Kamala Harris on Immigration

Democratic candidate for President (withdrawn); California Senator


Hold companies liable for hiring non-citizens, not workers

Q: How to stop companies hiring illegal aliens?

HARRIS: Of course, the employers have to be responsible. They have to do whatever is required by law. But there's another point here, which is that this administration has directed DHS to conduct these raids as part of what I believe is this administration's campaign of terror, which is to make whole, whole populations of people afraid to go to work. Children are afraid to go to school for fear that when they come home, their parents won't be there.

Source: Meet the Press interview for Democratic 2020 Veepstakes , Aug 11, 2019

Kids whose parents crossed border are treated like criminals

Q: It is currently a criminal offense punishable by jail to cross the U.S. border illegally. Should we decriminalize the border?

BENNET: I disagree that we should decriminalize our border.

HARRIS: I went to a place in Florida called Homestead, and there is a private detention facility that currently houses 2,700 children. There were members of Congress there, [including Julian Castro, but] they would not let us enter the place. So I walked down the road, I climbed a ladder, and I looked over the fence. And I'm going to tell you what I saw. I saw children lined up single file based on gender being walked into barracks. The policies of this administration have been facilitated by laws on the books that allow them to be incarcerated as though they've committed crimes. These children have not committed crimes and should be not treated like criminals.

BENNET: There's not a single person on this stage who would ever separate a child from their parents at the border.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

I disagreed with Obama on Secure Communities deportations

Q: If someone is here without documents, and that is their only offense, is that person to be deported?

Rep. Eric SWALWELL: No. That person can contribute.

V.P. Joe BIDEN: If they committed a major crime, they should be deported. But we should not be locking people up. We should be making sure we change the circumstance, why they would leave in the first place. Those who come seeking asylum, we should immediately have the capacity to absorb them, keep them safe until they can be heard.

Sen. Kamala HARRIS: No, they should not be deported. This was one of the very few issues with which I disagreed with the [Obama] administration. On the secure communities issue, I disagreed with my president, because the policy was to allow deportation of people who by ICE's own definition were non-criminals. I issued a directive to the sheriffs of my state that they did not have to comply with detainers, and instead should make decisions based on the best interests of public safety of their community.

Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Immediately reinstate DACA protection, including parents

Immediately on January 20, 2021, I will reinstate DACA protection to those young people. I will further extend protection for deferral of deportation for their parents and for veterans, who we have so many who are undocumented and have served our country and fought for our democracy. I will also immediately put in place a meaningful process for reviewing the cases for asylum. I will release children from cages. I will get rid of the private detention centers.
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Due process & right to counsel, for asylum seekers

My first bill in the United States Senate was Access to Counsel Act to ensure that nobody would be denied access to counsel when they're going through these hearings around refugee status and around asylum. I disagree with any policy that would turn America's back on people who are fleeing harm. I would not enforce a law that would reject people and turn them away without giving them a fair and due process to determine if we should give them asylum and refuge.
Source: NPR Morning Edition: Election 2020 Special Series , Mar 14, 2019

2008: Supported SF policy reported arrested juveniles to ICE

Sen. Kamala Harris mischaracterized a 2008 policy she supported for a citywide policy enacted by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom of reporting juvenile undocumented immigrants arrested by local police to ICE. The decision revoked a previous policy of non-reporting. Harris called the reporting of arrested juvenile undocumented immigrants before they were convicted of a felony an "unintended consequence" of the policy that she did not support. However, this was in fact the intent of the policy.

A Harris spokesman did not address the senator's mischaracterizations when contacted by CNN's KFile. "As Governor Newsom has said, the initial policy was intended to protect the sanctuary status of San Francisco, which Senator Harris has always supported and defended," Harris spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement. "We have said this policy should have been done differently."

Source: CNN KFile, "Juveniles," on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 27, 2019

Reform system, against "vanity project" of border wall

Harris spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement, "As Senator, Harris is focused on protecting Dreamers, fighting this president's attempts to build a vanity project on the southern border, exercising more oversight of ICE, reforming our immigration system with a path to citizenship. and reuniting families separated by this administration. Those will be her priorities should she be elected president."
Source: CNN KFile, "Juveniles," on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 27, 2019

Welcome refugees and immigrants, instead of a border wall

The State of the Union has always been a chance for our President to rise above politics and unite the country with a vision that includes ALL Americans.

We need our leaders to speak the biggest truth of all: In the face of powerful forces that have been trying to sow hate and division among us, the truth is that as Americans we have much more in common than what separates us.

