Between Democrats and Republicans, it is oft expected that, on a particular issue, when a leader from one party takes a symbolic stance, his or her counterpart from the opponent party must express views that are direct inverses of the first set of beliefs. In truth, many times elected officials fall in line behind party lines.
The topics of illegal immigration and immigration have caused politicians and analysts from the extreme left and the far right of the political spectrum to weigh in on the subjects. Imaginably, many times the arguments these politically-minded people make are related to their party/ideology affiliation; Democrats will give into their liberal tendencies, while Republicans will counter with staunch conservatism.
However, just the same, some theorists will take off in their own direction, stating opinions with which that not every member of their party might identify or agree. Indeed, some elected officials have proven to be surprising in their goals for domestic immigration policy. As such, to be wholly accurate about what the federal government is saying about immigration, it behooves the reader to weigh the outlooks of individual people separately and on their own merits.
Bush on Immigration Reform
President George W. Bush’s call to action regarding immigration reform was not just a response to recent population shifts in the amounts of Hispanics legally and illegally migrating to the United States.
Rather, it was a significant part of his agenda, and his focus was made very public by the combined efforts of his administration. In terms of what President Bush had hoped to accomplish, while he panned appeals for automatic amnesty of illegal immigrant workers, he did believe in a short-term temporary worker program that, according to his hopes, would influence individuals without valid status to return to their country of origin, having gained a small reprieve from the economic hardships of their homeland.
At the same time, though, for those illegal aliens who wished to become permanent members of American society, Mr. Bush did envision a route for them to gain full citizenship, although this also meant that undocumented foreigners with jobs would have to wait with other legal migrants. In other words, while his plan emphasized a quicker transition from immigrant to citizen, it was not an outright reward for illegals. Ultimately, President Bush’s scheme for immigration reform would fail, dealing a major blow to his intended domestic policy.
Obama on Immigration Reform
While no large-scale reforms have come to the arena of immigration in some time, many have pledged to do something about this stagnation. One elected official who has vowed to tackle immigration reform head on is President Barack Obama, who, to his credit, has been very forthcoming with his plans to change America. One key component of his movement to modify American immigration law is a renewed emphasis on the enforcement of existing policies.
This includes increased funding and resources for customs and border preservation, without disregarding the civil liberties of illegals, as well as a crackdown on employers in the interior of the country who forsake available American labor to cut costs and employ illegal immigrants, often under less than satisfactory conditions.
At the same time, though, Obama’s stressing of the importance of prevention does not equate to a refusal of benefits for those undocumented immigrants already here. As with President Bush, Barack Obama promotes a manner for illegal aliens to gain citizen status by paying a fine, becoming proficient in English and formally completing the naturalization process. Moreover, Mr. Obama’s economic policies would apply on an international level under his approach; he and his administration aim to work hand in hand with Mexico to help them secure their own borders and improve financially.
McCain on Immigration Reform
Senator John McCain has been an avid supporter of immigration reform, at the very least in the past 10 years. While, of course, proximity of his home state to the southern border of the United States would cause Mr. McCain to have a vested interest in allocating more resources for border patrol and securing American ports of entry, efforts surrounding these concepts have also manifested themselves in McCain’s sponsorship of reform-minded legislation, notably the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act.
The bill, co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy, provided for the creation of a temporary guest visa program for foreign workers, as did other bills in the past. It should be noted, however, that written, signed statements from an employer were needed before he or she could fill any gaps with alien laborers, and furthermore, that undocumented immigrants would need to pay a several hundred dollar fee to enlist in this program.
As for applying for citizenship, this was also a possibility under McCain’s proposal. While some saw John McCain’s approach as an easy out for some illegals immigrants, he claimed that the process would not be as easy as it might appear, and furthermore, that nationalized immigrants would need proper documentation.
Goldwater on Immigration Reform
While President George W. Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain have tried hard in recent years to pass a new set of guidelines on dealing with immigration in all facets, their theoretical plans were effectually quite similar to those raised and rejected by Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1970’s.
As with Bush’s and McCain’s plans, appeals to change during this era called for forgiveness of individuals who entered the country on illegitimate terms and tougher penalties for employers who were accessories to the violation of immigration law. Goldwater, meanwhile, opposed these schemes, citing the notion that an option for “amnesty” of some sort would only encourage people to migrate to the United States illegally, and furthermore, that sanctions on employers could come into conflict with civil rights.
As for providing a solution to the problem, Sen. Goldwater was equally up to the task, instead suggesting a guest worker program with six-month extensions and newer border security technologies. At the same time, though, the senator did indicate he understood where these illegal entrants were coming from spiritually.
Ted Kennedy on Immigration Reform
Before passing away, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy made immigration reform one of his top goals, carrying on the legacy of his fallen brother President John F. Kennedy. Aside from his sponsorship of Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, Senator Kennedy worked for decades to try to improve domestic immigration policy on the behalf of all immigrants.
One of his most lasting successes is his large degree of influence on the U.S. Congress to pass the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished the national origins quota system maintained by the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act and paved the way for Latin Americans and other immigrant groups to enter the country in large numbers.
