WASHINGTON — No doubt the two presidential candidates have dramatically different approaches on immigration.
In tone, Republican Donald Trump often highlights violent crimes perpetrated by immigrants in the country illegally, with aggressive rhetoric that emphasizes nationalism. Democrat Hillary Clinton features a softer approach that embraces diversity and the value of keeping immigrant families together, even as her critics accuse her of promoting “open borders.”
It’s not just talk. The White House contenders’ policies would send the country — and the lives of roughly 11 million people — down very different paths.
Trump says he would build a massive wall, target millions for deportation and deny legal status to anyone currently in the country illegally. Clinton would offer a pathway to citizenship for most immigrants regardless of how they arrived, continue to defer enforcement action against families, and offer health care options to immigrants here illegally.
Here is a summary of their proposals:
PATHWAY TO CITIZENSHIP
CLINTON: She promises to propose immigration legislation in her first 100 days that would include a route to citizenship. Her approach is largely in line with that approved by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate in 2013 but turned aside by the House.
TRUMP: He has clarified that he opposes any pathway to legal status for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. They would have to return to their home countries and apply for legal entry should they wish to come back. He has not said what would happen to those who choose to stay, but said they are subject to deportation. Trump has also called for an end to “birthright citizenship,” currently granted to anyone born in the United States.
A BORDER WALL
TRUMP: A centerpiece of Trump’s immigration plan is a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico. There are already some 650 miles of fencing along the border, including roughly 15-foot-tall steel fencing in many urban areas. Trump says he’ll extend a huge wall across the vast majority of the 2,100-mile border, which would be a major construction feat costing billions of dollars. He promises to make Mexico pay for it. He would also add 5,000 border patrol agents and expand the number of border patrol stations.
CLINTON: She says there are places where a physical barrier is appropriate but opposes large-scale expansion of a border wall. She prefers relying on technology and more border patrol agents to ensure the border is secure.
BARACK OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ORDERS
CLINTON: She supports President Obama’s executive actions that deferred immigration enforcement against millions of children and parents in the country illegally. A deadlocked Supreme Court decision in June blocked his order, but Clinton insists that such actions are within the president’s authority.
TRUMP: He has said he would “immediately terminate” the executive orders, which he said gave amnesty to 5 million immigrants. One part of the president’s executive action that remains in place has shielded about 740,000 immigrations from deportation, all of them people who came to the United States as children. The president’s plan to expand the program would have protected as many as 4 million immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
TRUMP: He has softened his approach on dealing with those already in the country illegally. He has pledged to begin deportation of criminal immigrants on his first day in office, but backed off his earlier pledge to forcibly remove all of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, saying only that those who aren’t immediate threats would have to go home and then apply for legal status. Critics have likened that piece of the plan to Mitt Romney’s widely panned call for “self-deportation.”
CLINTON: She would continue Obama’s policy of deporting violent criminals and others who break the law after entering the United States. But she would scale back the current administration’s immigration raids, which she says produce “unnecessary fear and disruption in communities.” Under her plan, the vast majority of people in the country illegally would be allowed to stay and apply for legal status and eventual citizenship.
CLINTON: She would allow all people to buy into the federal health care exchanges, although she has said those in the country illegally wouldn’t qualify for subsidies. Her policy would also allow some to collect Social Security, so long as they pay into the system for at least 10 years.
TRUMP: He would deny immigrants in the country illegally access to any government benefits, including the federal health care exchanges. He has said that such immigrants should not be allowed to get food stamps, welfare payments or government-backed housing assistance. Those who do, he said, would be priorities for deportation.
TRUMP: Like many Republicans, he vows to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. Trump has pledged to block taxpayer dollars from going to any cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Municipalities like San Francisco, for example, have passed ordinances preventing city officials from asking about immigration status unless required by law or court order.
CLINTON: She has not directly answered whether she supports sanctuary cities, but her campaign has said that “Hillary trusts our local police to make sound decisions about protecting their communities.” That suggests she would not interfere with local ordinances, like San Francisco’s. She has said such systems allow immigrants to freely report crimes and communicate with local policy without fear of deportation. Her campaign noted, however, that she believes violent criminals should be deported and a system is needed to ensure that happens.
Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
Follow Steve Peoples on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/sppeoples
EDITOR’S NOTE _ One in an AP series examining the policy prescriptions offered by the major candidates for president.