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Presidential Candidates Reveal Plans to Enable Success for Immigrants with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Jan 28 – Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major 5-4 ruling allowing an expansion of the definition of “public charge” to deny green cards to people who may need government aid. This ruling will directly impact immigrants with disabilities who would qualify for Medicaid.

Meanwhile, with only days until the Iowa Caucus takes place, presidential candidates are reaching out to immigrants with disabilities and their loved ones with specific plans for enabling their success.

The disability community is, by nature, intersectional. Immigration advocacy organization IMM Print estimates that there are up to “1.5 million undocumented individuals…with a disability.” Further, Census Bureau data shows that there are more than 44 million immigrants living in the United States and out of that number, up to six million are probably living with a disability.

As a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of community, RespectAbility has invited all candidates in the presidential race on both sides of the aisle to submit their answers to a 2020 Disability Voter Candidate Questionnaire. This questionnaire covers some of the most important issues impacting people with disabilities including employment, education, immigration, criminal justice and accessibility. 

Question 5 in the Questionnaire was: “Immigration is a major social, political and workforce development issue. Given questions around the new “public charge” rule that impacts immigrants with disabilities, the challenges faced by English language learners with non-visible disabilities who want to develop their skills and the talent needs of the business community, what is your vision for enabling immigrants to succeed here in America?”

Below, read the answers from the five candidates who responded:

close-up of pete buttigieg's face

Mayor Pete Buttigieg

“First and foremost, I will reverse the prejudicial and unlawful public charge rule, which disproportionately impacts disabled immigrants and their families by punishing them for receiving the medical benefits they need and to which they are entitled. Second, I will push for minimizing immigration detention, which is costly and unnecessary and has an even more detrimental impact on individuals with disabilities.”

Read the full response (Question 5)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

“Senator Klobuchar believes that comprehensive immigration reform is crucial to moving our economy and our country forward. She supports a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes the DREAM Act, border security and an accountable pathway to earned citizenship. She is committed to stopping the cruel and inhumane policy where the government is taking kids away from their parents.”

Read the full response (Question 5)

headshot of Amy Klobuchar smiling

close-up of Bernie Sanders smiling while wearing a suit and a tie

Sen. Bernie Sanders

“We must live up to our ideals as a nation and make our immigration and citizenship process welcoming, accessible and broad. Bernie will streamline our visa and citizenship system and make it easier to navigate, fully accessible, and broadly inclusive. Bernie will direct the newly created National Office of Disability Coordination to work with agencies to ensure the immigration and citizenship process is fully accessible to people with disabilities.”

Read the full response (Question 5)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

“I will establish new protections for immigrants with disabilities. Immigrants grow our economy and make our communities richer and more diverse, and immigrants with disabilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. As president, I will protect asylum seekers by issuing guidance to limit the use of detention to circumstances when it is necessary because an individual poses a flight or safety risk, and to protect those who are most vulnerable in a general detention facility.”

Read the full response (Question 5)

Elizabeth Warren smiling wearing a blue suit

close up of Andrew Yang smiling wearing a white collared shirt and gray suit jacket

Mr. Andrew Yang

“The processes that are used to determine who is ineligible for citizenship according to the public charge rule are ambiguous and inherently discriminatory, and they disproportionately target women, the poor, and those with disabilities. It’s inhumane to treat people with disabilities as a burden due to their health needs and deny them the protections that should be afforded to all people.”

Read the full response (Question 5)

RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes as voters go to the polls. RespectAbility has reached out to all of the presidential campaigns and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. View more coverage of 2020 presidential candidates. 

Published in2020 CampaignAmy KlobucharAndrew YangBernie SandersDemocratsElizabeth WarrenPete Buttigieg

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