Pete Buttigieg On Immigration: Does He Support a Pathway to Citizenship?

pete buttigieg

Getty Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg on June 8, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa

Pete Buttigieg promotes passing a comprehensive immigration reform law that would include a pathway to citizenship for all illegal immigrations who are “working, paying taxes, and contributing to our American story,” including DREAMers.

Buttigieg has said that if he wins the White House, he would evaluate policies at U.S. Customs and Border Protection and ICE to make sure situations such as family separation would not happen again. He explains on his campaign website that he believes the legal immigration system needs additional resources in order to free up the “backlog.”

Buttigieg advocates for ending the current “Remain in Mexico” policy that forces immigrants to stay on the other side of the border while their cases proceed in U.S. courts. Buttigieg has also proposed having officials with the Department of Health and Human Services oversee processing centers where asylum seekers are detained, instead of Customs and Border Protection.

Here’s what you need to know.


Mayor Buttigieg Implemented a ‘Community Resident Card’ Program for Undocumented Immigrants in South Bend

If the candidates are asked about immigration during the debates, one policy that Pete Buttigieg may talk about is one that he implemented as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He worked with the local non-profit group La Casa de Amistad to launch the “Community Resident Card” program for undocumented immigrants living in the city, of which there are an estimated 4,000. The idea was to create a way for these South Bend residents to legally obtain an identification card.

La Casa de Amistad runs the program, not the city government of South Bend. As reported by NBC News, this provides an extra layer of security for the people obtaining the cards because private organizations are not “bound by requests for public records the way the city might be.”

Mayor Buttigieg signed an executive order requiring city entities to accept the identification cards. That includes schools, banks, utility companies, and the police department. Buttigieg does not talk about this program much on the campaign trail, but it’s something he may discuss more as the primary election continues.


Buttigieg Says Cutting Funding to Central American Countries Will Increase Migration, Not Curb It

Pete Buttigieg disagreed with President Trump’s decision to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Buttigieg, along with congressional Democrats and some Republicans, have argued cutting this aid may increase migration to the United States and spur asylum seekers, not slow it down. The UN Refugee Agency says that the increased number of families seeking asylum are fleeing gang violence in their native countries.

Buttigieg called the plan to cut aid “backward” and “upside down.” He said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on June 16, 2019, that the funding that is being taken away could have helped to stabilize Central American countries and encourage families to remain. Buttigieg also took a shot at the current administration in that interview, accusing the administration of choosing to ignore immigration reform for political purposes. “It’s more useful to them as a crisis unsolved than it would be as an achievement if they actually did something.”


Pete Buttigieg Is the Son of an Immigrant

The issue of immigration is a personal one for Pete Buttigieg. His father, the late Joseph Buttigieg, was originally from the Mediterranean island country of Malta. He immigrated to the United States as a Ph.D student at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

The elder Buttigieg became a citizen in 1979 while he was teaching at New Mexico State University. He married Pete’s mother, Jennifer Anne Montgomery, the following year. She was born in the U.S. and the daughter of an Army Colonel.

Buttigieg included on his campaign website, “We must remember that immigrants are an essential part of our American story. Immigration creates strong families and communities who contribute to our economic growth and participate in our vibrant democracy.”