It’s election time, so I though I should brush up on the candidates stances on issues important to me (not that I’d vote McCain anyways, but just to know what I’m getting into with Obama).

So to start off I found a good article on Alternet that I meant to put up last week (as usual…meant to…then a week seemed to fly by…how does that happen?). Anyways…actually this good article on Alternet is really about good reporting at La Opinión, so give that a look if you habla español.

Highlight’s and my comments from the Alternet translation of the La Opinión piece by Maribel Hastings:

  • Both candidates support construction of a fence at the Mexican border. Boo. I’m more than a little disappointed in Obama for this. There are a million ways this is destructive and a waste of time, money and human resources.
  • McCain opposes and Obama supports the DREAM ACT – to help immigrant students, and those who wish to serve in the military gain legal status. (Wikipedia page, and webpage). I’ve talked about this before and linked to some videos that humanize the situation for long-term illegal immigrants, who don’t even know the country they’re supposed to belong and go back to.
  • McCain opposes and Obama supports giving illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. I couldn’t find mention of this particular bit on Obama’s website, but there’s not really a whole lot in the immigration section. Here’s a bit from ABC’s website. So Obama supports it as a public safety issue, even though it’s a very unpopular proposal overall, but ultimately considers it a “distraction” from the real issue of comprehensive reform.
  • Speaking of reform. Both candidates supported The Immigration Reform Bill of 2007 – remember that? that failure? Right, so McCain co-wrote it with Ted Kennedy and Obama pushed for it as well. Check the link for details.

What’s interesting about the Alternet take on this debate is that the focus on legalization/border security (the focus of the McCain-Kennedy Bill) is framing the debate in terms that will prevent truly comprehensive reform. The agency charged with dealing with immigration, says Alternet, is a huge part of the problem itself.

Much has changed for immigrants since that bill failed in 2006-2007. What is, without a doubt, the most significant change since backers of the various versions of the McCain-Kennedy bill failed to reform immigration policy in 2006-2007 is how rancid and radically bad – detention deaths, thousands of raids, massive deportations, traumatized children, steadily growing streams of hate media and hate crimes, etc. – the anti-immigrant climate has become thanks to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and others. In such a climate, “immigration reform” focusing primarily on legalization and “border security” seems out-of-touch, if not dangerous.

A more strategic, urgent and powerful immigration reform strategy has to center around the colossal tragedy caused by ICE, the colossal tragedy that is ICE. The greatest good Obama, McCain or anyone else can do to aid current and future immigrants is to put radically re-organizing, if not dismantling, ICE at the center of any discussion about “immigration reform” in the United States. Asking McCain and Obama to lead calls for either Congressional investigations or the establishment of a special investigative committee of some sort (as happened with detention facilities in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo) seems like a good place to start. So would calls for the immediate resignation of ICE chief Julie Myers, who has overseen an agency that has sexually abused, physically beaten, drugged, used dogs against and even killed immigrant detainees in a manner not unlike that seen in offshore military detention centers. With increasing frequency since 2006, Hastings and other Spanish language reporters in print and electronic media outlets have filled pages and airwaves with tear-inspiring, almost daily reports of numerous forms of abuse, death and fear experienced by immigrants at the hands of ICE.

Wow. I remember the story that broke about women being raped by immigration officers, but that list of complaints is new to me, wish they had linked to reports of some of those incidents.

So basically, if the system we have in place is so dysfunctional, a border fence or driver’s licenses are really not the root of the problem.

Most recent opinion on McCain on this front is that he’s a flip-flopper; that he changed from “comprehensive reform” to “border security first” after the failure of his reform bill. The incident most recently leading to these accusations as explained by the Baltimore Sun:

In the aftermath of McCain’s closed-door visit with more than 100 Hispanic leaders on Wednesday–sandwiched into a fundraising visit by the Republican contender–a conservative anti-illegal immigration activist who attended the meeting contended McCain was offering conservatives one view of immigration reform while telling Latinos another.

In the meeting, attendees said McCain promised that, if elected, Congress would pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. That’s anathema to people like Rosanna Pulido, the director of the Illinois Minuteman Project, who attended the event. Pulido said McCain used the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” three times. “To me, it’s a code word for amnesty” for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, she said.

Ahhhh, politics as usual.