decent relationship with Mexico. They are our allies, as is the case with Canada. We should not be confronting them every other day.
Source: CNN State of the Union 2019 interview , Jun 2, 2019

We need humane immigration policy, not demonization

What we need is a border policy that is humane that, among other things, expedites the asylum process by bringing in a lot more legal staff and judges, so that people do not have to wait.

It is a serious problem, but it is not the kind of crisis that requires demonization of desperate people who in some cases have walked 1,000 miles with their children. So, it is an issue, but you don't demonize desperate people. We deal with it in a rational and humane way.

Source: CNN State of the Union 2019 interview , Jun 2, 2019

Real national emergency is creating path to citizenship

Trump is not going to get the wall [which he claims is needed to deal with the "national emergency" at the southern border]. The real national emergency that we have is that we do not have comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship. The emergency that we have is we have 1.8 million young people who are eligible for the DACA program who are scared to death any day that they could be deported, even though they spent their whole lives in this country. The goal is to finally deal with comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship and a humane policy at the border for those who seek asylum. America should not be the country which grabs little children at the border out of the arms of their mothers. That is not that what this country needs to be.
Source: CNN Town Hall on 2020 Democratic presidential primary , Feb 25, 2019

Restructure ICE; don't necessarily abolish it

Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Feb 19, 2019

Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens

[In the State of the Union speech], in terms of crime, Trump talked about a terrible and heinous murder in Reno, Nevada committed by an undocumented immigrant who happens to be Latino. In fact, over the last several years, Trump has talked time and time again about crimes committed by undocumented Latino immigrants.

His demonization of Latinos is racist, it's wrong, and it also happens to be factually inaccurate. Undocumented Latino immigrants commit fewer crimes in America than the general public.

Isn't it strange, however, that when we talk about terrible crimes committed in Nevada, Trump forgot to mention that, in 2017, a white man named Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded 851--the deadliest shooting in modern American history.

If he is concerned about crime how come Trump didn't mention that? Needless to say, he also didn't mention the need for common-sense gun safety legislation which would lower the terrible rate of mass shootings in our country.

Source: Progressive response to 2019 State of the Union speech , Feb 5, 2019

Comprehensive reform instead of an emergency wall

President Trump stated tonight, and, over and over again in recent weeks, that building a wall on the Mexican border is a national emergency. In fact, he shut down the government and caused enormous pain for some 800,000 federal employees because of his insistence for his wall.

No, Mr. Trump, building a wall is not an emergency.

In terms of immigration in this country, what we need to do is not to waste billions of dollars on a wall, but to finally address the need for comprehensive immigration reform--including a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented people.

It is inhumane, and not what America stands for, that tiny children at the border have been torn away from their parents. It is disgraceful that 1.8 million young people have lost their legal protection under the DACA program because of Trump's actions. It is heartbreaking that almost 11 million undocumented people living in this country worry every day about being deported & separated from their loved ones.

Source: Progressive response to 2019 State of the Union speech , Feb 5, 2019

Provide legal status to the 1.8 million DREAMers

Q: The White House Chief of Staff was asked about US border officials separating undocumented immigrant parents from children. He said, "The children will be taken care of, put into foster care. But the big point is, they elected to come illegally into the US." What are your thoughts?

SANDERS: I think it is heartless. I think the entire Trump views on immigration is heartless. Some 80% of the American people believe that we should provide legal status to the 1.8 million people in the DACA program. And that's a program that Trump killed. The American people believe that we should move forward for comprehensive immigration reform. And Trump is moving in exactly the wrong direction. And we see the cruelty of his immigration policies when you talk about the United States government separating children from their parents. We need to move aggressively and do what the American people want toward comprehensive immigration reform.

Source: CNN 2018 interviews of 2020 hopefuls , May 13, 2018

Wall is stupid, but ok as part of deal on DACA

The interviewer brought up the topic of immigration with a focus on Trump's DACA deal. "One of the many problems with Donald Trump is that he lies all the time," said Sanders almost instantly. What he says on Monday is not what he will say on Tuesday."

Sanders said that there was legislation that would give legal status to those under DACA that would give them path to citizenship. This would be in exchange for money to build Trump's much-talked-about wall which Sanders said is the "stupidest idea." Even so, he "reluctantly" voted for that legislation because he was "deeply concerned for these young people facing deportation."

