Immigration is the international movement of people into a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle or reside there, especially as permanent residents or naturalized citizens, or to take up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker.

2016 DNC Platform

2018 CA Dem Platform

Democrats believe immigration is not just a problem to be solved, it is a defining aspect of the American character and our shared history.

The Democratic Party supports legal immigration, within reasonable limits, that meets the needs of families, communities, and the economy as well as maintains the United States’ role as a beacon of hope for people seeking safety, freedom, and security. People should come to the United States with visas and not through smugglers. Yet, we recognize that the current immigration system is broken.

More than 11 million people are living in the shadows, without proper documentation. The immigration bureaucracy is full of backlogs that result in U.S. citizens waiting for decades to be reunited with family members, and green card holders waiting for years to be reunited with their spouses and minor children. The current quota system discriminates against certain immigrants, including immigrants of color, and needs to be reformed to the realities of the 21st century. And there are real questions about our detention and deportation policies that must be addressed.

Democrats believe we need to urgently fix our broken immigration system—which tears families apart and keeps workers in the shadows—and create a path to citizenship for law-abiding families who are here, making a better life for their families and contributing to their communities and our country. We should repeal the 3-year, 10-year and permanent bars, which often force persons in mixed status families into the heartbreaking dilemma of either pursuing a green card by leaving the country and their loved ones behind, or remaining in the shadows. We will work with Congress to end the forced and prolonged expulsion from the country that these immigrants endure when trying to adjust their status.

We must fix family backlogs and defend against those who would exclude or eliminate legal immigration avenues and denigrate immigrants. Those immigrants already living in the United States, who are assets to their communities and contribute so much to our country, should be incorporated completely into our society through legal processes that give meaning to our national motto: E Pluribus Unum.

And while we continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform, we will defend and implement President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans executive actions to help DREAMers, parents of citizens, and lawful permanent residents avoid deportation. We will build on these actions to provide relief for others, such as parents of DREAMers. We will support efforts by states to make DREAMers eligible for driver’s licenses and in-state college tuition. We will invest in culturally-appropriate immigrant integration services, expand access to English language education, and promote naturalization to help the millions of people who are eligible for citizenship take that last step.

We believe immigration enforcement must be humane and consistent with our values. We should prioritize those who pose a threat to the safety of our communities, not hardworking families who are contributing to their communities. We will end raids and roundups of children and families, which unnecessarily sow fear in immigrant communities. We disfavor deportations of immigrants who served in our armed forces, and we want to create a faster path for such veterans to citizenship.

We should ensure due process for those fleeing violence in Central America and work with our regional partners to address the root causes of violence. We must take particular care with children, which is why we should guarantee government-funded counsel for unaccompanied children in immigration courts. We should consider all available means of protecting these individuals from the threats to their lives and safety—including strengthening in-country and third-country processing, expanding the use of humanitarian parole, and granting Temporary Protected Status.

We will promote best practices among local law enforcement, in terms of how they collaborate with federal authorities, to ensure that they maintain and build trust between local law enforcement and the communities they serve. We will also vigorously oversee any programs put in place, to make sure that there are no abuses and no arbitrary deportation programs. We will establish an affirmative process for workers to report labor violations and to request deferred action. We will work to ensure that all Americans—regardless of immigration status—have access to quality health care. That means expanding community health centers, allowing all families to buy into the Affordable Care Act exchanges, supporting states that open up their public health insurance programs to all persons, and finally enacting comprehensive immigration reform. And we will expand opportunities for DREAMers to serve in the military and to then receive expedited pathways to citizenship.

We will fight to end federal, state, and municipal contracts with for-profit private prisons and private detention centers. In order to end family detention, we will ensure humane alternatives for those who pose no public threat. We recognize that there are vulnerable communities within our immigration system who are often seeking refuge from persecution abroad, such as LGBT families, for whom detention can be unacceptably dangerous.

We reject attempts to impose a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the United States. It is un-American and runs counter to the founding principles of this country.

