Immigration in the 2020 Election


The 2020 Presidential campaigns are in full swing. Given the Trump Administration’s repeated implementation of anti-immigrant policies, it’s no surprise that immigration has become an extremely hot topic in the primary debates.

No doubt, it’s a crowded race and a lot of the candidates seem to have some ideas and stances on immigration. As an immigrant and an immigration attorney, all things immigration are near and dear to my heart. However, I just don’t have the time to dig through all the various campaign platforms to figure out what each candidate understands about immigration law, what specifically they would do to change policies, and whether they appreciate how vulnerable the American dream, as we know it, truly is these days.

Enter AILA’s brand new 2020 Election Guide! This Guide will be your go-to resource for each presidential candidate’s positions and proposals on the immigration system. To compile the Guide, AILA surveyed the candidates and received responses back from many of them about their approach to reforming our nation’s immigration system. AILA also explored the platforms, campaign materials, and interviews given by the candidates to figure where they stand. Importantly, the Guide also presents AILA’s positions and recommendations on key immigration issues which can serve as great resources and talking points for immigration advocates and allies.

As you look at the Guide online, you can see each a photo of each presidential candidate both Democrats and Republicans. Those with a bolder frame responded to AILA’s survey and the Guide contains a direct link to their survey responses. As of this writing, 8 candidates have responded to AILA’s survey with more to hopefully follow.

As you may know, over the past year AILA has focused on certain immigration advocacy campaigns and the survey results clearly show that these campaigns are making a difference! Advocacy matters! Specifically, in relation to AILA’s USCIS accountability campaign, after responding to the survey, 5 candidates publicly pledged to bring the agency back in line with its customer service mission. Now a total of 9 candidates are on record demanding USCIS accountability. That’s a huge win for AILA members and our immigrant clients!

Bernie Sanders says:

Bernie will reform USCIS and reverse the posture President Trump’s administration has taken to make it slower, more time consuming, and more difficult for immigrants to navigate this country’s immigration system.”

Pete Buttigieg says the following on the record about the changes at USCIS:

So much of this comes from the tone set at the top. Despite what’s happening right now, USCIS was never meant to be an enforcement agency, and it shouldn’t be. Applicants for immigration benefits in this country pay fees, they study our history and civics, and they traverse a complex immigration system all in order to belong in, and fully contribute to, this country. The least we can do is hold them in the same high regard as they hold our country and promise to treat them fairly and respectfully.

Elizabeth Warren specifically referenced AILA’s analysis that highlighted the severe agency backlog and formed a big part of AILA’s most recent National Day of Action in D.C.:

And this year, after an AILA study revealed significant processing delays at USCIS, I joined my Senate colleagues in writing to USCIS to express concerns about a pattern of nationwide case delays.”

If you’re active on social media, or want to be, you will be thrilled to see the Guide’s social media toolkit. It provides a set of sample questions to use via social media or even at townhalls so you can ask the candidates directly about where they stand on a particular immigration issue.

AILA promises to keep the Guide a living breathing document and it will be updating it throughout the election as new information from candidates still in the running becomes available.

Presidential elections are always a tumultuous time but even more so these days. Having a guide that comprehensively covers where the candidates stand on an issue that I care so deeply about, both because of my chosen profession, and because of my own personal immigrant history, is so tremendously helpful.

I’m delighted to have this fantastic resource at my fingertips and I look forward to using it at the next debate on October 15th. See you on Twitter! Don’t forget to use #AILA2020Guide.

by Fiona McEntee