Bernie Sanders said a border wall is not needed as part of immigration reform. On Saturday during a press conference in Arizona, Sanders showed support for improving immigration policies but not by building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Sanders does favor increasing border patrol and helping illegal immigrants already in the U.S. become legal citizens.
Arizona delegates are up for grabs on Tuesday during that state’s 2016 primary election. Sanders was in Arizona on Saturday campaigning heavily for the 85 winner-take-all delegates at stake during Tuesday’s Arizona primary. Hillary Clinton is currently way ahead of Sanders with a total of 1,614 delegates compared to Sanders’ 856.
Clinton has over 1,000 of those delegates already pledging support for her during the 2016 National Democratic Convention coming up in July. With only 830 pledged delegates, Sanders needs to close the gap on Tuesday to become the Democratic presidential nominee. Arizona has the most Democratic delegates during Tuesday’s primaries, so Sanders took to the podium over the weekend in Arizona to talk about one of the hottest topics in this year’s presidential election.
A large crowd of people gathered around Bernie Sanders as he spoke on Saturday standing at the fence in Nogales, Arizona, that divides the U.S. and Mexico. According to the Military Times, even deported U.S. military vets cheered for Sanders on the Mexico side of the fence. Sanders mainly contrasted his immigration policies to the immigration policies of the leading Republican presidential candidate, American businessman and TV personality Donald Trump, during his speech on Saturday.
Sanders’ policies on immigration basically mirrored the immigration policies of his only Democratic presidential candidate competition, Hillary Clinton, as he spoke at the press conference on Saturday, under his “future to believe in” slogan. The future of immigration reform, according to Sanders, would give rights and protections to immigrant communities but would not include any of the guest worker program reform that was included in the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007.
Introduced by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the 2007 guest worker program that ultimately failed to pass allowed immigrants to temporarily reside in the U.S. under a restructured visa for two years while working low-paid and low-skilled jobs that had a shortage of American workers in the U.S. These jobs typically include agriculture, domestic, and industrial labor.
Even though Harry Reid’s guest worker program also included increased funding to ramp up border patrol along the U.S. and Mexico border, something that Sanders is in support of, Sanders still likened the program to slavery, according to the website On the Issues, saying immigrants are exploited economically and physically under worker programs. Sanders, instead, wants a fair and humane immigration policy with strong border protection and a secure border.
Sanders said having a secure border does not mean building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which happens to be Republican presidential candidate and front-runner Donald Trump’s answer to controlling illegal immigration into the U.S. from Mexico.
Said Sanders, “”We don’t need a wall and we don’t need barbwire,” calling Trump’s stance on illegal immigration a “trumped up” problem and “exaggerated.”
“I would hope that all of us are rightly appalled by the divisive, bigoted and xenophobic comments of people like Donald Trump.”
Sanders even went as far as to say that more people are actually moving from the U.S. to Mexico, rather than from Mexico into the U.S.
Sanders’s solution to controlling illegal immigration in the U.S. includes increasing border patrol along Mexico using modern technological solutions in the form of high-grade security cameras and thermal imaging rather than by building a wall, fixing a broken criminal justice system so that illegal immigrants won’t be treated like criminals, providing citizenship to the millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S., and allowing legal protection to all illegal immigrants.
Hoping to keep immigrant families together in border immigration communities, Sanders does not want to deport illegal immigrants back to Mexico but rather try to fix issues in Mexico that lead to Mexican citizens illegally crossing over into the U.S. to escape poverty and violence in their native country.
As a “nation of immigrants,” according to Sanders, Americans should be proud of their connection to immigrants, saying that his father was a Polish immigrant and worked hard to give his family a better life in the United States.
“Undocumented workers are doing the extremely difficult work of harvesting our crops, building our homes, cooking our meals, and caring for our children. They are part of the fabric of America.”
Saturday’s trip to the U.S.-Mexico border was a first for the Vermont Senator. By showing support for immigration in a largely immigrant state, Bernie Sanders’ message on Saturday to not build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico was ultimately meant to win him some extra votes in Arizona’s upcoming 2016 primary election.
[Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images]