Finally, Democrats will not stand for the divisive and derogatory language of Donald Trump. His offensive comments about immigrants and other communities have no place in our society. This kind of rhetoric must be rejected.

California is the most diverse state in the nation and reflects the foundation of America’s strength, emphasizing the fundamental principles of inclusion and national unity that respect rules of law and human dignity. California Democrats believe that the American immigration system should be inclusive, fair, and just. Immigration must be consistent with American values of freedom, opportunity, compassion, and respect for human rights.

As citizens of a state built upon the successes of immigrants, California Democrats will:

  • Affirm that we can strengthen America’s borders while upholding our values by honoring the tradition of providing a safe place for immigrants seeking a life of freedom and opportunity;
  • Oppose travel and immigration bans that are based solely on ethnicity, race, religion, or national origin;
  • Oppose detention centers that detain or incarcerate based solely on ethnicity, race, religion, or national origin;
  • Ensure that the fundamental rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution are applied to every person within U.S. borders or held in U.S. custody;
  • Fight unconstitutional treatment of undocumented individuals;
    Support efforts to safeguard America’s security while respecting the principles of the American Dream;
  • Oppose construction of an unnecessary border wall between the United States and Mexico;
  • Support comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform that addresses fairness, country of origin, family reunification, and family unity, including giving full faith and credit to families of same sex marriages and same sex couples;
  • Support a path to earned legal residency for undocumented immigrants in our communities;
  • Encourage increased and expedited processing of applications for family reunification and naturalization while supporting reasonable and fair application fees;
  • Support our elected officials in seeking timely information with regard to status of immigration paperwork for constituents, particularly for those constituents who have suffered hardship from backlogs and undue delays;
  • Support efforts to improve the naturalization process and make citizenship more accessible and affordable by increasing transparency on application fees, providing uniform administration of the naturalization exam, implementing accommodations for immigrants with disabilities, and assisting immigrants with citizenship requirements;
  • Support efforts to provide undocumented immigrants with a transitional path to earned legalized residency and citizenship, including methods to pay back taxes, learn English, register with the federal government for work permits, contribute to the U.S. through education, work, military service, or other community service, complete criminal and security background checks, and acquire driver licenses and insurance coverage, Work to ensure all counties have resources necessary to provide assistance to immigrants;
  • Support efforts to provide an expedited path to citizenship for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) individuals and their families;
  • Support efforts to provide assistance in learning English and educational opportunities for cultural immersion;
  • Support efforts that maximize educational opportunities for all immigrant students, including access to public education and financial assistance as an investment for our common future;
  • Affirm efforts to provide equal access to housing for all immigrants and condemn conduct that denies equal housing to all, including a landlord’s inquiry into the citizenship or immigration status of a tenant or a prospective tenant;
  • Support efforts to provide health care and access to insurance for all immigrants to ensure the well-being of our communities;
  • Support efforts to promote available government services to immigrant communities;
    Support outreach efforts that promote civic engagement and participation in the political process among naturalized citizens that reflect the diversity of our communities, such as voter registration and voter education, and support effective legal safeguards and protections for access to voting and voting materials in letters, spirit, and practice;
  • Oppose scapegoating, racial profiling, religious profiling, bigotry, vigilantism, exploitation, and any xenophobic conduct that polarize communities and denounce actions by the government or individuals that keep undocumented immigrants in the shadows of our society;
  • Affirm immigration rights based on human rights and support the goals of the Violence Against Women Act, petitioners for U Visas for victims of crimes, and petitioners for T Visas for victims of human trafficking;
  • Ensure intervention for abuse, discrimination, and crime among or against immigrants and removing the fear of arrest and deportation for reporting such abuse;
  • Encourage cooperation of state and local law enforcement when serving immigrant communities in the interest of public safety for all;
  • Oppose law enforcement agencies that unfairly target, threaten, intimidate, or otherwise harass immigrants because of immigration status; and, oppose local law enforcement agencies acting as federal immigration law enforcement or cooperating with federal law enforcement absent a federal judicial warrant.

Action Opportunities

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Al Otro Lado is a bi-national, direct legal services organization serving indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico.

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