Obama and McCain on Immigration
By Subhani & Subhani
In back-to-back appearances before 700 attendees at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference, John McCain and Barack Obama both affirmed their commitment to immigration reform.
How McCain will handle immigration if elected
McCain cosponsored a bill for comprehensive immigration reform, including amnesty, which died in the Senate about a year ago. Then, during the Republican primary season he stepped back from comprehensive reform, telling voters, “I got the message, I will secure the borders first.” In January 2008, he stated that he would not vote for the bill he had helped write. More recently, however, he’s switched back to his earlier stance on the issue, favoring comprehensive reform, despite pressure from more conservative members of his party. He supports the following:
§ Borders—Increase security, not only along border with Mexico, but also for cargo at ports
§ Diplomacy—Build strong allies with Central and South American countries that have similar goals and ideologies as the United States
§ Regulation—Reduce rules and paperwork so that employers can afford to hire the best person for the job
§ Assimilation—Provide opportunities for immigrants to learn English, American history, civics and respect for America's democratic values
During his speech in front of NALEO, McCain said, "I ... twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic necessity of immigrant 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. ..."
How Obama will handle immigration if elected
Although he agrees with McCain that increased border security is a priority, Obama said, "If we think that a wall is the sole solution to the problem, then we're not thinking it through." Obama has noted that he would support legislative measures that deal with the following:
§ Borders—Increase personnel and technology at the borders and entry points
§ System—Change burdensome bureaucracy; allow immigration to keep families together and populate the job pool
§ Employers—Penalize those who hire illegal immigrants, thus removing incentives for workers to enter the US illegally
§ Amnesty—Allow well-behaved illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship after paying a fine and learning English
§ Mexico—Also reduce incentive to immigrate by encouraging economic development in Mexico
"We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws," Obama said. "That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day."
Although both candidates seem to favour comprehensive immigration reform at this time, it remains to be seen during the gruelling campaign period ahead whether their views shift to accommodate the demands of their voting bases. We will keep Khabar readers updated with the latest immigration news from this election season.
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