Bernie Sanders's newly released immigration platform could be called the anti-Trump plan. The Vermont senator and 2020 hopeful announced plans that seem to be an overhaul of the Trump administration's immigration policies and include decriminalizing the border, breaking up ICE and CBP, and providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for five years.
In the plan called "A Welcoming and Safe America for All," Sanders said he will use executive action if Congress does not enact the "commonsense immigration reforms supported by the vast majority of Americans."
"The whole point is to make immigration easier not harder, so people aren't put in a situation where people have to come here without legal status," Sanders' Latino Press Secretary Belén Sisa said.
If Sanders wins the White House, he plans to issue an immediate moratorium on deportations "until a thorough audit of current and past practices and policies is complete," according to the plan.
The senator said he will expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and a related measure for parents and guardians. DACA still protects about 650,000 individuals brought to the United States as children, and allows DREAMers, as DACA recipients are called, the ability to work legally. The Trump administration has said it considers DACA illegal.
Sisa, a DACA recipient herself, helped draft the policy plan. She said the team doesn't "want [immigration] to be a criminal issue. We want it to be humane issue."
"He's the only candidate that has proposed such a progressive plan for immigration," she said.
While candidates often make policy proposals on the campaign trail, many would actually need more legislative approval to enact, Jessica Bolter, a policy analyst at Migration Policy Institute said.
"Looking at the substance of the plan, it seemed like a missed opportunity to put forward a forward-thinking plan. A lot of this is focused on undoing policies," she continued.
Bolter said the plan Sanders laid out to "break up" ICE and CBP, which Sisa said involve putting those organizations under the Department of Justice, would require more legislation.
"The Department of Homeland Security was created through legislation. It would need new legislation to restructure the agencies in the ways that [Sanders] has proposed," Bolter said.
Elizabeth Warren, who like Sanders has also been holding strong near the top of 2020 Democratic presidential polls, said in her immigration policy plan that she would "reshape" ICE and CBP.
If Sanders does try to use executive action to accomplish his policy proposals, it could open up opportunities for those who disagree to bring lawsuits against the government, Senior Policy Analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center Cristobal Ramón said said.
Sanders's plan to use executive action differs from most 2020 candidates in that it is "more straightforward in terms of how he plans to implement it," Ramón said. "But policy plan through executive action may not survive the onslaught of litigation from conservative organizations," he continued.
"If Sanders were to become President, there's no doubt in my mind that conservative groups, conservative governors, and a whole host of different organizations would try to sue the implementation of these policies," he added.