Warren 'open to suspending deportations' to force immigration reform

White House hopeful Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race MORE (D-Mass.) said Friday that, as president, she would be "open to suspending deportations" to pressure Congress to pass immigration reform legislation. 

“I am open to suspending deportations, particularly as a way to push Congress for comprehensive immigration reform,” Warren said at a town hall in Raleigh, N.C., focused on issues facing Hispanics.

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Immigration has emerged as a chief issue among Democratic presidential contenders as the crowded primary field debates how to reverse hard-line policies implemented under the Trump administration.

Democrats have particularly criticized the White House for its now-abandoned “zero tolerance policy” that separated families at the border, as well as increasing efforts to deport undocumented immigrants who don’t have histories of violence. 

“I believe that what we’re doing right now with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] focusing on people who do not pose a threat, that when ICE comes into our communities, takes our neighbors, our friends, our family members, that they do not make this country safer,” Warren said. 

“And that we need ICE and Customs and Border Patrol just focused on real threats from terrorism, container shipping that comes into the United States, contraband that we have to worry about, fentanyl that we need to be focused on. There are places that we should focus for our safety, but tearing families apart is not that.” 

Warren’s comments come a day after Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal MORE (I-Vt.), another presidential candidate, unveiled a sweeping immigration plan that would, among other things, put a moratorium on deportations and ICE raids.

Warren and Sanders are currently battling for the primary field’s progressive mantle as the two top-tier contenders each release policies they say would rectify racial and economic inequities and fight for a range of social justice causes.