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2020 Democratic debate: Day 1 immigration policy plans

Photo: Joe Raedle / Staff/Getty Images

Each of the Democratic presidential candidates on stage Wednesday night was asked what they'd do on immigration on Day 1 as president.

Why it matters: The U.S. is currently facing a crisis on its southern border, with President Trump's handling of refugees and children drawing widespread criticism.

Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro: "I would sign an executive order that would get rid of Trump's zero tolerance policy, the 'remain in Mexico' policy and the metering policy ... this metering policy is basically what prompted Oscar and Valeria to make that risky swim across the river ... I would do that executive order that would address metering..."

  • "And then I would follow that up in my first 100 days that would honor immigration reform and address asylum claims that would put undocumented immigrants, as long as they have not committed a serious crime, on a pathway to citizenship to get to the root cause of the issue, which is we need a marshal plan for Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador, so that people can find safety and opportunity at home instead of coming to the United States to seek it."

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.): "I will make sure that number one we end the ICE policies and the Customs and Border policies that are violating the human rights."

  • "When people come to this country, they do not leave their human rights at the border."
  • "Number 2, I will make sure that we reinstate DACA, that we reinstate pathways to citizenship for DACA recipients and to make sure that people that are here on temporary protective status can stay and remain here."
  • "And then finally, we need to make sure that we address the issues that made Oscar and Valeria come in the first place by making investments major investments in the northern triangle, not like this president is doing by ripping away the resources we need to actually solve this problem."

Gov. Jay Inslee (Wash.): "That tragic photo of that parent, that child, and I'm saying this as a father, every American should feel that in our heart, every American should say that is not America. Those are not our values. But we have to get under the skin of why we have this crisis in our system, because we are not being honest about the division that's been fomented in this country. The way that American citizens have been told that immigrants somehow created their misery and their pain and their challenges."

  • "For all the American citizens out there who feel you are falling behind, who feel the American Dream is not working for you, the immigrants didn't do that to you. The big corporations did that to you. The 1% did that to you. We need to be the party of working people and that includes a party of immigrants, but first we have to tell working people in America who are hurting that we will be on their side every time against the big corporation who created this mess to begin with and remind people we are in this together. If we don't change that debate, that politics that's holding us back, we won't get the reforms. That's what we need to do as Democrats."

Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke: "We would not turn back Valeria and her father, Oscar. We would accept them into this country and follow our own asylum laws. We would not build walls. We would not put kids in cages. In fact, we would spare no expense to reunite those separated already and not criminally prosecute. We would make sure."

  • "We would not detain any family fleeing violence, in fact, we would implement a family case management program to be cared for in the community at a fraction of the cost, and then rewrite our immigration laws in our own image. Free Dreamers forever from any fear of deportation by making them U.S. citizens here in this country. Invest in solutions in Central America. Work with regional stakeholders so that there is no reason to make that 2,000-mile journey to this country." 
  • "As a member of Congress, I helped to introduce legislation that would ensure that we don't criminalize those who are seeking asylum and refuge in this country. If you are fleeing desperation, then I want to make sure you are treated with respect."

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