Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination with a primary focus on climate change, is pledging to raise the ceiling for annual refugee admissions in the United States.
As part of his “America’s Promise” immigration plan unveiled on Friday morning, Inslee is proposing that his administration would meet and eventually exceed a target of 110,000 refugee resettlements set during the final year of President Obama’s administration. Last year, the Trump administration announced a plan for the following year to cap the number at a historic low of 30,000.
“President Trump has totally, and intentionally, abandoned America’s values and historical role as a place where refugees and asylum seekers can resettle and contribute to our economy and national life,” Inslee’s plan reads.
He also intends to end the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which has made asylum seekers from Central America await adjudication of their cases in Mexico as opposed to the United States. Additionally, Inslee proposes “a regional refugee resettlement initiative” that would combine efforts of national governments, non-governmental organizations, and international partners to manage needs of applicants from the Northern Triangle region of Central America.
The presidential candidates who have released immigration plans have all focused on increasing refugee admissions, fueled in part by the backlash to the Trump administration’s family separation policy. Julián Castro, who released the first and most detailed plan of the field, proposing increasing refugee admissions and repealing Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which applies criminal and not civil violations to those apprehended when entering the United States, among many other things. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), the other presidential candidate from Texas, recently proposed establishing a new visa category that would allow for communities and religious congregations to sponsor refugees, among other tenets in his plan.
Inslee also proposes immediate action in the first 100 days of his administration by ending Trump’s planned wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, rescinding the Muslim travel ban, ending the use of solitary confinement as a general practice within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities, and setting a mandate to reduce the population of immigrants in detention.
The 17-page proposal also includes a plan for expedited eligibility for a path to citizenship for DREAMers, establishing a new program that would expedite returns to the United States for deported military veterans and parents of children separated by Trump administration policy, extending federal financial aid programs to DREAMers, and addressing climate change as a means of assisting governments in the Northern Triangle.