(Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
CNSNews.com) – Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Thursday that he’s for compensating illegal immigrant children separated from their families at the border, and on top of that, he would fast track U.S. citizenship for them.
“You said last month that the U.S. owes compensation to children separated from their families at the southern border. The consensus among child welfare workers is that they will suffer lifelong trauma as a result of that separation. Are you committing as president to financial compensation for those thousands of children?” Buttigieg was asked at the PBS NewsHour POLITICO Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles, Calif.
“Yes,” Buttigieg said, “and they should have a fast track to citizenship because what the United States did under this president to them was wrong. We have a moral obligation to make right what was broken, and on the larger issue of immigration, my understanding of this issue isn’t theoretical.
“It’s not something I formed in committee rooms in Washington. It begins with the fact that my household, my family, came from abroad. My father immigrated to this country and became a U.S. citizen. It comes from the fact that I’m the mayor of a city where neighborhoods that were left for dying are coming back largely due to the contributions mainly of Latino immigrants,” he said.
I’ve seen neighbors shut down, families huddling in church, panicking just because of a rumor of an ice raid. It did not make our country safe,” Buttigieg said.
“To look into the eyes of an eight-year-old boy whose father was deported even though he had nothing so much as a traffic ticket against his name and try to think of something to tell that boy because I couldn’t tell him what he most wanted to hear, which is just that he was going to have his dad back,” the mayor said.
“How can harming that young man possibly make America safe? When I am president, based on those experiences, I will make sure that this is a country of laws and of values, and that means not only ending these unspeakable, cruel practices at the border but finally and truly fixing the immigration problem that has needed a full overhaul since the 1980s. We cannot wait four years, 10 years. We cannot wait anymore to do something,” he said.
Buttigieg was also asked whether he supports reparations for the descendants of slaves.
“I support H.R. 40, which is the bill that has been proposed in Congress to establish a commission to look at reparations, but we shouldn’t wait for that commission to do its work to do things that are reparative. Remember, we’re not talking about a gift to anybody. We’re talking about mending what was broken,” the mayor said.
“We’re talking about the generational theft of the wealth of generations of African-Americans. And just crossing out a racist policy and replacing it with a neutral one is not enough to deliver equality. Harms compound, just like a dollar saved in its value compounds over time. So does the value of a dollar stolen, and that is why the United States must act immediately with investments in minority-owned businesses, with investments in health equity, with investments in HBCUs, and on the longer-term, a look at reparations so that we can mend what has been broken,” he said.