Michael Bloomberg unveils immigration plan

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Michael Bloomberg speaks at the Christian Cultural Center on November 17, 2019, in New York City. Reports indicate Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, is considering entering the crowded Democratic presidential primary race.

WASHINGTON — Michael Bloomberg released his plan Monday to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, promising to overturn several Trump administration policies and reform the visa system by allowing place-based visas that will allow regions of the country to address unmet economic and social needs.

In the plan, Bloomberg calls for ending “plans that run counter to American values,” including the travel ban that was recently expanded, family separations at the border and building a wall along the US border with Mexico.

The former mayor of New York also commits to protecting status for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as well as Temporary Protected Status holders — both programs that have faced cuts and setbacks during the Trump administration. Bloomberg also states his support for a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people living in the country.

Bloomberg’s focus on visas in the proposal differs from what many of the other Democrats are calling for. Bloomberg proposes a place-based visa system that allows different areas and regions of the country to address their unfulfilled economic and social needs.

Bloomberg’s plan would also create a start-up visa for entrepreneurs who generate jobs and allows international students who graduate with advanced degrees in a number of key fields, including STEM, health and business, to apply for green cards. It would also expand opportunities for foreign-born doctors and nurses to aid in the shortage of healthcare workers in rural and under-served communities across the country.

This place-based system ties back to Bloomberg’s overarching campaign theme of focusing on places rather than class when it comes to his policies. Bloomberg’s economy and jobs plan, which he unveiled in different communities across the Midwest last month, outlined the economic divide in the country in regional terms as opposed to the rich versus everyone else terms that many of his Democratic opponents use in their rhetoric.

Bloomberg is running an unorthodox campaign focused on reaching on the 14 Super Tuesday states, which vote March 3, and beyond, and he has largely bypassed the early nominating states while spending heavily from his own fortune.

In his immigration plan, Bloomberg cites his 12 years of experience as mayor of New York City — one of the country’s most diverse cities — to explain his record on immigration and the results he has achieved and hopes to continue in the White House. As mayor, Bloomberg issued several executive orders that helped immigrants in the city, including guaranteeing access to city services and critical medical care, as well as protecting victims of crime regardless of immigration status.

Overall, Bloomberg’s plan is similar to the plans of his Democratic opponents but falls short of calling for an end to deportations like some of the more liberal candidates are proposing. During a speech he made in El Paso, Texas, two weeks ago discussing his Latino policy agenda, Bloomberg said his administration would deport violent criminals.

“I will also put an end to ICE raids of businesses and round-ups of working people that are designed to intimidate and scare Latinos. We will focus deportations on the few violent criminals, not the many upstanding members of communities,” Bloomberg said in El Paso.

Unlike some other Democrats seeking the Oval Office, Bloomberg doesn’t call for an end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rather, Bloomberg’s plan “orders the Department of Justice to investigate abuse at ICE and CBP and reforms the agencies to ensure oversight and accountability.” In addition, Bloomberg lays out a plan that “promotes alternatives to detention for individuals who pose no threat to public safety.”

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