Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
2020 Democrats are being forced to reckon with a broken, complicated immigration system and offer solutions to a crisis that has become emotionally charged and politically risky.
The bottom line: There may be solutions to prevent so many migrant kids from coming into custody in the first place, but the answers we received showed the challenges of dealing with the status quo.
- There is broad agreement for ending child separation, but the government has little capacity for detaining or caring for migrant families together.
- Some want to shut down child migrant camps like Homestead in Florida, but the U.S. is already strained for capacity on existing facilities.
- And others want to work to immediately reunite kids with family in the U.S., but the child migrant crisis also includes unaccompanied kids who might not have family or potential guardians in the country.
The big picture: Axios asked every Democratic presidential campaign what they'd do for migrant children on Day 1 as president. Their answers are paraphrased below.
- Joe Biden: End child separation.
- Bernie Sanders: End child separation, undo all Trump executive orders on immigrants.
- Kamala Harris: End child separation.
- Elizabeth Warren: End child separation, close detention centers like Homestead.
- Pete Buttigieg: Expand an Obama-era program that provided alternatives to detention for migrant families seeking asylum.
- Beto O'Rourke: End child separation, reinstate an Obama-era program that granted Central American minors temporary legal residence in the United States, expand the use of alternatives to detention programs for non-criminal migrants.
- Cory Booker: Reinstate Central American minors program, ending immigrant detention.
- Julian Castro: End zero tolerance policy, end child separation.
- Tulsi Gabbard: Declined to comment.
- Andrew Yang: End child separation.
- Amy Klobuchar: End child separation, reverse attempts to undo Flores Agreement.
- Michael Bennet: End child separation.
- Kirsten Gillibrand: End child separation and reform the asylum process.
- Steve Bullock: End child separation.
- Bill de Blasio: End zero tolerance, put child welfare experts at border patrol stations. reverse attempts to undo Flores Agreement.
- Jay Inslee: End child separation.
- John Hickenlooper: End child separation.
- John Delaney: End child separation.
- Tim Ryan: No specifics.
- Marianne Williamson: End child separation, close detention centers.
- Eric Swalwell: End child separation.
- Mike Gravel: Close the camps housing migrant kids.
- Wayne Messam: End child separation, "allocate executive funding to properly accommodate children and families held into custody."
- Seth Moulton: End family separation.
- Joe Sestak: End family separation, and will "mobilize all resources — money to personnel" to bring them back together.