Voters for the most part vote on trigger items that affect them personally. Whether it is health or other benefits, or special interests like the economy, taxes or social changes like same-sex marriages, the vast majority of voter focus on their individual trigger points. For the most part, the trigger points are balanced by opposing viewpoints who are able to control the dialog through their own electorate. It is balancing act on who can mobilize the largest amount of voters. Except for immigrant advocates.
Anti-immigrant rhetoric driving public policy is seldom balanced by pro-immigrant advocates because the pro-advocates do not have a support base of voters that they can leverage at the polls. Thus the public discussion about immigration reform is often one sided as the other side is silenced by their inability to mobilize a voting bloc.
Like others interested in US politics I have my own interest trigger points. As an immigrant, immigration reform is one of my most important issues in the presidential race. Unfortunately, other than to point out misconceptions and write about it, my inability to vote because I am not a US citizen makes it difficult to force a public discussion devoid of political rhetoric.
However, because immigration reform figures prominently in the national debate each of the top contenders for the presidency in 2016 has had to address it. Because of political agendas, their position on immigration reform is distorted by news media biases and opposition perceptional attacks by the operatives of their opponents. Therefore, I wanted to get a clear understanding of the immigration platforms of the top presidential candidates. To get a clear picture I went straight to their websites.
Hillary Clinton (D)
Clinton’s platform promises to embrace a pathway to citizenship focused on keeping families together. Clinton is promising to defend President Obama’s DACA and DAPA executive actions. Hillary Clinton’s platform is pro-immigration reform.
Ted Cruz (R)
Ted Cruz’ immigration platform is focused on securing the border. Cruz argues that immigration must be stopped until unemployment is reduced. Cruz wants to build a wall and end technology work permits while increasing deportations. Ted Cruz’s immigration platform is to close immigration, both legal and undocumented, into the United States, until the US reduces its unemployment rate.
Marco Rubio (R)
Marco Rubio wants to secure the border as well. Rubio advocates finishing the wall, hiring additional border patrol agents and using technology to track and verify immigrants. Rubio argues that enforcement must be a priority but insists that immigrants are good for the country. Rubio wants to modernize the immigration system away from a family-based one towards one based on work and skilled based labor. Marco Rubio advocates creating a seasonal guest worker program and agricultural visas as well high-tech visas to fill labor requirements.
In regards to the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States, Rubio proposes allowing them to register on a temporary basis and after passing background checks and paying fines they would be allowed into a pathway to an eventual permanent legal immigration state. Marco Rubio’s platform espouses border and immigration reform, reforming the immigration process to focus on labor needs and creating a pathway for those already in the country.
Donald Trump (R)
Donald Trump’s immigration platform is focused on ensuring US employees have the first access to US jobs. Trump advocates building a wall on the southern border of the United States and doing away with employee-based visas allowing foreign workers into the US to work. Donald Trump also wants to end birthright citizenship. Trump advocates that before any new immigrants are allowed into the country that employers must fill job vacancies with US workers first. Donald Trump’s immigration platform is one of securing the border and ending immigration into the United States until all job openings are filled by US workers.
Bernie Sanders (D)
Bernie Sanders advocates ending deportations and detention centers. Sanders wants to offer a road to citizenship to the undocumented immigrants in the country. Bernie Sanders also wants to “modernize the visa system.” He wants to expand DACA and DAPA. Sanders also wants to enact legislation to allow immigrant workers the right to assert their worker rights without the fear of reprisals through adverse immigration actions. Sanders’ plan includes allowing undocumented immigrants to be sponsored by US and resident alien relatives and to allow those who overstayed their visas to remain in the US.
Unique to Bernie Sanders, he is advocating allowing formerly deported immigrants to return to the United States to reunite with family members. Sanders advocates holding the border patrol accountable and doing away with the US-Mexico wall to be replaced by technology to monitor the border. Sanders advocates a “humane” border and immigration process. In essence, Bernie Sanders wants to implement an immigration policy that is welcoming of immigrants into the United States and do away with capricious enforcement designed to appease anti-immigrant politics.
I realize that it is one thing to state that a candidate will do something and a completely different thing that they will keep their promises once they are elected. It is important, though, to have a starting point from where we can begin the discussion. Their official platforms on the issue of immigration reform is a good starting point as each of the candidates race towards the nomination to their respective parties.
I am pleasantly surprised by Bernie Sanders’ stated immigration reform platform. It is clear, fair and focuses on the reality of why immigrants come to the United States.