Clinton’s Immigration Plan

Before every presidential election, the chatter about immigration reform reaches a crescendo. Which side of the aisle a politician sits on is usually a good indication of the types of reforms proposed — whether rapid deportation, or new pathways to citizenship.

While the glittering generalities politicians offer prior to election don’t usually manifest as planned once an official is in office, they do give voters a window into how they might conduct business if given the chance. In the case of Hilary Clinton’s Immigration Plan, one doesn’t have to look further than her website to get a sense of where she stands publically on immigration issues.

In simple terms, Clinton’s Immigration Plan aims to “introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days.”

Hillary Clinton's Immigration Plan

Hillary Clinton’s Immigration Campaign Claims

Here’s a short breakdown of some of Clinton’s claims on the direction she says she’ll go if she wins the election.

She claims she will end the three and 10-year bars: Under current laws and regulations, persons who are unlawfully present in the U.S. can still conceivably obtain lawful permanent status (green card) if they marry either a person who already has a green card or is a U.S. citizen.

However, in order to apply for lawful permanent status, a person living in the country illegally still has to leave the country and apply for a green card abroad. The problem is, once they leave the U.S., they face an automatic bar from returning for three or 10 years. Persons unlawfully residing in the country for less than a year are typically barred from returning for three years. Meanwhile, persons residing unlawfully in the country for more than a year, who leave the country to apply for permanent status abroad, are subject to a bar of 10 years INA §212(a)(9)(B).

Clinton herself has acknowledged that such a dilemma forces immigrants to make a heartbreaking decision to either “remain in the shadows, or pursue a green card by leaving the country and loved ones behind.”

In a televised town hall meeting in Las Vegas in February, Clinton heard from an audience member whose immigrant husband had been barred from reentering the country for a decade. Clinton pledged, under her leadership, this policy would end. “I want to tell you, I will end the three and 10-year bar provision so that you do not have to ever face that again,” Clinton said.

She Will Defend DACA and DAPA: Under President Obama, two policies were announced to provide relief to immigrant families in the U.S. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows undocumented immigrants who came to the country before their 16th birthday to receive a two-year work permit. They are also exempt from deportation.

Meanwhile, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans or (DAPA), is a policy intended to allow illegal immigrants who’ve been in the country since 2010 and have children who are either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, avoid deportation. The second policy was announced by the Obama administration in 2014, and was challenged in court by the state of Texas that same year. Although the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration, it was remanded to a lower court for trial. It’s future remains uncertain.

According to Clinton’s Immigration Plan, she vows to defend both DACA and DAPA. In a recent conference covered by in August, Clinton told a crowd of Hispanic and black journalists that she intends to continue President Obama’s policies on immigration reform.

“I will defend DACA and DAPA while I work vigorously for immigration reform,” Clinton said.

Clinton added during this appearance that she has proposed setting up an office of immigrant affairs in order to provide information and assistance to immigrants and their families.

Is Clinton’s Immigration Plan Feasible?

Whether Clinton’s Immigration Plan delivers on its claims depends on a number of factors, not the least of which includes the direction congress takes this election season.

However, according to Politifact, a website run by the Tampa Bay Times, which seeks to fact check statements made by politicians, Clinton has a well-established record of progressive immigration support.

In 2004, while serving as a senator, Clinton co-sponsored Senator Ted Kennedy’s Safe, Orderly Legal Visas and Enforcement Act. At the time, the American Immigration Lawyers Association applauded the act’s passage calling it a “giant step toward helping this nation achieve the goal of creating an immigration system that reflects our nations’ values, traditions and need.”

In 2003, 2005, and 2007, Clinton also co-sponsored the Dream Act, which gave immigrants brought to the country as children better access to higher education.

While it remains to be seen what she does for immigration reform if elected, it’s a safe bet that Clinton’s Immigration plan will be more welcoming to those seeking a better life in this country than her republican opponent’s plan.