By Amanda Becker Reuters /Washington
Former vice president Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, yesterday called for granting citizenship to ‘Dreamer’ immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children and to invest more in border technology.
Biden’s comments were made in an op-ed for the Miami Herald newspaper ahead of the first Democratic presidential debate in Florida this week.
He said Republican President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border would neither stop drugs from entering the country nor curb illegal immigration.
Trump’s “re-election strategy relies on vilifying immigrants to score political points while implementing policies that ensure asylum seekers and refugees keep arriving at our border,” Biden wrote.
He said most illegal immigration cases were the result of individuals over-staying their visas.
“It’s imperative that we secure our borders, but ‘build the wall’ is a slogan divorced from reality,” Biden said.
He did not offer specifics on citizenship for so-called Dreamers, immigrants who entered the country illegally as minors.
Former president Barack Obama, with whom Biden served as vice president for eight years, used his executive authority to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, programme, that temporarily shielded roughly 800,000 young people from deportation, but did not put them on a pathway to citizenship.
A move by the Trump administration to phase out the DACA program has been appealed to the US Supreme Court, which will announce soon whether it will consider the issue.
Pending bipartisan legislation in the US Congress would protect an estimated 2mn Dreamers from deportation as well as put them on a path to attaining citizenship.
Trump also announced a plan to deport thousands of individuals who have missed a court date or have already been given deportation orders while the US Congress negotiates changes to the asylum process.
He said on Sunday he would delay its implementation for two weeks. “I want to give the Democrats every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes to Asylum and Loopholes. This will fix the Southern Border, together with the help that Mexico is now giving us. Probably won’t happen, but worth a try. Two weeks and big Deportation begins!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
Biden said Trump and his administration’s policies had taken a “wrecking ball to our hemispheric ties,” weakening relationships with neighbours in Latin America and the Caribbean.
While Biden did not release a detailed immigration policy proposal, he wrote that the United States is “a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” signalling he may take a more moderate stance on the issue than some of his more than 20 competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination.
White House contender Julian Castro, a former housing chief in the Obama administration, has called for an end to the criminalisation of illegal border crossings.
Several other candidates, including US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, have proposed dramatically curtailing the work of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Sanders calls for cancelling $1.6tn in student loan debt
US presidential contender Bernie Sanders yesterday proposed a plan to cancel $1.6tn in student loans and pay for it with a tax on Wall Street, elevating the issue in the 2020 debate and going beyond proposals from his Democratic White House rivals.
Sanders, an independent US senator from Vermont, said his plan would wipe out college debt for 45mn Americans and be funded with a tax on stock, bond and derivatives transactions that would raise about $2.2tn over 10 years.
The proposal builds on Sanders’ longstanding call to make public universities and colleges tuition-free, an issue he has highlighted since his first presidential run in 2016.
He said student loan debt was economically crippling young Americans.
“This proposal completely eliminates student debt in this country and ends the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation, the millennial generation, to a lifetime of debt,” Sanders said at the unveiling of his US Senate bill.
“The American people bailed out Wall Street. Now, it is time for Wall Street to come to the aid of the middle class of this country,” he said.
Other liberal Democrats, including presidential rivals Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro, have taken up the call and proposed smaller student-debt cancellation plans.
Warren has proposed cancelling $50,000 in student loan debt for anyone with annual household income under $100,000 and give substantial cancellation to those between $100,000 and $250,000.
She proposed paying for the plan with a tax on wealthy families.
The Sanders proposal comes two days before the first debates involving candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the right to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in November 2020.
Ten candidates each will meet in back-to-back debates tomorrow and Thursday nights in Miami, Florida.
Sanders appeared at a news conference with US Representatives Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal, who joined him in proposing the legislation.
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