Let's fight for an America where we welcome refugees and immigrants, and where we fight for the dignity of all people-- no matter who they are, no matter what they look like or how they identify.

I want you all to listen closely [to Trump's State of the Union]. When you hear claims that our problems would all be solved if we just built a wall on our southern border, don't forget the babies ripped from their mothers' arms and the refugees fleeing violence who are being turned away.

The strength of our union has never been found in the walls we build. It's in our diversity and our unity--and that is our power.

Source: Democratic prebuttal to the 2019 State of the Union speech , Feb 5, 2019

Re-examine ICE & start from scratch

Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Jan 21, 2019

$3M to get lawyers for children from Northern Triangle

In the summer of 2014, an unprecedented surge of tens of thousands of children and adolescents fled the violence of the Northern Triangle through human smuggling networks that brought them to the United States.

In Murrieta, California, several buses carrying roughly 140 undocumented children and parents were on their way to a processing center. A crowd had gathered, blocking the street, waving flags & signs & yelling "Nobody wants you!" "You're not welcome!" "Turn around and go back home!" There were children inside the buses. Their only wrong was that they had fled horrific violence.

I had to do something about this. I sponsored legislation to provide $3 million to other nonprofits that were providing these children with legal representation.

Source: The Truths We Hold, by Kamala Harris, p.168-70 , Jan 8, 2019

Zero tolerance is inhumane: end child separation

On April 6,2018, Attorney General Sessions announced a zero-tolerance policy at the border, meaning that the administration would refer for criminal prosecution any adult crossing the border illegally, regardless of the reason, and that this could include separating children from their parents.

There are a few things more cruel, more inhumane, more fundamentally evil than ripping a child from her parent's arms. The administration claimed that it wouldn't separate families seeking asylum if they arrived at an official port of entry, as opposed to other parts of the border. But that didn't hold true. Many documented cases of family separation at ports of entry.

Source: The Truths We Hold, by Kamala Harris, p.170-2 , Jan 8, 2019

Border wall sends the message "KEEP OUT"

A wall on the border with Mexico was a total waste of taxpayer money. I am a strong believer in border security--but experts agree that a wall will not secure our border.

But there was a bigger reason to oppose the border wall. A useless wall on the southern border would be nothing more than a symbol, a monument standing in opposition to not just everything I value, but to the fundamental values upon which this country was built. The Statue of Liberty is the monument that defines to the world who we are. Emma Lazarus's words--"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"--speak true to our true character: a generous country that respects and embraces those who have made the difficult journey to our shores, often fleeing harm. How could I vote to build what would be little more than a monument, designed to send the cold, hard message "KEEP OUT"?

Source: The Truths We Hold, by Kamala Harris, p.164-5 , Jan 8, 2019

No border wall in any comprehensive bill

Harris voted against a Senate immigration bill backed by centrists from both parties earlier this month. She argued that while the bill would provide a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants who entered the country illegally, it was a step too far because of the inclusion of money for President Trump's wall on the Mexican border, and that she could not support it in good conscience.

"While this bill would put Dreamers on a pathway toward citizenship, the appropriation of $25 billion for a border wall is a waste of taxpayer money," she said. "A wall will not secure our border and I remain concerned those billions of dollars may also be used to implement this Administration's anti-immigrant agenda--one that targets California and its residents."

Those close to Harris maintain that Harris has felt passionately for years about [immigration issues]. In particular, they say protecting dreamers has been her top priority since she was elected to the Senate.

Source: Amie Parnes in The Hill on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Feb 26, 2018

An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal

California's chief law officer, Attorney General Kamala Harris, declared this week, "an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal." Illegally entering and remaining in the country is a federal crime. However, many of these "undocumented immigrants" are not being prosecuted under the current administration.

Harris is implying in her words that these foreign nationals are not persistent criminals: "I'm a career prosecutor. I've personally prosecuted everything from low-level offenses to homicides. Unfortunately, I know what crime looks like. I know what a criminal looks like who's committing a crime. An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal."

Source: Breitbart.com coverage of 2015 California Senate race , Apr 18, 2015

Rejected Secure Communities program against undocumented

Harris recently announced that local and state police agencies are no longer obligated to follow the federal program known as Secure Communities. Secure Communities forces local police to double as federal authorities when they come into contact with undocumented immigrants, requiring them to collect fingerprints and then hold immigrants until federal agents can pick them up. The program is only supposed to net serious criminals--but in reality casts a much wider net.
Source: AmericasVoice.org blog on 2019 Democratic Primary , Dec 11, 2012

Provide lawyers and evidence for children being deported.

