Bernie Sanders is upping pressure on the Obama administration over one of its immigration enforcement initiatives, taking new aim at a controversial program just days before the Democratic presidential contest in Nevada.
In a letter with Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Sanders criticizes the Priority Enforcement Program, which helps federal immigration authorities work with local law enforcement officials to identify immigrants who should be deported from the United States.
The revamped enforcement initiative is a core part of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration unveiled in November 2014, although it has gotten considerably less attention than the actions that grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants here illegally.
But the Priority Enforcement Program — meant to replace the controversial Secure Communities initiative — has attracted its share of criticism from liberals and immigration advocates who argue that it wrongly entangles local policing strategies with immigration enforcement.
“We all share the goals of supporting local law enforcement’s mission to promote community safety,” Sanders and Grijalva wrote in the letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, provided to POLITICO in advance of its release. But “we are concerned that the [Secure
Communities’] failed policies continue unabated through PEP.”
In his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders has taken an aggressively liberal stance on immigration and hired several high-profile Latino activists to serve on his campaign. He has vowed to expand Obama’s proposal to grant work permits, which is now tied up in the courts.
By SEUNG MIN KIM for Politico
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