Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Thursday released a sweeping immigration plan that would dramatically increase the number of refugee admissions by nearly 800 percent from FY 2018 and 250 percent from the Obama years.
By the end of her first term, Warren said she would increase admissions to 175,000 per year with a ceiling of 125,000 in her first year in the White House. That first figure would be a massive increase (795 percent) over the roughly 22,000 admitted in FY2018 -- a result of President Trump's restrictionist approach that Warren decried on Thursday.
"At a time when 70 million are displaced around the world, President Trump has abused his authority to lower the refugee cap for the United States, admitting just over 22,000 refugees in total last year," she said in her proposal.
The Trump administration has seen record lows in refugee admissions as it enacted bans on entry from a series of countries in the Middle East. Refugees have become a hot button issue as millions attempted to flee the terrorist group ISIS and the southern border was swamped with asylum claims.
Trump has cautioned against allowing massive numbers of refugees to resettle through a vetting process that he and others have argued was inadequate for weeding out major security threats.
In the midst of the refugee crisis, former President Obama's administration welcomed 84,995 refugees in FY2016. That was slightly higher than the annual rate of 70,000 -- about 250 percent lower than Warren's goal of 175,000 -- that his administration said it had welcomed in the preceding years.
He also set a ceiling of 110,000 for FY2017 but Trump reduced that to 50,000 -- slightly higher than the 45,000 limit he set for FY2018. That was the lowest refugee ceiling since 1980, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Warren's plan included a host of other policies that will likely find favor with other Democratic politicians. Among other things, she wants to repeal a law requiring local police to enforce federal immigration laws as well as end "unnecessary" detention.
"We already have the tools to effectively track and monitor individuals without shoving them into cages and camps along the border," she said. "As President, I’ll issue guidance ensuring that detention is only used where it is actually necessary because an individual poses a flight or safety risk."
It's unclear how many migrants Warren's team expected to detain or how they would handle those who crossed the border illegally but weren't deemed a flight or safety risk.
Trump's administration has come under fire from Warren and others for the allegedly inhumane conditions set up for migrants. Warren's plan would also institute a Justice Department task force to investigate allegations like medical neglect and sexual assaults, and have the authority to "pursue any substantiated criminal allegations."
Current and former immigration officials have pushed back on some of the detention depictions while the administration has blamed Democrats for, they say, failing to pass reforms that would fix the detention system.
"Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren administration will hold you accountable," she said.
Legal immigration would also expand under a Warren administration which would also decriminalize illegal border crossings. In lieu of legislation providing a path to citizenship, Warren said she would "take executive action to provide a measure of protection for those who are undocumented."
"I’ll work with Congress to pass broad-reaching reform, but I’m also prepared to move forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act," she said in her proposal.
Her plan came amid news that the administration would follow through on initially-delayed deportation raids across the U.S., targeting 2,000 immigrants who already faced orders for deportation.
Like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Warren indicated the migrant crisis stemmed from a lack of foreign aid for Central and South America. As president, Warren said she would direct $1.5 billion in annual aid for Central America and other nations in the Western Hemisphere.