The President & Immigration
As citizens of the U.S. prepare either to re-elect Barack Obama or elect Mitt Romney as president of the United States, one issue some will consider is the candidates’ positions on immigration.
President Barack Obama (Democrat)
• Says the U.S. Border Patrol is better staffed than at any time in its almost 90-year history, with more than double the agents from 2004 (much of the hiring happened under President George W. Bush); unmanned aerial surveillance covers the border from California to Texas; some 650 miles of the southwestern border has been fenced, including about 300 miles of vehicle barriers and 350 miles of pedestrian fence; 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more currency, and 64 percent more weapons have been seized than ever before.
• Supports the DREAM Act that would grant U.S. citizenship to those brought to the U.S. as minors “after a rigorous and lengthy process” that can include serving in the U.S. armed forces or pursuing higher education for at least two years.
• If any of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants register and submit to a rigorous security check and verification of eligibility—including submitting their fingerprints for criminal and national security background checks—learn English and basic American civics and demonstrate that they paid any back taxes, after eight years those individuals would be allowed to become legal permanent residents, and could eventually become citizens five years later.
Quote: “It makes no sense to punish innocent young people for the actions of their parents by expelling them from our country. Many were brought here as young children and only discovered the truth about their legal status as adults. They grew up as Americans. They pledge allegiance to our flag. If they are trying to serve in our military or earn a degree, they are contributing to our future. We should welcome their contributions.”
—Building a 21st Century Immigration System, May 2011 (available at www.whitehouse.gov)
Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor (Republican)
• Says rounding up the 11 million illegal immigrants is impractical. Instead, legal immigrants should be given a “tamper-proof” identification card; employers who hired someone without one would be severely sanctioned. Thus jobs for illegals would dry up and over time they would “self-deport.”
• The U.S. should end “magnets” to illegal immigration, such as government benefits like in-state tuition or driver’s licenses, and employers willing to hire illegals for low wages.
• Opposes Obama’s DREAM Act.
• English should be the official language of the U.S.
• The entire 2,600-mile southern border should have a “high-tech” fence and enough agents to protect it.
• Quote: “Our country must do a
better job of securing its borders and as president, I will. That means completing construction of a high-tech fence, and investing in adequate manpower and resources. We must also get tough on employers who hire illegal immigrants. That means putting in place an employment verification system that is both reliable and secure. Finally, we must stop providing the incentives that promote illegal immigration.”
—Speech to Republican National Hispanic Assembly, September 2, 2011
Darrel Rowland is an adult Bible fellowship teacher at Worthington (Ohio) Christian Church and public affairs editor of The Columbus Dispatch.