VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: John Hickenlooper On Reforming Immigration
Immigration and border security have become highly controversial topics since President Donald Trump took office, and former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper has some bold ideas for how to address these issues.
Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, withdrew from the 2020 presidential race last month after receiving low support in the polls. He said he plans instead to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) for a Senate seat.
Hickenlooper began by voicing his disgust with the separation of immigrant families at the southern border that has led to hundreds of children and adults being kept in detention facilities in subhuman conditions like poor hygiene materials and insufficient bedding.
“The immigration system at the border right now is a manufactured crisis by Donald Trump, it’s a humanitarian crisis,” said Hickenlooper. “We’ve got to put a bunch more resources into both facilities that are humane and a lot more judges and administrators to speed up the process.”
“Putting kids in cages is unthinkable,” he added.
Hickenlooper also emphasized the need for a “comprehensive” solution to immigration and said he believes investing in the “Northern Triangle” countries — Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — will be crucial to solving the immigration crisis. The Democratic former Colorado governor touted his experience working in those nations as a geologist more than three decades ago.
“I know that country and that landscape and they are good people,” said Hickenlooper. “If we just went back and started making more investments there so people weren’t fleeing for their lives, we would solve at lot of the problems at the border.”
However, Hickenlooper went on to note he believes the United States Government needs to more closely examine what types of immigrants it allows to enter the country legally and what they can contribute to American society, namely how their education and skills can be beneficial to the U.S. He also said more of a balance must be struck between the number of such skilled immigrants who are admitted entry and the number of families who are reunited.
“Right now, 80 percent of the people we admit are family reunification immigrants. Maybe it should be 50-50,” said Hickenlooper. “Maybe we need more agricultural workers or hospitality workers.”
The Colorado Democrat stressed the importance of a secure border and properly identifying and vetting migrants, although he proposed a bold new plan to help undocumented immigrants.
“We got 10 [or] 11 million people here illegally now, [who are] undocumented. Give them all visas,” said Hickenlooper, citing the record low unemployment rate to justify his opposition to deporting immigrants “willy-nilly.” The Colorado Democrat said only migrants who have committed crimes should be deported.
More specifically, Hickenlooper proposed giving illegal immigrants 10-year visas that could potentially renewed should they meet certain requirements. Should migrants fail to meet these requirements, they would be forced to pay a “penalty,” he added before saying he would not support a direct pathway to citizenship.
The last policy Hickenlooper proposed regarding immigration concerned holding American businesses accountable for paying undocumented workers “under the table.”
“That doesn’t benefit anyone. That makes our commercial landscape unfair,” said Hickenlooper.
Stay tuned for more videos from uPolitics’ interview series with 2020 presidential candidates!