Churches Sanctuary

Jose Robles, center in white hat, walks with supporters before he presented himself to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on July 17 in Tukwila, Wash. The prospect of nationwide immigration raids has provided evidence that legions of pastors, rabbis and their congregations stand ready to help vulnerable immigrants with offers of sanctuary and other services.

The questions of whether immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be afforded a pathway to citizenship, and whether families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border should be separated get plenty of discussion on the Democratic presidential primary campaign trail.

One key element largely missing to the discussion, even in Iowa, is how immigration reform would impact the state’s agricultural community, which employs many immigrants.

The Democratic presidential candidates have been critical of how Republican President Donald Trump’s administration has attempted to crack down on border crossings, including border enforcement officials separating immigrant children from their parents.

They also disparage the Trump administration’s ban on travel from several Muslim-majority nations.

There is widespread support among the Democratic presidential candidates for protecting and even codifying the program that protects from deportation immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

The program, known as DACA --- deferred action on childhood arrivals, was instituted under Democratic former president Barack Obama.

Early in the campaign there was disagreement among the Democratic candidates over whether illegally crossing the border should be treated as a civil infraction instead of a criminal offense. Beto O’Rourke, who has since dropped out of the race, during a primary debate advocated for making illegal border crossing a civil infraction. Elizabeth Warren, one of the polling leaders in the race, also supports decriminalizing illegal border crossings.

Some of the candidates also have proposed reforming or outright eliminating federal border enforcement agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

Most of the Democratic candidates also have been critical of the Trump administration’s moves to limit the number of refugees accepted by the U.S. And Trump issued an executive order that would allow states to refuse any refugees; that has been delayed by the courts.

The U.S. is on pace to resettle the lowest number of refugees in a single year since 1980, when the nation’s refugee resettlement program was created, according to the Pew Research Center.

Graham Ambrose is the Iowa politics reporter for the Quad-City Times.