I’m gonna have a bit of an continuing mission here to, among other things, sort out the positions of the various US Presidential hopefuls on immigration reform. I’ll probably be dealing principally with the Democrats first and then the Republicans if I have time.

So first up is Barack Obama.

From his official page on the issue

  • He supports extra personnel and equipment for border controls. Standard right? Sure. But then in the same paragraph he recognizes that “Despite tripling the size of the U.S. Border Patrol along the southern border between 1990-2005, the undocumented population doubled in size, the death rate of border crossings tripled, and the per-apprehension cost increased from $300 in 1992 to $1700 in 2002, according to the Center for American Progress.” So your point would be – to spend more money and resources on something which has actually been proven futile? Sweet!
  • Wants to remove incentives to emigrate by cracking down on illegal employers.
  • Wants to improve legal immigration by 1) raising number of people allowed in legally to fill necessary employment needs, 2) ensure that legalization process fees are fair and reasonable, 3) streamline and improve accuracy of FBI background checks.
  • We must “Bring people out of the shadows” – basically wants to encourage people who are otherwise in good standing to “get right with the law” by paying a fine, learning English, going to the back of the line for citizenship and then being given an opportunity to become legal in the States.
  • Put immigrants who serve in the armed forces on the fast-track to citizenship. According to Dreams Across America, over 33,000 US servicemen and women were not US citizens. If they’re good enough to die for the country, I’d say citizenship is really, really, the least we can do for them, no?

Well, nothing too surprising here, really. I’m waiting for the candidate who gets the right perspective on this and frames it as a foreign policy issue as well as a domestic one. We need to emphasize aid to the countries from which people are coming, because if those become better places to live their citizens wouldn’t have such a strong desire to leave. It’s the massive economic inequalities in the world that produce these waves of immigration that get people so upset, so why don’t they start looking at root causes? Is that so complicated?

And here are some snippets from his floor statement immigration reform.

“But those who enter our country illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of law.”
Even the democrats are buying into the criminality spin? I still reject the idea that what these people are really doing is criminal. They’d love to be in compliance with the law most of the time. They’d love to pay taxes, and be able to vote and all of that good stuff. It’s our system that won’t let them. And for them the benefits are too great to be passed up, or their connections in their adopted country already too deep to easily sever, so they remain “disrespectful” of immigration regulations.

“And because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked.”
It seems misplaced to make this either a crime or a terrorist issue. Sure, we have to make sure that we don’t let in another group of 911 bombers, but that’s such a small (potential) proportion of the immigrant population, it seems odd to give it such a disproportionate amount of attention. And I hate anything that buys into War-on-Terror fear-mongering, and encourages people to think of immigrants as a bunch of criminals and a threat to social stability.

“…we need a simple, foolproof, and mandatory mechanism for all employers to check the legal status of new hires.”
This has been a bit controversial, putting the responsibility for verification on employers to see whether their documents are false. I understand many turn the other way and don’t bother to question documents, but should employers be held responsible for accepting really good fake documents, on the other hand? I’m inclined to say no.

I really liked this statement in response to those who would make being an undocumented worker a felony and who would prosecute those who aid them in any way:

That approach is not serious. That is symbolism, that is demagoguery. It is important that if we are going to deal with this problem, we deal with it in a practical, commonsense way. If temporary legal status is granted but the policy says these immigrants are never good enough to become Americans, then the policy that makes little sense.

That’s on the right track!!