Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said Friday that she is open to halting deportations of illegal immigrants in order to force Congress to pass “comprehensive immigration reform” -- a day after a leading 2020 rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., made a deportation moratorium part of his immigration plan.
The response from Senator Warren, D-Mass., came after a question at a town hall in North Carolina. A woman, who spoke in Spanish, told Warren about her husband, who she says was arrested for drug possession, served his sentence and was then detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She asked if any moratorium would include those with criminal records.
“So I am open to suspending deportations, particularly as a way to push Congress for comprehensive immigration reform,” Warren responded. “I believe that what we’re doing right now, with ICE focusing on people who do not pose a threat -- that when ICE comes into our communities, takes our neighbors, our friends, our family members -- that they do not make this country safer.”
Warren said she wants ICE to focus on things like fighting terrorism and tackling the import of drugs such as fentanyl. She also said she opposes the Trump administration’s view, which she summarized as "anyone who has violated any law means they can’t even be considered to stay.”
She did not say if that moratorium would include any exceptions for those with convictions for violent or other serious crimes.
Warren’s push for a deportation moratorium comes a day after Sanders issued his own sweeping immigration plan, one that would impose a moratorium on deportations, "break up" existing immigration enforcement agencies, grant full welfare access to illegals and welcome a minimum of 50,000 “climate migrants” in the first year of a Sanders administration.
According to the plan, President Sanders would stop deportations until there was a full audit of "current and past practices and policies." He would also break up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Matters to do with deportation and enforcement would return to the Department of Justice, customs matters to the Treasury and naturalization and citizenship to the State Department.
Warren was asked if she would break up those agencies, but said only that they need to be “reorganized within the system” and reformed.
“ICE and CBP need to be completely reformed. They should not be spending their resources on things that don't pose a threat to the United States, they should not be spending their resources on scooping up neighbors and friends who pose no real threat,” she told reporters. "They need to be spending their resources on container shipping, on contraband that comes into this country, on terrorists. Not on people who are here with their families, and trying to live peacefully and make a living among us.”
Sanders' plan also opens up all welfare and government services to include illegal immigrants, promising that his “Medicare-for-all” and “College-for-all” plans would both be available regardless of immigration status.
Warren, who announced her $52 trillion “Medicare-for-all” plan last week, reiterated that that plan would include illegal immigrants.
“Medicare-for-all, as I've put together, covers everyone regardless of immigration status and that's it,” she said.
In particular, she said it would make a lot more sense once those illegal immigrants are on a "pathway to citizenship" she has as part of her plan to legalize those in the country illegally.
"If you're on a path to citizenship, we just fixed a big part of deportation, right?" she said. "Why wouldn't we want you to have healthcare?"
Fox News’ Tara Prindiville contributed to this report.