THEMES

These Themes have been distilled from the Ideas of all the Players in the way described in Home. They are meant to portray the heart of the debate on U.S. immigration policy. The Themes are grouped into four macro-categories, each with its own descriptive header. Click the arrow icon or anywhere else on a header to display all the Themes in that macro-category. Below the text for each Theme is a bar chart showing the extent of Player support for that Theme on the political left and right. Under each bar are links to the Profiles for Players who support that Theme. To close a macro-category group of Themes, click anywhere in the header for that group.

The bar chart under each theme
shows player support for that theme
on the left and on the right.

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1. Illegal crossings at our southern border have gotten out of hand. The only way to stop it is to physically seal up the border. And the only way to seal up the border is to build a wall.

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2. The U.S. must take drastic measures to cut down the number of illegal crossings into our country from Mexico. Top priorities include hiring more enforcement agents and strengthening other aspects of our border security.

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3. Diverting military funds and using emergency powers to construct a border wall is a bad idea. It shows defiance of Congress’s power of the purse.

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4. If any person enters our country without permission for any reason, it is properly viewed as a criminal offense. This applies to everyone, including unaccompanied minors.

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5. When families with children are held in federal detention after entering the country without permission, the Flores agreement bars detaining minors for more than 20 days. In the view of the Trump administration, the Flores agreement empowered the government to separate minors from their families because asylum cases ordinarily exceed 20 days. Subsequent litigation has complicated this picture, but one benefit of separating minors from their families is that it deters migrant families from crossing our borders without permission in the first place.

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6. We need to fund more immigration judges and ensure that they all operate in accordance with strict guidelines administered by the Justice Department. Judges need tough, clear mandates to be empowered to take quick, decisive action. It is the only way we’ll be able to relieve the backlog of cases, take the burden off of our detention centers, and send immigrants back to their home countries.

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7. We need to fund a substantial increase in the number of immigration judges to handle the huge backlog of cases and to avoid the lengthy detention of a large number of migrants while their cases are resolved. Congress also needs to consider granting immigration judges more discretion in shaping more lenient remedies that fit special circumstances. This could include granting judges more power to cancel deportation orders for long-term residents, especially those with a child who is a U.S. citizen.

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8. In dealing with unauthorized entry over our borders, detention of those who are apprehended should be used only when other, less restrictive measures are not feasible. We should consider other possibilities, such as the Family Case Management Program that has been successfully employed in the past or, when appropriate, released immigrants on personal recognizance. We certainly shouldn’t be separating minor children from their parents or guardians for the purpose of detaining adults who have entered the country without permission. Detention should be used as a last resort.

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9. The detention of immigrants should not be outsourced to for-profit prisons. The humane treatment and human rights of detainees will always be an impediment to profit.

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10. Entry into our country without permission is currently a criminal violation, though overstaying a visa is not. We do not need to treat unauthorized entry as a crime in order to protect our border; it can be handled as a civil violation, which already works for the vast majority of immigration adjudications.

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The bar chart under each theme
shows player support for that theme
on the left and on the right.

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11. Fourteenth Amendment confers citizenship on any person born in this country. We should look for ways to prevent abuse of this right, such as pregnant foreigners entering the country for the express purpose of giving birth to a U.S. citizen.

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12. If you are in this country with permission and want to apply for citizenship, the law should provide that it counts against you if you have used food stamps or enrolled in other public benefit programs.

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13. If you are in this country without proper documentation, you are a candidate for deportation even if you moved here as a minor or have been here for a long time. The agencies charged with enforcing our immigration laws should use all legal means to find you, arrest you, and deport you. Such tools include surprise sweeps of suspect employers and community gathering places, such as hospitals and schools. The federal government should oppose the dangerous example set by sanctuary cities that refuse to assist in enforcing immigration laws.

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14. If you are in this country without proper documentation it does not make sense for our country to devise a pathway to citizenship for you.

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15. Given that there are more than 11 million undocumented immigrants already in our country and the harsh uncertainties this generates for them and those who interact with them, we need to work toward a national consensus on a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding, productive members of the undocumented population.

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16. Government-run health care programs are major public benefits that absorb significant tax dollars. We should not extend to undocumented immigrants the right to participate in such programs.

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17. Undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children should be allowed to remain here through a permanent resolution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was never meant to last forever. It has been allowed to continue amid litigation challenging the termination of the program; if the courts ultimately permit its termination, Congress should step in to save it.

