Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at a campaign rally in October. (Photo: Getty Images)

Cheers as Sanders Unveils 'Most Progressive' Immigration Plan

'We cannot forget about the aspiring Americans who continue to live in the shadows.'

Nadia Prupis

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday unveiled an immigration plan to "keep families together" and reform militarization of border communities, an announcement that rights activists heralded as "the most detailed and progressive" blueprint from any U.S. 2016 presidential candidate.

"Millions of families are torn apart by our broken immigration policies," Sanders said Tuesday. "We cannot forget about the aspiring Americans who continue to live in the shadows."

The plan focuses on eight action points, which aim to:

  • Dismantle inhumane deportation programs and private detention centers.
  • Offer humane treatment and asylum to victims of domestic violence and minors fleeing from dangerous circumstances in Latin America.
  • End policies that discriminate against women and ensure that mothers and wives who come into the United States with their families have the same right to work as their partners.
  • Pave the way for a swift legislative path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
  • Close loopholes that allow federal agencies to use racial and ethnic profiling at the border.
  • Ensure our border remains secure and protects local communities.
  • Make it easier for immigrants to access the judicial system.
  • Increase oversight of key Department of Homeland Security agencies to guard against waste, fraud and abuse.

Under this plan, which Sanders said he would implement with or without congressional action if he were elected president, close to 9 million undocumented immigrants would be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Hina Naveed, co-director of the advocacy group Dream Action Coalition, told the Las Vegas Sun Tuesday that the plan would also "end the expensive contracts we have with immigrant detention centers, as well as the highly controversial bed quota that guarantees them business at all of our expense."

"These are large points of difference and will have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of diverse, mixed-status families," Naveed said. "We have seen large numbers of our community thrown behind bars as immigrants have been harshly criminalized, often for something as minor as a traffic ticket in jurisdictions where local police enforce federal immigration law."

The plan also builds on an executive order issued by President Barack Obama in 2014, which aimed to protect 5 million people from deportation.

Earlier this month, immigrant rights activists marked the one-year anniversary of that order by issuing their own action recommendations and calling for urgent reform of current policies.

On Wednesday, advocacy group United We Dream (UWD) praised Sanders' plan for meeting almost all of their five demands, calling it "the most detailed and progressive immigration plan of any candidate thus far."

"It is a testament to the power of the immigrant movement that the Sanders campaign is delivering more than talking points and values statements on how they would work for the liberation of our community," said UWD advocacy coordinator Greisa Martinez. "We hope that in the coming weeks, the Sanders campaign will improve their plan by saying how they would hold ICE agents accountable, in addition to the Border Patrol accountability measures included in the plan now and tell us how he plans on making the plan real."

Sanders issued his proposal ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday to challenge Americans to "reflect on the fact that not all families will be so lucky."

"I will not stand idly by waiting around for a dysfunctional Congress to act," Sanders said. "Instead, during the first 100 days of my administration I will take extensive action to accomplish what Congress has failed to do and to build upon President Obama’s executive orders."

He concluded, "We have an obligation to enact policies that unite families, not tear them apart."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

ACLU Demands 'Truly Systemic Overhaul' of US Civilian Harm Policies

"While a serious Defense Department focus on civilian harm is long overdue and welcome, it's unclear that this directive will be enough," says director of the legal group's National Security Project.

Jessica Corbett ·


'This Is Not Over': Alaska Supreme Court Rejects Youth Climate Case

"With the state continuing to undermine their health, safety, and futures," said the plaintiffs' lead counsel, "we will evaluate our next steps and will continue to fight for climate justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Analysis Finds 'Staggering' Rise in Voter Suppression After GOP Restrictions in Georgia

"This is why we are fighting this new law in court," said one voting rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Egregious': Pennsylvania Court Strikes Down Mail-In Voting Law

The ruling was stayed pending an appeal to the state's Supreme Court and as one voting advocate put it: "The fight's not over yet, folks."

Julia Conley ·


Big Win for Open Internet as Court Upholds California Net Neutrality Law

One legal advocate called the Ninth Circuit's opinion "a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo