HIAS Response to First Presidential Debate

Immigration was center-stage at the CNN Presidential Debate tonight, in a depiction largely characterized by misinformation about who immigrants are, and why they come to our country. With more than 120 million people displaced worldwide due to conflict and violence, HIAS calls for leadership and solutions, rather than dangerous and inaccurate rhetoric.

“In tonight’s debate, immigration took center stage, but the truth was hiding backstage,” said Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS. “Former President Trump had nothing truthful to say about refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers, and President Biden said too little to forcefully speak the truth that refugees and immigrants are a blessing to this country. After 250 years of history, this is one lesson we should have learned by now. The way to make America great again is to make America greet again.”

HIAS particularly opposed the use of anti-immigrant rhetoric and conspiracy theories about an “invasion” at the border, which were reminiscent of the discrimination faced by generations of  immigrants in some of the darkest moments in our history.

“Tonight was a stark reminder of how the debate about the undeniably broken U.S. immigration system and the ways to try to reform it has devolved,” said Naomi Steinberg, HIAS’ Vice President, U.S. Policy & Advocacy. “Gone are the days when extremists would use dog whistles to send coded messages about immigrants. Tonight, extremism, disinformation and fear mongering were on full display.”

As the campaign unfolds, HIAS calls on both candidates to utilize the remainder of the election campaign to outline their vision for a fair and functional immigration system that respects the dignity of people arriving at our borders. 

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