By Kimberly SolisDemocrat/CNN Chief Congressional CorrespondentWILMINGTON, NC (CNN) — Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders opposed Trump administration restrictions on immigration enforcement in so-called protected areas, according to documents obtained by CNN.
Biden cited his previous running mate, Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, who said the affected lands should remain open to legal and illegal immigration, but others were much more unequivocal, according to internal documents from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sanders, of Vermont, who calls himself a “proud democratic socialist,” was the only presidential contender identified in the documents as not opposing the administration’s changes, the documents show.
A major component of the proposed changes would change the boundary for newly identified protected areas. Without going into specifics, Sanders said in a statement to CNN that “if I become president of the United States, I will end all deportations of undocumented workers to the US for two years from each of the 438 states.”
The proposed changes are part of the Trump administration’s fight against illegal immigration and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — called Dreamers by those who are enrolled in the program.
“We don’t want to close off businesses and particular jobs that may be shut off because there is a shortage of labor,” DOJ’s senior counselor for enforcement and removal operations, Thomas Homan, said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. “If you’re one of the recent immigrants or immigrants in the United States illegally, if you come through the watchlist or if you have criminal history, you’re not getting here.”
The proposed changes, which are at a preliminary stage, would not only block immigration enforcement, but would also take away the state authority to enforce immigration laws in those areas.
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A letter from Biden, released to CNN, which was sent to the head of the Bureau of Land Management on December 20, cites Kerrey’s past work to help immigrants who entered the country illegally.
“I encourage you to exercise your authority to determine that California and other protected areas in California, Washington, Oregon, the New Mexico and Arizona border regions, and Baja California remain open to legal and illegal immigration as those areas were settled and developed prior to 1994,” Biden wrote.
Kerrey, in a statement to CNN, said he and Biden are “big fans of each other, and we share the view that interior legal immigration policies should support economic growth and jobs in the United States.”
The Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Land Management, told CNN that the state rights are in the public interest but declined to confirm the specific letter sent to the bureau’s acting secretary.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has withheld publicly available documents about the proposed changes. Agency spokesman Joseph Manganiello sent the following statement: “As with any proposal that is not final or has not yet had a decision, no comment will be made until the matter is formally decided. However, there are a number of public documents on this proposal. Specific documents would be provided if requested.”
Several Democratic lawmakers, particularly those with presidential ambitions, have criticized the Trump administration over the planned changes, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Al Franken of Minnesota, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Al Franken of Minnesota, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Al Franken of Minnesota, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.
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