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Democratic Presidential Contenders Differ on Key Policies


From left, Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, are seen ahead of their primary debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Feb. 7, 2020.

Democrats vying for their party's nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 U.S. election in November agree -- and disagree -- on many critical issues and topics of importance to Americans. VOA has compiled a rundown of five candidates' positions on immigration, trade policy and America's future in Afghanistan.

Immigration

Joe Biden

  • Opposes eliminating criminal border crossing penalties.
  • Vows to direct federal resources to “smart” border enforcement efforts to improve screening infrastructure at ports of entry.
  • Favors providing health care coverage to immigrants.
  • Supports path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, brought to the U.S. as children.
  • Supports accepting at least 110,000 refugees a year.
  • Favors a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living in the country.

Pete Buttigieg

  • Favors providing options for undocumented immigrants to buy health coverage.
  • Opposes eliminating criminal border crossing penalties.
  • Supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
  • Favors the reinstatement of immigration enforcement priorities with an emphasis on removing people who pose a danger to the community.
  • Supports limited border barriers but prefers deploying technology to enhance border security.
  • Supports a comprehensive review of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Amy Klobuchar

  • Wants to prioritize comprehensive immigration reform and pass it in the first year.
  • Will undo any guideline by the Trump administration that aimed to deport Dreamers and immigrants who are living under any Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforcement Departure.
  • Reopen international USCIS offices to deal with international adoptions, family visa petitions, among others.
  • Against decriminalizing unauthorized migrant crossings.
  • Favors border barrier construction if paired with a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants.

Bernie Sanders

  • Repeal criminal penalties for those apprehended trying to cross the border. Sanders would reserve criminal prosecution for those who pose security threats.
  • Vows to tear down the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Wants to invest in technology to fight drug and human trafficking.
  • Reform immigration enforcement system, including breaking up ICE and CBP and redistributing their functions.
  • Halt most deportations, which Sanders call cruel and inhumane.
  • Reunite families that have been separated.
  • Supports a family-based immigration system grounded in civil and human rights.

Elizabeth Warren

  • Favors a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Those already enrolled in a program crafted by the Obama administration to shield Dreamers from deportation would also be covered.
  • "Reshape” CBP and ICE and reduce immigration detention.
  • Favors providing health care to immigrants under a proposed program to provide universal, government-funded coverage.
  • Allow more refugees into the United States and create an office of New Americans.
  • Vows to tear down physical barriers erected along the U.S.-Mexico border under President Trump.
  • Would decriminalize unauthorized border crossings.

Trade

Joe Biden

  • Supports the revised NAFTA/USMCA deal.
  • Opposes most tariffs.
  • Supports joining Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Wants to confront China's trade practices without inviting trade wars.
  • Wants to enforce existing trade laws and invest in American workers and communities.

Pete Buttigieg

  • Does not support the use of tariffs to pressure countries.
  • Supports the Trump administration’s confrontation of China's trade practices but also hopes to work with China.
  • Supports the revised NAFTA/USMCA deal.
  • Opposes rejoining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Amy Klobuchar

  • Favors tariffs to pressure certain countries with unfair trade practices.
  • Supports the revised NAFTA/USMCA deal.
  • Favors working with allies like Japan and the European Union to confront China's trading practices.
  • Wants to restore travel to and trade with Cuba.
  • Supports the federal government “aggressively” combating Chinese steel dumping.
  • Favors tougher enforcement of trade laws, including increased inspections of steel imports at ports of entry.

Bernie Sanders

  • Supports a full review of tariffs against China.
  • Wants to rewrite all trade deals.
  • In favor of an executive order to end federal contracts to corporations that outsource American jobs.
  • Says U.S. tariffs can be an effective tool to protect American workers and incentivize nations to adopt better labor and environmental practices.
  • Wants to expand Buy American, Buy Local and other government policies to increase jobs in the U.S.

Elizabeth Warren

  • End closed-door trade negotiations heavily influenced by corporate interests.
  • Wants environmental, consumer and labor representatives to outnumber corporate interests on trade advisory committees.
  • Plans to overhaul U.S. trade policy toward China.
  • Creation of a “non-sustainable economy” designation to allow the U.S. to impose tougher penalties on countries with poor labor and environmental practices.
  • Supports the Paris Climate Agreement and wants countries to eliminate domestic fuel subsidies as a precondition for entering trade negotiations with the United States.

Afghanistan

Joe Biden

  • Favors maintaining a U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan

Pete Buttigieg

  • Favors bringing U.S. troops home without delay.

Amy Klobuchar

  • Vows to bring most U.S. troops home by the end of her first term but is open to keeping a limited troop presence in Afghanistan.

Bernie Sanders

  • Supports withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Elizabeth Warren

  • Vows to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan in her first term.

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