Where Do the Candidates Stand on Immigration Laws?


            Throughout the historic 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama and John McCain have disagreed and debated over issues such as the war in Iraq, the economy, and faith and values, rarely agreeing on a problem or solution.  However, when it comes to the need to reform United States immigration laws, both candidates seem to be on the same wavelength and both are determined to secure U.S. borders and provide a path to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants and their families.

            According to barackobama.com, the problems with immigration laws include a forty percent explosion in undocumented immigrants since 2000, broken immigration bureaucracy and unsuccessful immigration raids, which produced only 3,600 arrests in 2006.

            Obama said, “The time to fix our broken immigration system is now … We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace … But for reform to work, we also must respond to what pulls people to America … Where we can reunite families, we should.  Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should.”

            The Democratic nominee wants to secure the borders by adding needed personnel, infrastructure and technology at U.S. borders and ports.  Obama and running mate Joe Biden want to improve the immigration system by keeping immigrant families together and providing business owners with the workers they need to contribute to the economy.  In addition, “Obama and Biden will remove incentives to enter the country illegally by cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants,” according to his website.

            The Democratic ticket would also change immigration laws by requiring that undocumented immigrants pay a fine, learn English and go to the back of the line if they want to become United States citizens.  Furthermore, Obama and Biden want to work with Mexico to promote economic development so that immigrants will not feel the need to enter the U.S. illegally to earn suitable wages to support their families.

            McCain and running mate Sarah Palin also favor reforming immigration laws to promote a secure border, a path to citizenship and punishment for companies that hire undocumented workers.

            “As you know, I and many other colleagues twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic contribution of immigration laborers; apprehend those who came here illegally to commit crimes; and deal practically and humanely with those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life for their families, without excusing the fact they came here illegally or granting them privileges before those who have been waiting their turn outside the country,” McCain said.

            To secure U.S. borders McCain will set guidelines to secure the border through physical and virtual barriers, deploy unmanned aerial vehicles in border states, and continue the utilization of the US-VISIT visitor security program.

            McCain and Palin would prosecute “bad-actor” employers who hire undocumented workers by creating a database that would quickly verify a job applicant’s work eligibility status.  The Republican would also reform immigration laws by creating a temporary worker program that meets the labor needs in this country by ensuring that students who are educated in America have the opportunity to work in this country upon graduation and reforming caps for the H-1B visa program to rise and fall with the demand for workers and market conditions.

            And like their Democratic counterparts, the Republican ticket would change immigration laws by requiring all undocumented workers to enroll in a program to resolve their citizenship status, which will require them to pay fines, learn English, pass a citizenship course and guarantee that no one who enters this country illegally will get a green card before those applying legally.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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