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Election 2020

The border and other issues to watch for in the Democratic primary debates

Three things to watch for that would make a difference for refugees, asylum seekers, and others seeking safety from war and violence.

On June 26 and 27, Democratic candidates for president will take the stage in Miami for the first round of primary debates. It’s a chance to get to know the candidates and their stances on crucial issues, including those that affect asylum seekers at the border, and others seeking safety from war and violence.

Below are three crucial issues that we’ll be watching for in the upcoming debates. You can learn more by downloading our comprehensive viewer’s guide here

Asylum seekers and the border

Why is it important?

Families coming to the border fleeing violence and persecution in Central America have been met with a series of policies designed to put obstacles in their path to safety, sometimes with devastating results. A photo of a Salvadoran father and daughter who died in an attempt to reach the United States is a shocking reminder of the impact of violence in Central America, and the lethal impact of U.S. policies like “Remain in Mexico” (also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP). The Trump Administration's widespread use of MPP along the border has forced thousands of women, children and families back to Mexico, in unsafe conditions, to wait for the day when they will get the chance to seek protection. In addition, under the so-called “Zero Tolerance” policy, the administration has pursued the systematic separation of children from their parents at the border

What should we watch for? 

Will candidates propose policies to support and protect women, children, and families seeking safety at the border?

Will candidates lift up the stories of those who have come to the U.S. in search of safety? 

Will candidates oppose the Migrant Protection Protocols? Will candidates support amending the law to eliminate this provision? 


Why is it important? 

The world is currently experiencing an unprecedented refugee crisis, with 70 million people forcibly displaced globally. While the U.S. has historically been a global leader in refugee assistance, the Trump Administration has turned its back on refugees. A new bill in Congress, the GRACE Act, would help to restore America’s legacy of welcome by establishing an annual refugee admissions level of no less than 95,000. Senators Booker, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders have co-sponsored the bill. 

What should we look for?  

Will candidates take a stand in support of America’s legacy of welcome?

Will candidates prioritize the refugee resettlement program? 

Will candidates promise to restore admissions to historic levels?


Why is it important?

The conflict in Yemen is driving the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with famine conditions and the largest suspected cholera outbreak in modern history. Last year, an unprecedented Senate vote to halt military support to the war in Yemen increased the pressure on the warring parties and pushed them toward a ceasefire agreement. Since then, a fragile political process is ongoing and a localized ceasefire remains in place, but continued diplomatic pressure is required to sustain it.

What should we watch for? 

Will candidates support a unilateral, unconditional ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates?

Will candidates discuss the diplomatic initiatives that they would put in place to drive forward a viable political process to end the war in Yemen?

Will the candidates discuss policies that they would put in place to ensure those who violate international law, regardless of which side of the conflict they are on, are investigated and accountable?