Speed Reads

policy proposal alert

Beto O'Rourke proposes a new 'community-based visa category' as part of immigration plan

Former congressman Beto O'Rourke is continuing his attempt to shake the notion that he's all performance, no policy as he campaigns for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Just weeks after releasing a sweeping plan addressing climate change, he unveiled another major policy outline on Wednesday.

This one is focused on immigration, making him the second Democratic candidate to release an immigration policy proposal after former Housing Secretary Julián Castro did so in April.

O'Rourke's plan is broad and hits the usual points most Democrats are intent on pursuing — pathways to citizenship, revamping the asylum process, increasing safety at the border, and investing more in Central America to curb the immigration push factor. All those ideas represent significant changes to current policy, but are not necessarily novel in and of themselves. But O'Rourke did throw in a more unique idea, as well — community-based sponsorship.

He is calling for a "new, first-of-its-kind community-based visa category." In this scenario, communities and congregations in the United States would "welcome refugees through community sponsorship of visas." This apparently part of O'Rourke's desire to strengthen the family and community units, but also help drive economic growth within U.S. communities. The proposal notes that immigration reform would create at least 3 million jobs over the next decade, which, in turn, would add $2 billion to state and local tax revenues, cutting the national deficit by at least $1 trillion over the next 20 years.