Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to create a task force to investigate alleged abuses of detained immigrants, “including medical neglect and physical and sexual assaults,” as part of a wide immigration plan her presidential campaign released Thursday.
Warren outlined her proposal in the lead-up to her appearance at a town hall event convened by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest national Latinx civil rights organization in the US.
The task force, which would be set up within the Department of Justice, would have “independent authority to pursue any substantiated criminal allegations” to hold authorities accountable for human rights violations, the plan says, a move no other 2020 candidate has proposed in their immigration plans so far.
Warren would also establish an "Office of New Americans,” which would “draft a national strategy for integration” for new immigrants, providing English, civics, and employment-focused classes — another proposal no other candidate has put forward so far.
The Massachusetts senator is also backing the decriminalization of border crossings, a move former housing secretary Julián Castro first proposed in his immigration plan back in April. Warren told HuffPost a few days before the June primary debate that she supports repealing the law that allows criminal and not just civil prosecution of immigrants for crossing the border. The Trump administration used the law last year to separate families by referring parents for criminal prosecution, meaning they had to be detained in criminal custody, where children cannot be held.
Castro came under fire from Republicans almost immediately when he raised the issue during the first Democratic debates in Miami two weeks ago, challenging other 2020 candidates to take the same stand, and particularly criticizing former representative Beto O’Rourke over his opposition to the move.
Warren’s new plan would also issue guidance to the Department of Justice, including a directive “to end criminal prosecutions for simple administrative immigration violations” and another “prosecutorial guidance to prioritize immigration cases with security concerns.”
Her plan includes several other measures that other candidates have also said they would enact, including strategies to abolish private immigration detention centers, increase aid to Central American countries, raise the cap on the number of refugees admitted to the US each year, and create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country. Warren says she would use executive orders to extend and expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to include more young undocumented people and protect their families, while pushing for “a far-reaching legislative fix that provides a fair but achievable path to citizenship for them.”
In addition to raising the ceiling on refugee admissions, Warren wants to expand legal immigration overall by means of “expanding family reunification” and making it easier for relatives of citizens and of green card holders to move to the US — a proposal that’s directly in contrast with the Trump administration's threats to roll back family-sponsored immigration.
At the same time, according to Warren’s plan, she wants “real accountability on employers who break the rules, exploit workers, or don’t adhere to basic labor standards” and an immigration system that uses “the best available information to identify true needs in the labor force.”