Presidential Campaign 2016: Know Where the Candidates Stand on Immigration – Martin O’Malley


Contributed by Morgan Brockman – Southwestern High School Class of 2017

As the campaign to elect the next President of the United States heats up, we at Immigration in Plain English thought it apropos to showcase just where each candidate stands on immigration. By now most candidates have established their platform, with most candidates placing immigration as one of the foremost issues to address. And for good reason. It has been almost 20 years since the issue has been meaningfully addressed. In that time, much has changed. 9/11 and terrorism. The internet and technology. And the list goes on. For that reason, we bring you “Know Where the Candidates Stand on Immigration.” Ahead of the next debates, read where each candidate would take our country should she or he be elected to the oval office.

The Democrats: Martin O’Malley

Maryland-Gov_-Martin-OMalley

  • Provide Deferred Action to the Greatest Possible Number of New Americans.

    To start, O’Malley would direct the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide immediate relief from deportation, with work authorization, to all individuals covered by the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal. This includes the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as all individuals who have strong family and community ties – such as parents of DACA recipients or of young foreign-born children, individuals who have long-term residence in our country, and all young people who entered the United States before the age of 21. The goal is to get as many immigrants who are productive, contributing members of society onto the books and more fully included in our economy.

  • Grant Broad Waivers to the Three- or Ten-Year Bar.

    While waivers are available to the three- and ten-year bar, very few people are eligible for them. Today, applicants qualify for a waiver only if their bar creates “extreme hardship” to their U.S. citizen parent or spouse. Hardship to the immigrants themselves – or to their children, even if they are U.S. citizens – is not a factor in this decision. O’Malley would immediately issue guidance broadly interpreting “extreme hardship” to greatly limit the three- and ten-year bars, while working with Congress to achieve a permanent repeal.

  • Expand Parole-in-Place.

    Parole allows immigrants who have resided in the United States unlawfully to have a U.S. citizen of lawful permanent resident sponsor them for a green card without triggering the three- and ten-year bars. DHS already has the authority to parole individuals for humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Indeed, DHS already implemented parole-in-place for the families of members of the U.S. Armed Forces. O’Malley would issue guidance expanding parole-in-place to benefit all spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

  • Conduct Sustained Naturalization Outreach.

    O’Malley will undertake significant outreach and educational programs to promote naturalization, including U.S. agency, media, and community outreach. This will include directing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to identify and encourage lawful permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship to naturalize, while also expanding access to naturalization by lowering fees as appropriate.

  • Rescind the Regulations Restricting Health Care for DACA and DAPA-Recipients.

    The Affordable Care Act provides access to the health care exchanges, tax credit subsidies, and other benefits to individuals who are lawfully present in the United States. However, a 2012 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulation excluded individuals with deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from these affordable health insurance options. O’Malley will rescind this regulation, providing health care access to the approximately five million individuals who are or will be eligible for deferred action under DACA, the proposed DACA expansion, and forthcoming Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

  • Limit Detention to Only Those Who Pose a Clear Threat to Public Safety.

    The only individuals who should be detained are those who pose a clear threat to public safety or national security. O’Malley will direct DHS to use alternatives to detention for the vast majority of people. He will end the practice of holding children and families in detention centers. He will also end the detention of other vulnerable immigrants, especially LGBTQ individuals. This includes using the family placement and community-based supervision policies he successfully implemented in Maryland.

  • End the 34,000 Bed Quota.

    Congress requires DHS to maintain 34,000 beds in immigrant detention centers. The agency has historically interpreted this quota as setting a minimum number of beds, and entered contracts with detention centers that require the beds to be filled. Detention numbers should reflect of our actual public safety and national security needs, not an arbitrary target. O’Malley will issue guidance that DHS treat the bed mandate as a ceiling, not a floor – while working with Congress to establish funding levels for detention that reflect our public safety priorities.

  • Close Inhumane Detention Facilities.

    O’Malley will close or upgrade costly, inhumane, and violent detention centers. This includes the short-term facilities on the U.S.-Mexico border that often do not meet established detention standards. O’Malley will ensure the humane treatment of all detained individuals, increase oversight and monitoring, and bring criminal charges against bad actors. He will also work with Congress to codify higher detention standards and give immigrants a private right of action to enforce these accountability mechanisms.

  • Expand Due Process Protections in the Detention and Immigration System.

    Our current system lacks due process protections in the judicial and detention context. O’Malley will implement critical reforms, including providing counsel for immigrants in deportation proceedings, increasing the number of immigration judges and courts, ending telephonic and video hearings for detainees, ensuring language access, and holding detention facilities and DHS personnel accountable for constitutional rights violations.

  • Prevent Racial and Religious Profiling.

    Current S. Department of Justice (DOJ) guidelines include loopholes that permit DHS agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration and the CBP, to profile Americans based on their ethnicity and religion. O’Malley would work with DOJ and DHS to close these unfair loopholes and uphold our constitutional rights.

  • Limit the Use of Detainers and Notifications.

    DHS cannot continue to expect local law enforcement agencies to bear the costs, risks, and liability of holding immigrants based on incomplete investigations and inadequate evidence. O’Malley will direct immigration enforcement agents to obtain warrants from a judge, like any other law enforcement agency, in order to detain immigrants. O’Malley will also direct immigration enforcement agents to stop the routine issuance of U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) notification requests under the new Priority Enforcement Program, which may lead to unlawful detentions and transfers.