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18. There are millions of people in our country without proper documentation. A high proportion of them are productive members of our economy and our communities. We do not have the political will or the resources to deport the entire undocumented population. Therefore, we should find a realistic and humane way to bring greater order to this situation. We need to make sure we have workable rules for the undocumented regarding such matters as verification of legal status, employment, payment of taxes, education, and participation in programs that confer a governmental benefit.

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19. It makes no sense to conduct systematic raids on schools, hospitals, and other public places to arrest undocumented persons; any benefit of such raids is outweighed by the resulting fear that impedes access of the undocumented to these public places.

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20. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is so disreputable that it should be abolished and its functions assigned to other agencies.

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The bar chart under each theme
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on the left and on the right.

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21. We must reduce the number of people who are granted political asylum in the U.S. to 18,000 per year or fewer and, where possible, force applicants to seek asylum from their country of origin. It is not acceptable for them to enter Mexico and appeal for asylum at our border.

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22. Fear of gang violence or domestic abuse in one’s home country is not a sufficient reason to grant asylum. Asylum should be granted only to those who fear persecution by their government.

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23. Our country is not able to undertake major efforts to reshape troubled societies in Central America or other desperate places around the world to make them safer for their own people.

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24. We should return to a more active role in Central America to help reshape those troubled countries to make them safer for their own people, which would in turn decrease the number of migrants seeking refuge in the U.S.

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25. We should have a political asylum system worthy of our global role as a beacon of freedom and opportunity. This will ordinarily mean granting asylum to more than 100,000 applicants per year and adequately funding the enforcement and application adjudication agencies and courts. We recognize granting asylum is a selective process. However, fear of gang violence or domestic abuse and even the impact of climate change, such as extreme drought, are factors worthy of consideration. Denying asylum seekers an opportunity to apply at a U.S. port of entry is unduly harsh.

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26. An international body like the U.N. should step in to help residents of Northern Triangle countries apply for asylum. Regional processing centers would enable people to apply for asylum in the U.S. without making the perilous journey north to apply at our border. Give migrants the opportunity to seek safety within their own region.

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27. Instead of granting asylum to those living in troubled societies in the Northern Triangle, we should increase access to Temporary Protected Status (which allows refugees from extremely dangerous regions to stay in the U.S. until danger abates at home), as we did for those fleeing violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

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The bar chart under each theme
shows player support for that theme
on the left and on the right.

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28. We grant permission to too many people to move to our country for non-economic reasons. We should favor the admission of people who will bring us economic advantages, not just move in with a relative or come in under some other non-economic quota. Diversity and lottery visas do not serve American interests. Instead, they open the door to people who use our social services without adding much to our economy.

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29. We should think of visas in national security terms. The most important consideration is that we keep Americans safe. If this means banning travel or limiting visas from a part of the world that is sponsoring terrorists, then so be it. If this means we can’t offer asylum or Temporary Protected Status (for refugees from war-torn lands) to everyone who seeks to escape, then that is what we have to do.

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30. Chain migration exists on too broad a scale in the U.S. immigration system. It lets one family member who makes it into this country to systematically bring in more family members. Maybe if you’re married or have children and want to unify your family, fine, but opening the doors beyond to uncles, cousins and grandparents puts too big a burden on our public resources.

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31. We should protect American jobs and American wages by limiting the number of temporary workers allowed into our country. If we need workers in a particular industry, then those needs should be met by immigrants only after American workers have been offered the jobs at fair wages.

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32. Our system for granting visas should be regularly examined by Congress to make sure it is aligned with our national interest, especially in terms of admitting foreign talent where we need it for our economic vigor and competitiveness. Special visa allocations—called place-based visas—should be made available to communities that want or need more immigrants to help grow their economies.

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33. Family reunification will always be a legitimate objective of the visa system. Those who have been allowed to reside in the country legally should be able to bring their spouses, children, and parents into the country, too. There is a multimillion case backlog of reunification applications that needs to be cleared.

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34. Diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths. If we let in only people with high levels of wealth, education, and skills, then our diversity is put at risk. We should value people for the variety of perspectives and cultures they bring to this country. We have to take this into account when we consider whom to let into the country.

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35. Some in the U.S. fear Islam as a religion and all its followers. We should never let such fear of an entire religious group dictate visa policy.

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