Throughout the conversation, Sanders says that he stresses his concern for legal protection of DACA and said, "This is a country that has struggled from its inception that has hated from its beginning. We've got to oppose anyone who tries to divide us. We are strongest when we are working together for all of us, not just the people on top."

Source: Deadline.com blog on 2019 SXSW South-by-Southwest conference , Mar 9, 2018

The Great Wall was ok in 1600s; not so smart today

Q: The White House immigration proposal includes dramatic restrictions to family-based migration and the end of the visa lottery. Can you live with these changes in exchange for protecting DACA?

SANDERS: The focus right now has got to be to do what the American people want us to do--80% of the American people understand that we have got to restore the legal status that Trump took away from 800,000 young DREAMers--people who came to this country when they are two or three years of age--and we cannot let them be put in a position where they're subjected to deportation. So the main focus to my mind has got to be to make sure that Dreamers have legal status and a path towards citizenship.

Q: What about a deal with a border wall?

SANDERS: The bad part comes is the idea of a wall, which I thought was a great idea in the 15th century when China built the Great Wall. Not so smart today when we have technology that is much more cost effective in terms of protecting the border.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2018 interviews of 2020 hopefuls , Jan 28, 2018

Give undocumented workers legal protections

Exploitation of undocumented workers is certainly not limited to the agricultural sector. The Chicago doll manufacturer Ty Inc. used layers of shadowy labor brokers to find low-wage workers, many of them undocumented, for its factories. Since the workers weren't direct employees of the company, Ty had plausible deniability about their immigration status.

Walmart has employed undocumented workers to clean its stores. Tyson Foods has used them to process chickens, amid many violations of laws on workplace conditions and allegations of human smuggling.

We must extend labor protections to undocumented workers. If we start giving undocumented workers legal protections, we can slow down the "race to the bottom." But that would affect big business's bottom line, and therein lies the rub.

Source: Guide to Political Revolution, by Bernie Sanders, p.183-4 , Aug 29, 2017

Refugee vetting mechanisms we have now are very, very strong

Q: Do you think the current procedures that we have to vet refugees coming into this country, do you think it needs to be improved?

SANDERS: The vetting mechanisms we have now are very, very strong. If anybody has an idea as to how we can make them stronger, let's go forward. I don't think there's any debate whether you're progressive, conservative or anybody else that we want to keep the United States safe and we want to be 100% clear that anybody who comes into this country should not be coming into this country to do us harm. Where there's a whole lot of discussion about the racist, in my view, immigration policies of the Trump administration which are based on anti-Muslim ideology, which are doing us enormous harm all over the world, something else is going on at the exact same moment.

Source: Meet the Press 2017 interview by Chuck Todd , Feb 12, 2017

I do not support the Minutemen anti-immigrant vigilantes

CLINTON: In 2006, Senator Sanders supported indefinite detention for people facing deportation and stood with the Minutemen vigilantes in their ridiculous, absurd efforts to "hunt down immigrants."

Q: Did you support the Minutemen?

SANDERS: Of course not. There was a piece of legislation supported by dozens of members of the House which codified existing legislation. What the secretary is doing tonight--and has done very often--is take large pieces of legislation and take pieces out of it. No, I do not support vigilantes, and that is a horrific statement, an unfair statement to make. I [spent] my political career fighting for workers, fighting for the poorest people in this country. Madame Secretary, I will match my record against yours any day of the week.

Source: 2016 PBS Democratic primary debate in Miami , Mar 9, 2016

Base policy on uniting families, not dividing families

Immigration reform is a hot debate. It's divided the country. But I would hope that as we have that debate, we do not, as Donald Trump and others have done, resort to racism and xenophobia and bigotry. This idea of suddenly rounding up 11 million people and taking them outside of this country is a vulgar, absurd idea that I hope very few people support. At the heart of my immigration policy is to unite families, not divide families. The idea that a mother is living here and her children are on the other side of the border is wrong. I talked to a young man who was serving in the United States military and while he was serving, his wife was deported. Policies like that should not be allowed to exist.
Source: 2016 PBS Democratic primary debate in Miami , Mar 9, 2016

