An Immigration Lawyer Compares the Immigration Plans of Sanders & Warren

3 mins read

Bernie’s immigration plan is good.

It’s really, really good.

Ultimately, it goes where Warren’s plan doesn’t: by respecting immigration as a labor, climate change, and foreign policy issue – and wresting it away from criminality.

I’ve stayed away from 2020 because I was focused on 2019, here in Virginia. Now that that’s taken care of (and let me be clear: we now have a LOT of work to do in Virginia!), my plan for the next year is to work toward a scaleable model of empowerment of marginalized communities driven by a national, or even international vision. That means the 2020 election has to be a focus.

I’m a practicing immigration lawyer. Both the Sanders and Warren plans would overhaul the practice of immigration law, and in an objectively good way. Getting rid of the 3/10 year bars alone – something both candidates are committing to – would singularly change the advice I give to the majority of my clients. Restructuring – or abolishing – ICE would, too. As would creating Article I immigration courts. There’s a lot to love in both plans.

But in evaluating both plans, I asked myself, “Which plan would allow the advocacy community to hold the next President’s feet to the fire over concrete promises made?”

I also asked myself, “Which plan would empower advocates to do so?”

Sanders’ plan wins.

To be fair, Warren released her plan first, so Sanders had the benefit of a first look. But Sanders’ is more concrete. More significantly,it is abundantly clear that his team consulted not only with immigration advocates, but with labor, environmental, and racial justice advocates. In doing so, it creates avenues of joint advocacy, empowering advocates to band together as we push to get these policies rolled out. Immigration isn’t in a silo: it’s a *tool* to achieve fair labor conditions, respect for our environment, reduce racial disparity at home, and restore our position as a beacon of opportunity for the rest of the world. It’s a vision that drives my own work, and fueled my own run for office earlier this year.

I’ve slogged through white nationalism-infused immigration policy for the last 3 years in my lawsuit against the Univ. of Michigan, and seen how they successfully married immigration to criminality. We’ve all seen the trauma of this bad marriage. The Sanders plan not only divorces immigration from criminality, it marries it to empowerment and equity across the board. The nitty-gritty details, the low-hanging fruit of tweaks to the system are all well known to lawyers and advocates. Either candidate, even if they get only half of them done, would do wonders for our aspiring American communities.

But immigration isn’t just immigration: it is emphatically a labor issue, an environmental issue, a racial justice issue, a foreign policy issue.

Bernie’s immigration plan is really, really good.

Originally posted on Facebook. Re-posted with permission.

Hassan Ahmad serves on the DemCast Board of Directors. An immigration lawyer and advocate fluent or proficient in 8 languages, he founded his practice on his belief in the right to seek prosperity. A former candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, he serves on the Commonwealth Commission for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the Virginia Asian Advisory Board. He has fought for asylum seekers, families, and businesses seeking prosperity for 16 years, and seeks to elevate stories of the aspiring American experience to policymakers at all levels. Hassan lives in northern Virginia with his wife & three children. ​

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