Pete Buttigieg

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana | Former Democratic 2020 Candidate for President

Pete Buttigieg is the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and the first openly gay person to run for president of the United States. Though Buttigieg’s identity imbued his campaign with the promise of generational change, the Harvard alum and Rhodes scholar relied heavily on his Midwestern roots, his military deployment to Afghanistan, and centrist policy ideas to appeal to the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.

Having held no public office higher than mayor of South Bend (2012– 2019), Buttigieg does not have a deep record on immigration. However, during his campaign for president, he regularly invoked his father, an immigrant from Malta, and his support of the undocumented immigrant community in South Bend.

As mayor, he implemented a first-of-its-kind municipal identification card system for undocumented immigrants, enabling residents to access such basic services as schools, banks, and drugstores. And he often underscores the positive influence the Latino community has had on South Bend’s economic development, saying that Latinos are “a key part of the economic engine for our country.”

As a presidential candidate, though Buttigieg was in lock-step with progressive Democrats in calling President Trump’s immigration policy “racist,” he delighted moderates and conservatives alike by calling for “reasonable measures on border security.”


Buttigieg’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Buttigieg supports spending that improves border security but cautions that “we need to ensure that funding for our immigration system addresses more than just security and enforcement efforts.”

  • Border Wall

    Buttigieg supports extending the barriers at the southern border only if security experts recommend it and it is part of a more comprehensive approach to security.

  • Detention

    Buttigieg supports detention only as “a last resort.” He supports reinstatement of the Family Case Management Program (FCMP), which used case managers, instead of detention, to ensure participants complied with their legal obligations as they moved through immigration proceedings. FCMP was discontinued in early 2019.

  • Immigration Courts

    Buttigieg has pointed out the need to adjudicate “asylum claims much more quickly” but has yet to release ideas for how to do so.

  • Undocumented Population

    Buttigieg supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, focusing deportations on those convicted of felonies and other serious crimes. He does not support decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings.

  • ICE

    Buttigieg has called for a comprehensive review of the agency and advocates redistributing “certain or all responsibilities” to other government agencies, as needed.

  • DACA

    Buttigieg supports a pathway to citizenship for all DACA enrollees, as well as all undocumented immigrants in the country without any serious criminal convictions.

  • Asylum

    Buttigieg supports a return to the Obama administration level of 110,000 refugees accepted annually and supports making changes to the system to “further reduce the incentive to file frivolous asylum claims.”

  • Central America Policy

    Buttigieg supports continued aid to the region. He has stated that the U.S. should “assist regional governments as they implement reforms and work to strengthen overall governance, including supporting and emboldening regional civil society organizations dedicated to human rights, good governance and democratic accountability.”

  • Visas

    Buttigieg has proposed place-based visas as a means to revitalize shrinking communities across the U.S. He also supports mandatory use of E-Verify but says that “because there are systemic problems with E-Verify today, any expansion of its use should also be conditioned on improving the system.”