Speaking in New York on Tuesday at the New York State Immigrant Action Fund, O’Malley outlined the policy changes he would seek to enact on his first day in office.
“As Americans, we are good people, and we can do better than this backwards, broken immigration process that rips families apart without good reason, fails to protect public safety as it should and is holding us back from an economy that works for everyone,” O’Malley said.
“My end goal is to get 11 million people out of the shadow economy and the shadow society and into the light of full participation, to be more fully included in the economic, political and social life of our country,” he added.
On a stage flanked by immigrants and immigration reform advocates, including Siobhan Dennehey of the New York Irish Immigration Center, O’Malley said that he would widely expand on the deferred action policies introduced under President Obama and play hardball with Congress on passing the bi-partisan immigration reform changes that have stalled since the Senate approved them in 2013.
He also outlined plans for streamlining the path towards legal immigration, opening up the Affordable Care Act to those with deferred action, easing the three and 10-year bars on re-entering he US for those who have lived here undocumented, and ending the detention of immigrants who don’t pose a threat to public safety.
O’Malley took a strong stance on the recent remarks from Republican presidential contender Donald Trump that Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug lords. He expressed hope that Trump’s fellow Republican candidates hold different views, noting, “It is disturbing though, that their presidential candidates appear divided, and some of them very silent on calling out that sort of hate speech that he was spewing."
The former Maryland governor has a strong record on immigration reform. In Maryland, he signed the DREAM Act into law, and fought for drivers licenses for the undocumented, and to block the deportation of minors back to the countries they had fled.
“The enduring symbol of our liberty is not a barbed wire fence,” O’Malley said, “it’s the Statue of Liberty.”