In tone, Republican Donald Trump often highlights violent crimes perpetrated by immigrants in the country illegally, with aggressive rhetoric that emphasizes nationalism. Democrat Hillary Clinton features a softer approach that embraces diversity and the value of keeping immigrant families together, even as her critics accuse her of promoting “open borders.”
It’s not just talk. The White House contenders’ policies would send the country — and the lives of more than 10 million people — down very different paths.
Trump says he would build a massive wall, create a deportation task force to expel millions, and deny legal status to anyone currently in the country illegally. Clinton would offer a pathway to citizenship for most immigrants regardless of how they arrived, continue to defer enforcement action against families, and offer health care options to immigrants here illegally.
Here is a summary of their proposals:
Pathway to Citizenship
CLINTON: She promises to propose immigration legislation in her first 100 days that would include a route to citizenship. Her approach is largely in line with that approved by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate in 2013 turned aside by the House.
TRUMP: He clarified this week that he opposes any pathway to legal status for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. They would have to return to their home countries and apply for legal entry should they wish to return. He has not said what would happen to those who choose to stay, but said they are subject to deportation. Trump has also called for an end to “birthright citizenship,” currently granted to anyone born in the United States.
A Border Wall
TRUMP: A centerpiece of Trump’s immigration plan is a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico. There are already some 650 miles of fencing along the border, including roughly 15-foot tall steel fencing in many urban areas. Trump says he’ll extend a huge wall across the vast majority of the 2,100-mile border, which would be a major construction feat costing billions of dollars. He promises to make Mexico pay for it. He would also add 5,000 border patrol agents and expand the number of border patrol stations.
CLINTON: She says there are places where a physical barrier is appropriate but opposes large-scale expansion of a border wall. She prefers relying on technology and more border patrol agents to ensure the border is secure.
Barack Obama’s Executive Orders
CLINTON: She supports President Obama’s executive actions that deferred immigration enforcement against millions of children and parents in the country illegally. A deadlocked Supreme Court decision in June blocked his order, but Clinton insists that such actions are within the president’s authority.
TRUMP: He said this week he would “immediately terminate” the executive orders, which he said gave amnesty to 5 million immigrants. Indeed, the president’s plan shielded up to 4 million people from possible deportation, all of them immigrants who came to the U.S. as children or are parents of citizens or legal residents.
TRUMP: He promised this week to create a deportation task force that would prioritize the removal of criminals, people who have overstayed their visas and other immediate security threats. The numbers could exceed 5 million. He backed off his earlier pledge to forcibly remove all of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, however, saying only that those who aren’t immediate threats would have to go home and then apply for legal status. Critics have likened that piece of the plan to Mitt Romney’s widely panned call for “self-deportation.”
CLINTON: She would continue Obama’s policy of deporting violent criminals and others who break the law after entering the United States. But she would scale back the current administration’s immigration raids, which she says produce “unnecessary fear and disruption in communities.” Under her plan, the vast majority of people in the country illegally would be allowed to stay and apply for legal status and eventual citizenship.
CLINTON: She would allow all people to buy into the federal health care exchanges, although she has said those in the country illegally wouldn’t qualify for subsidies. Her policy would also allow some to collect Social Security, so long as they pay into the system for at least 10 years.
TRUMP: He would deny immigrants in the country illegally access to any government benefits, including the federal health care exchanges. He said this week that such immigrants should not be allowed to get food stamps, welfare payments or government-backed housing assistance. Those who do, he said, would be priorities for deportation.
TRUMP: Like many Republicans, he vows to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. Trump said this week he would block taxpayer dollars from going to any cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Municipalities like San Francisco, for example, have passed ordinances preventing city officials from even asking about immigration status unless required by law or court order.
CLINTON: She has not directly answered whether she supports sanctuary cities or not, but her campaign said Thursday that “Hillary trusts our local police to make sound decisions about protecting their communities.” That strongly suggests she would not interfere with local ordinances, like San Francisco’s. She has said that such systems allow immigrants to freely report crimes and communicate with local policy without fear of deportation. Her campaign noted Thursday, however, that she believes violent criminal should be deported and a system is needed to ensure that happens.