2007 immigration bill was a bad bill, opposed by many

With regard to that 2007 immigration bill, as you may know, LULAC, the major Hispanic organization in his country, also opposed that bill as did many other Latino organizations. You know, I think it's very hard to make the case that Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama, me, La Raza, United Farmworkers, Dolores Huerta, leaders of the Latino community, would have supported a bill that actually promoted modern slavery. That was one of the many excuses used not to vote for the 2007 bill.
Source: 2016 PBS Democratic primary debate in Miami , Mar 9, 2016

Support Obama's reforms on DAPA and DACA

I supported the 2013 immigration reform bill. We need comprehensive immigration reform, if the Congress does not do its job, as president of the United States I will use the executive powers of that office to do what has to be done, to do what President Obama did, and expand on that. I applaud President Obama for his efforts on DAPA and DACA. And I think we have got to expand those efforts.
Source: 2016 PBS Democratic primary debate in Miami , Mar 9, 2016

I support children entering for asylum from war-torn areas

CLINTON: We need to be very concerned about children coming to this country on their own. In 2006, Senator Sanders voted in the House with hard-line Republicans for indefinite detention for undocumented immigrants, and then he sided with those Republicans to stand with vigilantes known as Minute Men who were taking up outposts along the border to hunt down immigrants.

SANDERS: One of the human tragedies of recent years is children from Honduras. I said welcome those children into this country, Secretary Clinton said send them back. Honduras and that region of the world may be the most violent region in our hemisphere. Gang lords, vicious people torturing people, doing horrible things to families. Children fled that part of the world to try to meet with their family members in this country, taking a route that was horrific, trying to start a new life. Secretary Clinton did not support those children coming into this country. I did. I will not deport children from America.

Source: 2016 PBS Democratic primary debate in Miami , Mar 9, 2016

Supports path to citizenship for illegals

I am supportive of comprehensive immigration reform and a path towards citizenship for 11 million people today who are living in the shadows.
Source: MSNBC Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire , Feb 4, 2016

2007: No comprehensive reform: guest workers are semi-slaves

Q: In 2007, you voted against immigration reform. Why should Latino voters trust you now?

A: I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they're working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they're thrown out of the country. I was not the only progressive to vote against that legislation for that reason.

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

Comprehensive reform with no border fence & no guest workers

Q: What are Bernie's views on immigration generally?

A: Bernie believes America's current immigration system is broken and requires comprehensive reform. An important aspect of immigration reform, according to Bernie, is to establish some pathway to legal residency or citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers living in the United States so that they need not work and live in the shadows.

Q: What about the border fence?

A: While he believes that border security is important for the country, Bernie doesn't believe that a fence is the way to achieve that security.

Q: What about guest worker visas?

A: Bernie believes that our visa system must protect American jobs instead of simply allowing corporations to score cheap labor via temporary work visas.

Source: 2016 grassroots campaign website FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" , Sep 5, 2015

Secure borders without building a fence

Bernie says that we are a "nation of immigrants. That is, in fact, the strength of America." He believes the US must create an immigration system that invites greater innovation, diversity, and economic opportunity for both American-born citizens and the people who want to make this land their home. Bernie supports immigration reform that will address the legal status of the 11 million undocumented people in our country, protect American jobs by way of visa reform, secure the border, and protect undocumented workers from labor exploitation.
Source: 2016 grassroots campaign website FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" , Sep 5, 2015

Open borders for guest workers pushes down U.S. worker wages

Q: You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. Does that include raising the level of immigration to a level of open borders?

A: Open borders? No, that's a Koch brothers proposal.

Q: Really?

A: Of course. That's a right- wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States.

Q: But it would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn't it?

A: It would make everybody in America poorer --you're doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a country called the United States or any other country, you have an obligation to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don't believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

Source: Vox.com 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 28, 2015

Since NAFTA, Mexican undocumented immigration up 185%

Since the implementation of NAFTA, the number of Mexicans living below the poverty line has increased by over 14 million people. Almost 2 million small famers have been displaced. And in the twenty years since NAFTA growth in per capita GDP has been only half of that experienced by other Latin American nations. Not surprisingly we have seen a 185 percent increase in the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico from 1992 to 2011.