In addition, under new immigration laws of the 80’s and 90’s that would affect immigration, Ted Kennedy oversaw improvements made to refugee resettlement plans, parole grants to illegal immigrants, censure of employers who break the rules, and permission for more highly skilled laborers to be integrated into American society.
Democrats on Immigration Reform
With Barack Obama defeating John McCain to become the 44th President of the United States and making subsequent promises to change the face of immigration to the United States, the Democrats are under increased scrutiny to make real and realistic alterations to current American immigration policy.
Regarding security of borders, seaports and airports, Democrats are generally in line with the demands on voters and want stricter regulation based on those terms, but many oppose augmenting fences and practices of immediate deportation. Partly in response to the wishes of Mexican and Latino voters, too, the Democratic Party tends to favor some form of amnesty for illegal immigrants “in good standing,” even in the face of American laborers decrying the addition of more undocumented aliens and refugees that potentially are a drain on the country’s available jobs.
Through all of this, though, there are outliers within the Democratic Party that espouse different views on immigration. Some look at immigration law very carefully, stopping the discussion at the initial illegality of entry, while still others are divided on what benefits to afford illegals and how to identify them.
Republicans on Immigration Reform
After concerns of the American public regarding the ongoing loss of finances and human lives with the United States’ continued occupation of Iraq and the loss of homes and jobs under President George W. Bush, the popularity and influence of the Republican Party suffered mightily, and it was therefore very natural that Barack Obama earned his ticket to the White House as a Democratic candidate.
Consequently, the onus is on Republicans to bring voters back into the conservative fold, and one of the ways in which they hope to achieve this is by frankly discussing the immigration debate. As a general rule, members of the G.O.P. tend to oppose amnesties for illegals.
Some Republicans also advocate for the creation of a federal identification system to register immigrations to the country and establish a form of legal documentation, immediate deportation for violent offenders of federal and state laws, and a preference for skilled laborers who possess extraordinary talents, as opposed to general laborers and the unemployed.
Obama on Immigration During the 2010 State of the Union Address
Even prior to his inauguration as President of the United States, Barack Obama, then Senator from Illinois, hoped to distinguish himself from his Democratic competitors in the debates and primaries by pledging to address immigration reform within his first term.
Later, upon winning the 2008 presidential election against John McCain, Obama amended previous statements and vowed to tackle immigration problems within the first three hundred and sixty-five days of his service to the nation. However, with the passing of the one-year anniversary of Mr. Obama’s induction into the White House as well as his fulfillment of the State of the Union Address to Congress and the American people in January of 2010, critics are already seeing signs of the imminent demise of immigration reform in the United States.
President Obama’s discussion of immigration was reasonably limited during the Address, with only a few clipped comments about the need for better security, enforcement of existing policies and creating roads for immigrants to naturalize serving as his means of addressing the subject. In reality, this did little to provide a practical solution to the illegal immigration problem, and furthermore, it only raised suspicions that Obama is not to be trusted in keeping his promises.
Tea Party Movement on Immigration Reform
The Tea Party Movement, which initially sought to evoke images of wronged Americans revolting against unfair practices of a tyrannical government circa the colonial and revolutionary periods prior to independence, did not have a great deal of correlation with immigration reform.
First and foremost, the Tea Party protests, made popular in 2009 after Barack Obama’s inauguration, were a reaction to the administration’s economic policies, with specific regard to the federal government’s economic stimulus measures, which it sees as wasteful, its move for increased nationwide expenditure related to socialist-minded programs such as universal health care, and the perception that taxes would be dramatically and unfairly increased. While members of the Tea Party Movement are not unified on the subject of immigration, there is a significant amount of cross-pollination when it comes to their ideals and the aims of conservative Republicans.
For one, Tea Party representatives tend to be resistant to programs of amnesty for illegal immigrant groups, taking a zero-tolerance position on this theme. Additionally, Tea Party members support restrictions made on immigrants irrespective of status, notably that of making English an official language of states or even the nation as a whole.
Progressives on Immigration Reform
To a certain extent, the terms “progressive” and “liberal” are analogous. In the common vernacular, these words are lumped together based on common tendencies of both movements to support the organization of laborers and trade workers, display anti-war sentiment, fight for the creation of government-run health care and insurance, advocate for the augmentation of minimum wage, and protect the environment. On a technical plane, meanwhile, progressives are less concerned with where they fall on the liberal-conservative continuum and more engaged with the process of instituting genuine reform.
Nevertheless, even if political affiliation may not as heavily come into play as it obviously does with Democrats and Republicans, progressive thought regarding immigration reform features certain reoccurring elements. Among the individual reforms they seek are awards of green cards and citizenship regardless of possession of an extraordinary ability or advanced degree, a reboot of the review process for illegal immigrants that will eliminate unreasonable deportations, the overall allowance for more refugees and migrants, and recognition of illegals’ place in the American workforce.
A smaller subset of progressives, meanwhile, devote special attention to the role illegal immigration plays on depleting the environmental resources of the country, and call for treatment of the underlying causes of illegal immigration rather than stricter enforcement of borders/deportation.