Buttigieg vows to compensate and ‘fast-track’ to citizenship children separated at border

Pete Buttigieg
“It was wrong and we should fix was what broken,” Pete Buttigieg said when discussing children separated from their families at the border.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

When the topic in the Democratic debate turned to immigration, the candidates uniformly pilloried President Trump’s agenda of dramatically accelerating detainments and deportations. But one candidate went further.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg pledged that he would work to remedy the damage done to families separated at the border by providing payments to the children and moving them to the front of the line for American citizenship.

Asked if he would support financial compensation for those thousands of children, he responded: “Yes, and they should have a fast track to citizenship. It was wrong and we should fix was what broken.”


Buttigieg talked about being the child of an immigrant father and the impact immigrants have had on his city. “I am a mayor of a city where neighborhoods are coming back to life largely because of the contribution of immigrants,” he said.

For the first time, U.S. officials have begun pushing even asylum-seeking families who are not from Guatemala to that country, the Los Angeles Times has learned. The Trump administration had said a new policy effectively ending asylum at the U.S. southern border and removing asylum seekers to Central America would initially only be applied to single adults.

Dec. 10, 2019

Questioning then moved to reparations for descendants of slaves.

Buttigieg said he supports a bill in Congress that would study reparations. “We are not talking about a gift to anybody,” he said. “We are talking about mending what was broken.”

Other candidates sidestepped the reparation question.

Former Vice President Joe Biden instead returned to talking about immigrants. “The reason we are the country we are is because of immigration,” he said. “People who come here have determination, resilience, they are ready to stand up and work like the devil. The idea that we are going to walk away and not provide every opportunity is not only stupid and immoral, it is bad for America.”