We as a nation have got to realize the importance of dealing not just with the issue of immigration but with the very real refugee crisis we face.

Source: The Essential Bernie Sanders, by Jonathan Tasini, p. 98 , Jun 29, 2015

Disgraceful to shunt our workers into the shadows

It is no great secret that undocumented workers perform a critical role in our economy. Undocumented workers build many of our homes, cook our meals, maintain our landscapes. We even entrust undocumented workers with that which we hold most dear--our children.

Despite the central role they play in our economy and in our daily lives, undocumented workers are reviled by many for political gain and shunted into the shadows. It is time for this disgraceful situation to end. It is time to end the politics of division on this country, of politicians playing one group of people against another: white against black, male against female, straight against gay, native born against immigrant.

That is why I supported the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform legislation. We cannot and we should not even be talking about sweeping up millions of men, women, and children--many of whom have been here for years--and throwing them out of the country. That's wrong and that type of discussion has got to end.

Source: The Essential Bernie Sanders, by Jonathan Tasini, p. 95-6 , Jun 19, 2015

Offer path to citizenship; waive deportation for DREAMers

On immigration: Offer path to citizenship. Waive some deportations now.

Sanders generally agrees with President Obama that most of the undocumented immigrants in the country now should be given a path to citizenship. He voted for the senate immigration bill in 2013, which would have increased border security and issued a provisional immigrant status to millions of undocumented residents once some significant security metrics had been met. In addition, Sanders has supported President Obama's use of executive orders to waive deportation for some groups of immigrants, including those who were brought to the United States as children.

Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , Apr 30, 2015

Climate change lays groundwork for mass migration

Scientists are not the only people warning us about the danger of climate change. Hear what the Department of Defense has to say about the impact of climate change on international and national security. What they point out--and I think what every sensible person understands--is that when people are unable to grow the food they need because of drought, when flood destroys their homes, when people throughout the world are forced to struggle for limited natural resources in order to survive, this lays the groundwork for the migration of people and international conflict. That is what the Department of Defense tells us.
Source: The Essential Bernie Sanders, by Jonathan Tasini, p. 35 , Oct 17, 2013

Immigrant labor should be treated as valuable, but are not

Negative aspects of 21st century farming: water and air pollution, the hazards of industrial agriculture (farms in California or Idaho or New Mexico can exceed 10,00 cows), and milk that is perhaps not as healthful as that obtained from pasture-grazed animals. The labor situation on dairy farms, which are more and more dependent on immigrant labor from Mexico and Central America. Some of these immigrants are treated as the valuable laborers they are; others, unfortunately and tragically, are not.
Source: Sanders Intro to `Milk Money`, by Kirk Kardashian, p. ix-x , Oct 9, 2012

Include dairy in H2A visas (temporary agricultural workers)

The H2-A agricultural visa program is deficient in many ways, but most acutely for dairy farmers in that it applies only to seasonal workers, such as the migrant apple pickers that swarm Washington State during the harvest and then go home when the trees are bare. But, obviously, cows need to be milked all year long, so dairy farmers can't benefit from this program. S.358, the "H2-A Improvement Act," attempts a simple fix by adding sheepherders, goat-herders, and dairy workers to the list of "temporary agricultural workers" that H2-A originally blessed with legal status.

Dairy farmer's main beef with the H2-A program is that it's too cumbersome. It requires employers to file multiple applications with state and federal labor offices and they must predict sometimes years in advance how many workers they will need. Furthermore, the law requires employers to show that they put in good faith effort to recruit American workers before applying for visas for immigrant labor.

Source: Sanders Intro to "Milk Money", by Kirk Kardashian, p.156-7 , Oct 9, 2012

English-Only, based in xenophobia, hurts legal immigrants

As in other countries with economic problems, xenophobia is intensifying. The issue for some can be summarized by the writing I recently saw on a t-shirt: "If you can't speak English, get the f--k out of the US."

The "English Only" bill mandates that all official communication by the federal government be in English. This means that members of Congress from a heavily Hispanic or Polish district, for instance, would be prohibited from communicating with their constituents in Spanish or Polish. Election, tax, and other information needed by millions of citizens would be available only in English. President Clinton indicates that he will veto this legislation, and the bill will not go anywhere--not even to the Senate. But it passes in the House by a vote of 259 to 169. 8 Republicans, 160 Democrats, and I vote against the bill.

Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p.136 , Jun 17, 1997

Bernie Sanders on Voting Record

2007: I voted against slavery-like guest worker programs

CLINTON: We should be deporting criminals, not hardworking immigrant families who do the very best they can and are keeping economies going in many places. I'm a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. I was one of the original sponsors of the DREAM Act. I voted for comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Senator Sanders voted against it at that time.

SANDERS: In terms of 2007 immigration reform, yeah, I did vote against it. I voted against it because the Southern Poverty Law Center said that the guest-worker programs that were embedded in this agreement were akin to slavery. Akin to slavery, where people came into this country to do guest work were abused, were exploited, and if they stood up for their rights, they'd be thrown out of this country. It wasn't just me who opposed it. It was LULAC, one of the large Latino organizations in this country. It was the AFL-CIO. It was some of the most progressive members of the United States Congress.

Source: 2016 PBS Democratic debate in Wisconsin , Feb 11, 2016

Voted YES on continuing federal funds for declared "sanctuary cities".

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To create a reserve fund to ensure that Federal assistance does not go to sanctuary cities that ignore the immigration laws of the United States and create safe havens for illegal aliens and potential terrorists. This vote is a motion to table the amendment; voting YES would kill the amendment.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. VITTER: There are so-called sanctuary cities which establish as an official policy of their jurisdiction: We are not going to cooperate with Federal immigration enforcement officials. That is wrong. What is more, it is completely contrary to Federal immigration law. My amendment says: We are going to put some consequence to that defiance of Federal law. We are not going to give them COPS funds. We are going to send those funds, instead, to all of those other jurisdictions which abide by Federal law.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. DURBIN: There are sanctuary cities in about 23 different States across America. What the Vitter amendment will do is to take away the COPS funding from those cities. Police departments will tell you they need the cooperation of everyone to solve crimes and stop crime. If you create fear in the minds of those who are here in an undocumented status that any cooperation with the police will result in their arrest, they will not cooperate and criminals will go free. Let's not use the COPS Program as some sort of threat. If you want to deal with immigration, deal with it responsibly in a comprehensive way. SUPPORTER'S RESPONSE:Sen. VITTER: If folks feel that way, they should come to Congress and change Federal law, not simply defy Federal law. This is another amnesty vote. Are we going to give folks in sanctuary cities amnesty for defying Federal law and refusing to cooperate with Federal immigration officials? LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Motion to Table Agreed to, 58-40

Reference: Bill Table S.Amdt.4309 to S.Con.Res ; vote number 08-S069 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted NO on comprehensive immigration reform.

    Establishes specified benchmarks which must be met before the guest worker and legalization programs may be initiated:
  1. operational control of the border with Mexico;
  2. Border Patrol increases;
  3. border barriers, including vehicle barriers, fencing, radar, and aerial vehicles;
  4. detention capacity for illegal aliens apprehended crossing the US-Mexico border;
  5. workplace enforcement, including an electronic employment verification system; and
  6. Z-visa alien processing.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

If we do not legislate now, we will not legislate later this year when our calendar is crowded with Iraq and appropriations bills. We are then an election year, and it will be pushed over to 2009. Circumstances will not be better then, they will be worse.

A vote against cloture is a vote to kill the bill. A Senator may vote for cloture and then express himself in opposition to the bill by voting against the bill.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

If this bill becomes law, we will see only a 13% reduction in illegal immigration into America, and in the next 20 years we will have another 8.7 million illegals in our country. How can that be reformed? I submit this would be a disaster.

The Congressional telephone systems have shut down because of the mass phone calls Congress is receiving. A decent respect for the views of the American people says let's stop here now. Let's go back to the drawing board and come up with a bill that will work.

The American people get it, and they do have common sense and wisdom on this issue. They know repeating the fundamental mistakes of the 1986 bill, joining a big amnesty with inadequate enforcement, will cause the problem to grow and not diminish. They know promising enforcement after 30 years of broken promises isn't good enough. They know the so-called trigger is a joke because if the trigger is never pulled, the Z visas, the amnesty happens forever.