Harris co-sponsored S.2540/H.R.4646

This bill authorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) to appoint or provide counsel at government expense to aliens in removal proceedings.

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shall provide an alien in removal proceedings with all relevant documents in its possession, unless the alien has knowingly waived the right to such documents.
  • DOJ may appoint or provide counsel to aliens in any INA proceeding.
  • DHS shall ensure that aliens have access to counsel inside all immigration detention and border facilities.
  • DOJ shall appoint counsel, at government expense if necessary, for an unaccompanied alien child or a particularly vulnerable individual.
  • DHS shall establish a pilot program to increase the court appearance rates of unaccompanied alien children and particularly vulnerable individuals by contracting with nongovernmental, community-based organizations to provide such aliens with case management services.
    Source: Fair Day in Court for Kids Act 16-S2540 on Feb 11, 2016

    Terminate national emergency at the Southern border.

    Harris voted YEA Joint Resolution on Proclamation 9844

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 is hereby terminated.

    Proclamation 9844 issued by the president on Feb. 15, 2019: Declares a state of national emergency at the southern border to address the issues of illegal immigration and criminal trafficking into the US: "The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch's exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years. Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis."

    Opposing the Proclamation (supporting the Resolution), ACLU press release, 2/15/2019 The ACLU issued the following statement upon filing a lawsuit: "By the president's very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall 'faster.' This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy."

    Legislative outcome Passed House 245-182-5 roll #94 on Feb. 26; pass Senate 59-41 roll #49 on March 14; Vetoed by Pres. Trump; veto override failed, 248-181-3 (2/3 required), roll #127 on March 26

    Source: Congressional vote 19-HJR46 on Feb 26, 2019

    Increase both high-skill and family-based visa caps.

    Harris co-sponsored the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act

    Legislative Summary:This bill increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available that year to 15%, and eliminates the 7% cap for employment-based immigrant visas. It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China. The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY2020-FY2022, by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas. Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85% shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

    Explanation from the Countable.US: Under the current immigration system, immigrants from any one country can claim no more than 7% of the 140,000 employment-based green cards issued annually to foreign nationals working in the U.S. This significantly disadvantages immigrants from larger countries that more immigrants come from.

    For example, China (population 1.3 billion) and India have large backlogs of workers wishing to immigrate to and work in the U.S., but they have the name visa caps as countries such as Iceland or Estonia (population 1.3 million), which have both much smaller populations and far fewer citizens seeking to immigrate to the U.S.

    The net effect of this is that immigrants from India and China can face decades-long waits, averaging 2-3 times the wait times for immigrants from other countries, for green cards, and many have to return home because they can't get permanent residency; meanwhile, countries such as Iceland and Estonia never come close to reaching their visa limit caps.

    Legislative outcome Roll call 437 in House on 7/10/2019 passed 365-65-2; referred to Committee in Senate 7/9/2019; no action as of 1/1/2020.

    Source: S.386/H.R.1044 19-HR1044 on Feb 7, 2019

    Other candidates on Immigration: Kamala Harris on other issues:
    2020 Presidential Candidates:
    Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
    V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
    V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
    Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
    CEO Don Blankenship (Constitution-WV)
    CEO Rocky De La Fuente (R-CA)
    Howie Hawkins (Green-NY)
    Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian-IL)
    Gloria La Riva (Socialist-CA)
    Kanye West (Birthday-CA)

    2020 GOP and Independent primary candidates:
    Rep.Justin Amash (Libertarian-MI)
    Gov.Lincoln Chafee (Libertarian-RI)
    Gov.Larry Hogan (R-MD)
    Zoltan Istvan (Libertarian-CA)
    Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
    Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
    Ian Schlackman (Green-MD)
    CEO Howard Schultz (Independent-WA)
    Gov.Jesse Ventura (Green-MN)
    V.C.Arvin Vohra (Libertarian-MD)
    Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
    Gov.Bill Weld (Libertarian-NY,R-MA)

    2020 Democratic Veepstakes Candidates:
    State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
    Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D-GA)
    Rep.Val Demings (D-FL)
    Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
    Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
    Sen.Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
    Gov.Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D-NM)
    Sen.Catherine Masto (D-NV)
    Gov.Gina Raimondo (D-RI)
    Amb.Susan Rice (D-ME)
    Sen.Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
    Gov.Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI)
    A.G.Sally Yates (D-GA)
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    External Links about Kamala Harris:

    2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
    Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
    Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
    Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
    Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
    Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
    Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
    Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
    Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
    Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
    Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
    Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
    Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
    Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
    Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
    Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
    Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
    Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
    Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
    Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
    CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
    Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
    Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
    CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)

    Page last updated: Mar 20, 2021