Democratic presidential nominee Pete Buttigieg said he supports a “pathway to citizenship” for the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants living the United States.
“There are over ten million people who are undocumented immigrants in this country who don’t fall into [the DACA] category and the reality is we can’t have comprehensive immigration reform that works unless it addresses the status for those 11 some undocumented immigrants” Buttigieg said Monday night during a CNN town hall forum.
Buttigieg spoke highly of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, but noted that it only protects about 700,000 young illegal immigrants from deportation. The mayor of South Bend, Indiana wants to implement a measure that would give citizenship to the millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S.
“What we need to do is make sure there is a pathway to citizenship for them too,” he said, claiming that there was broad consensus on the issue.
The 37-year-old mayor said comprehensive immigration reform would include: A pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens, a level of protection for dreamers, reforms to clear up the “bureaucracy and backlogs” in the lawful immigration system, and reasonable measures of border security.
“We know what to do. It’s just that we don’t have the leadership in Washington to do it, and I’m afraid one of the reasons is we’ve got a White House that’s actually computed that it’s better off politically if this problem goes unsolved so that Americans can continue to be divided around it,” the mayor continued.
In a follow-up immigration question, Buttigieg would not explicitly say he whether or not he would make South Bend a “sanctuary city.” However, he made clear that his police force was not responsible for helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) apprehend illegal migrants.
“I regard us as a welcoming city,” he said, adding that he didn’t know if that made his town a sanctuary city. “Here’s what we do in South Bend: We make it very clear that our South Bend police department is not responsible for enforcing federal immigration policy.”
The mayor suggested that if local police were to begin helping immigration enforcement, many in the immigrant and Latino community would be afraid to approach them about solving crime.
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