Reference: McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill; Bill S.1639 ; vote number 2007-235 on Jun 28, 2007

Voted NO on declaring English as the official language of the US government.

Voting YES would declare English as the national language of the Government of the US. Unless specifically provided by statute, no person would have an entitlement to have the Government of the US communicate or provide materials in any language other than English. If an exception is made with respect to the use of a language other than English, the exception does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language. If any form is issued by the Federal Government in a language other than English, the English language version of the form is the sole authority for all legal purposes. Nothing in this amendment shall prohibit the use of a language other than English.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Right now, the polling shows that 91% of the people in America want English as an official language, and 76% of Hispanics believe English should be an official language.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I believe the American people understand in order to succeed in our society, immigrants need to learn English. But the amendment would do a number of things that are problematical. The first is that it is contrary to the provisions of law that exist in many States. For example, in New Mexico, you have in their State Constitution, a provision that says that many of the documents within that State have to be provided in both English and Spanish. The same thing is true for the State of Hawaii. I believe this is a States rights issue, and those constitutions of those States ought to be respected. I do not believe it is a matter we ought to be imposing here from Washington DC.

Also, this amendment would undo an executive order conceived by President Bill Clinton and implemented by President George Bush. Both recognized it is important that people who have limited English proficiency receive the kinds of services so they can understand what is going on in terms of the interface between the Government and themselves.

Reference: National Language Amendment Act; Bill S.Amdt.1151 to S.1348 ; vote number 2007-198 on Jun 6, 2007

Voted YES on eliminating the "Y" nonimmigrant guestworker program.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

This legislation says we wish to add something called guest workers or temporary workers. With guest workers, working Americans would discover there is no opportunity for upward mobility at their job. In fact, every day their employers are trying to find ways to push down wages, eliminate retirement, and eliminate health care. What has happened in this country, with what is called the "new global economy," is dramatic downward pressure on income for American workers. The guest worker program provides that 400,000 people will be able to come in to assume jobs in our country per year--adding to the 12 million illegal immigrants already here.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I certainly concur about the need to secure our borders, about the need to have a workable immigration system, and the need for reform that ensures the rule of law is restored in the US. Where I differ is in the belief that we can actually achieve these goals if we have no ability for temporary workers to come to the country. This amendment would eliminate the temporary worker program from this bill.

Now, there are several reasons why a temporary worker program, within certain constraints, is a good idea. The first reason is because it will help to relieve the magnet for illegal immigration. The reason most of the people are crossing our border illegally is to get employment. There are jobs available for them. Some people say this is work Americans will not do. That is actually not true. But there are not enough American citizens to do all of the work that needs to be done. So naturally the law of supply and demand sets in here. People come across the border illegally, and they take that work. What we want to do is both close the border, but also eliminate the magnet for illegal employment here, because the reality is desperate people will always try to find some way to get into the country.

Reference: Dorgan Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.1153 on S.1348 ; vote number 2007-174 on May 22, 2007

Voted NO on building a fence along the Mexican border.

Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:
  1. systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology; and
  2. physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry
Defines "operational control" as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.

Proponents support voting YES because:

It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of two-layered reinforced fencing, and for the rest of the border provides a virtual fence, via integrated surveillance technology.

Opponents support voting NO because:

Just to build the fence is going to cost us at least $7 billion. Where is the money coming from to pay for it? How much is it going to cost to maintain this 700-mile fence? Who is going to do it? This bill contains no funding.

This bill also ignores real enforcement measures, like hiring more Border Patrol personnel, and instead builds a Berlin Wall on our southern border. So long as employers need workers in this country, and while our immigration systems impede rather than facilitate timely access of willing workers to those opportunities, undocumented immigration will never be controlled.

Walls, barriers, and military patrols will only force those immigrants to utilize ever more dangerous routes and increase the number of people who die in search of an opportunity to feed and clothe their families.

Reference: Secure Fence Act; Bill H R 6061 ; vote number 2006-446 on Sep 14, 2006

Voted YES on preventing tipping off Mexicans about Minuteman Project.

Voting YES on this amendment supports the Minuteman Project, a group of volunteers who have taken on surveillance of the Mexican border for illegal immigrants. The amendment states that US funds will not be used to tell the Mexican government about the whereabouts of the Minuteman Project volunteers. Proponents of the Minuteman Project say that they are volunteer citizens doing what the federal government SHOULD be doing, but has failed to do. Opponents of the Minuteman Project say that they are vigilantes at best and anti-Mexican racists at worst. The amendment states:
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide a foreign government information relating to the activities of an organized volunteer civilian action group, operating in the State of California, Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona, unless required by international treaty.
Reference: Department of Homeland Security appropriations; Bill HR 5441 Amendment 968 ; vote number 2006-224 on Jun 6, 2006

Voted NO on reporting illegal aliens who receive hospital treatment.

Vote to pass the bill that would require hospitals to gather and report information on possible illegal aliens before hospitals can be reimbursed for treating them. The bill would also make employers liable for the reimbursements if an undocumented employee seeks medical attention, unless the employer meets particular conditions for exemption. The bill would specify that hospitals aren't required to provide care to undocumented aliens if they can be transported to their home country without a significant chance of worsening their condition.
Reference: Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments; Bill HR 3722 ; vote number 2004-182 on May 20, 2004

Voted NO on more immigrant visas for skilled workers.

Vote to pass a bill to increase the number of temporary visas granted to highly skilled workers from 65,000 to 115,000 by the year 2000.
Reference: Bill introduced by Smith, R-TX.; Bill HR 3736 ; vote number 1998-460 on Sep 24, 1998

Rated 0% by FAIR, indicating a voting record loosening immigration.

Sanders scores 0% by FAIR on immigration issues

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, non-profit, public interest membership organization of concerned citizens united by their belief in the need for immigration reform. Founded in 1979, FAIR believes that the U.S. can and must have an immigration policy that is non-discriminatory and designed to serve the environmental, economic, and social needs of our country.

FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interestómore traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.

With more than 70,000 members nationwide, FAIR is a non-partisan group whose membership runs the gamut from liberal to conservative.

The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: FAIR website 03n-FAIR on Dec 31, 2003

Rated 8% by USBC, indicating an open-border stance.

Sanders scores 8% by USBC on immigration issues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 USBC scores as follows:

About USBC (from their website, www.usbc.org):

U.S. Border Control, founded in 1988, is a non-profit, tax-exempt, citizen's lobby. USBC is dedicated to ending illegal immigration by securing our nation's borders and reforming our immigration policies. USBC [works with] Congressmen to stop amnesty; seal our borders against terrorism and illegal immigration; and, preserve our nation's language, culture and American way of life for future generations.

Our organization accepts no financial support from any branch of government. All our support comes from concerned citizens who appreciate the work we are doing to seal our borders against drugs, disease, illegal migration and terrorism and wish to preserve our nation's language, culture and heritage for the next generations.

Source: USBC website 06n-USBC on Dec 31, 2006

Provide lawyers and evidence for children being deported.

Sanders co-sponsored S.2540/H.R.4646

This bill authorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) to appoint or provide counsel at government expense to aliens in removal proceedings.

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shall provide an alien in removal proceedings with all relevant documents in its possession, unless the alien has knowingly waived the right to such documents.
  • DOJ may appoint or provide counsel to aliens in any INA proceeding.
  • DHS shall ensure that aliens have access to counsel inside all immigration detention and border facilities.
  • DOJ shall appoint counsel, at government expense if necessary, for an unaccompanied alien child or a particularly vulnerable individual.
  • DHS shall establish a pilot program to increase the court appearance rates of unaccompanied alien children and particularly vulnerable individuals by contracting with nongovernmental, community-based organizations to provide such aliens with case management services.
    Source: Fair Day in Court for Kids Act 16-S2540 on Feb 11, 2016

    Opposes more border security, according to CC survey.

    Sanders opposes the CC survey question on border security

    The Christian Coalition Voter Guide inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Increase Border Security Including Additional Infrastructures ' Christian Coalition's self-description: "Christian Voter Guide is a clearing-house for traditional, pro-family voter guides. We do not create voter guides, nor do we interview or endorse candidates."

    Source: Christian Coalition Surve 18CC-12 on Jul 1, 2018

    Other candidates on Immigration: Bernie Sanders on other issues:
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    Page last updated: Feb 24, 2020