  • End 287(g) Agreements.

    Immigrant and civil rights advocates have rung the alarm for years about the 287(g) program, which also undermines community policing, incentivizes racial profiling, and has been at the heart of some of the worst abuses of immigrants’ civil rights. O’Malley will end the 287(g) jail programs, which are not mandatory and are an outdated and inappropriate way to enforce immigration laws.

  • Respect the Autonomy of States and Localities in Immigration Enforcement.

    Many states and localities have set policies that limit their cooperation with immigration authorities. The intention of these policies is to protect residents’ rights and build trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities. Many sheriffs and law enforcement officers strongly support these policies because they allow local enforcement to more effectively promote public safety. O’Malley will strongly oppose Congressional efforts that disrespect the autonomy of states and localities by coercing them – through the withholding of federal funding or other mechanisms – to rescind these policies.

  • End the Coercion of Local Law Enforcement through Civil Immigration Warrants.

    Law enforcement officers across the country refer to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to find out if a person in their custody has outstanding warrants. However, in recent years, ICE has entered civil immigration warrants into NCIC, confusing local police and producing unlawful arrests. O’Malley will provide clear direction, guidance, and training to local and state law enforcement agencies that they do not have the authority to arrest immigrants on civil administrative warrants.

  • Promote Smart, 21st-Century Border Security.

    Existing border security efforts can be wasteful and disruptive to border communities, while failing to address the fluid factors that drive migration. O’Malley will commit the resources needed to modernize and strengthen the border while respecting the rights of border communities. O’Malley will ensure that our border is secure through the strategic use of personnel and technology, extensive training and support for immigration officers, and policies that address the root causes of migration.

  • Ensure That CBP Officers Can Serve with Pride.

    Politicized congressional mandates have required Customs and Border Protection to hire and deploy hundreds of agents rapidly, sometimes without sufficient training, oversight, and accountability. O’Malley will direct CBP to focus on improving the professionalism, legal knowledge, and integrity of its growing force. He will require CBP to implement the best practices in law enforcement, including equipping officers with body cameras, tracking and disclosing discourtesy and brutality complaints, providing robust training, and holding agents accountable for excessive force.

  • Refocus Border Enforcement on Securing the Actual Border.

    In terms of the area policed, the U.S. border is now 100 miles inland from any land border or coast. Roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population lives within this 100-mile zone. As a result, border agents regularly patrol areas far removed from the actual border, including neighborhoods and urban municipalities. O’Malley will protect the civil rights of residents who live near the border by directing border patrol agents to focus on border security, not interior law enforcement.

  • Focus on the Most Important Cases.

    Under Operation Streamline, federal attorneys criminally prosecute virtually all undocumented immigrants that enter through the Southern border for illegal entry and reentry. Thousands of immigrants who try to enter or re-enter the United States are the parents of U.S. citizens who are attempting to reunite with their children and loved ones. O’Malley will direct federal prosecutors to focus on priority cases that advance national security, address violent crime or financial fraud, and protect the most vulnerable members of society.

  • Enact and Implement Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

    Governor O’Malley will never delay nor stop fighting for comprehensive immigration reform. From the first days of his Administration, he will work with Congress to modernize our immigration system and secure a path to full and equal citizenship for New Americans. O’Malley believes that this is an economic, moral, and national security imperative – one that is enshrined in our founding principles as a nation.

  • Create an Independent Agency to Set U.S. Immigration Policy.

    Comprehensive immigration reform should build a new, nimble, and responsive immigration system—one that will prevent our country from ever needing to fight for comprehensive reform again. O’Malley will call for a reform bill to create a new, independent body housed within the executive branch. The agency will make recommendations to Congress regarding immigration levels and visa requirements. The recommendations would be based on rigorous and non-partisan analysis and market needs – supplying additional H-1B visas, creating new visas to attract and retain foreign innovators, establishing protections for workers, and complimenting and upholding the American workforce.

  • Address Employment Barriers for Foreign Professionals.

    Roughly one out of five highly skilled immigrants in the United States is unemployed or underemployed, unable to fully contribute their entrepreneurial efforts to America’s success. O’Malley would work with states, Congress, and federal agency partners to address barriers for high-skilled immigrant workers, such as credentialing and licensing requirements and policies; and to better provide language and technical training through the nation’s workforce system.

  • Promote Family Unity.

    Our immigration system has historically sought to preserve family unity, recognizing that strong families are the foundation of a strong economy. Yet long visa backlogs have kept families apart for many years, and because of a lack of procedural safeguards and due process, thousands of U.S. citizens and their family members have been unlawfully deported. O’Malley will work with Congress so that the supply of visas better meets demand. He will also reform outdated immigration bars so that previously deported individuals with U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relatives could lawfully return to the United States.

  • Restore Judicial Discretion.

    In recent years our nation rescinded the ability of immigration law enforcement and judges to consider the individual circumstances of a person’s case. O’Malley will ensure that any future immigration legislation contains robust waiver provisions that restore the discretion of law enforcement and judges to consider individual factors—such as family and community ties; the nature, seriousness, and other circumstances of past criminal charges; passage of time; medical conditions; and contributions to community and family.

  • Protect the Diversity Visa.

    The diversity visa lottery was created to diversify the immigrant population in the United States. Today, about half of diversity visa lottery winners come from Africa. O’Malley would work to ensure that future immigration reform efforts do not gut this critical program.

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