By Chris Cronin
Staff Columnist

Despite the near-continuous mudslinging that defines this electoral cycle, immigration has been sidelined. While both candidates have mainly focused on the economy, the issue of our borders has been largely out of the press. This is somewhat surprising for several reasons. Firstly, while President Barack Obama has, like Senator Mitt Romney, made the economy the major focus of his campaign, he has been willing to tackle immigration as well.

President Obama put into place a minor but still important reform earlier this year through executive order. The order instituted a key piece of the DREAM Act, a comprehensive immigration reform package that failed to pass despite bipartisan support in Congress. Obama’s reform delayed the deportation of undocumented immigrants who met certain criteria, including having been brought to America as a child, having an education or serving in the military, and not having a serious criminal record. This is crucial because it gives skilled illegal immigrants who were brought here without their consent a better chance to become full citizens.

President Obama has also recently campaigned on this issue. On Sept. 20th, he stated in a TV interview that he believed that his biggest failure as president was not instituting immigration reform, again underscoring his campaign’s willingness to discuss the issue.

But of course, in an election year, little happens without some sort of political angle, and there is a definite political angle here for President Obama. Immigration continues to be the number one issue with Latinos, the largest minority in the country and a massive and powerful voter bloc. Both candidates attempted to woo the Latino population. The aforementioned TV interview with President Obama was in fact given to a Spanish-language TV network, and there is little doubt that President Obama chose to focus on immigration in order to woo votes. He is not alone; on Sept. 17th, Romney gave a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce where he promised to “fix” immigration.

Unlike President Obama, however, Romney has not taken or even detailed specific actions to fix the problem. This is partly due to the perpetual tight rope walk Republican candidates must face, where they must cater to an increasingly radical base while wooing moderate independents. After all, Rick Perry, a candidate so conservative that he once declared in an ad that President Obama was fighting a war on religion, was seriously damaged during the primaries for what was seen as a “soft” immigration stance. President Obama faces a similar tightrope with his own (less radical) base, in this case trying to please unions who believe immigrants are taking jobs from American citizens.

But throughout all of this political maneuvering and tightrope-walking, two things are happening. One is that even as both candidates are talking about reasonable immigration reform, the situation on the Mexican border is seriously deteriorating.

The ongoing drug war in Mexico is causing severe damage to cross-border trade and encouraging more and more Mexicans to flee, but the border has been increasingly militarized. For instance, Border Patrol recently began deploying drones identical to those used to spy on combat zones.

Secondly, immigration reform, besides Obama’s small but significant step, is not happening. Immigrants still face intolerable waiting times for a Green Card. Arizona and Alabama now have extremely right-wing immigration laws which actively discriminate against Latinos, and the DREAM Act, the best hope for any sort of reform, is stalled in Congress. Is it any wonder that Latino voters, increasingly courted by both parties, feel disenfranchised by both?

President Obama and Romney have both recently reached out to Latino voters. This is a step in the right direction. But until we bring immigration back into the national discussion, the situation is only going to get worse.

The Elm

4 thoughts on “Today’s Challenge of Immigration Reform

  1. There’s simply no excuse for the USA to lack fuctional control of our borders. Mexco is our greatest source of drugs and human smuggling. Both of which are detrimental to our safety and security.

    By magyart Sep 30,2012 @ 10:23 pm

  2. The author says, “Immigrants still face intolerable waiting times for a Green Card.”

    Why does it take so long to get a Green Card? Could it be that the line is extremely long? The only way to shorten the waiting time is by legally admitting even more immigrants than are currently admitted every year. Please tell us how many should be legally admitted every year?

    By wigglwagon Oct 01,2012 @ 2:08 am

  3. VOTERS SHOULD DEMAND THAT CONGRESS SEVER ALL WELFARE TO ILLEGAL ALIENS AND SEND THEM HOME.

    In my personal opinion I don’t think Mitt Romney’s discussion about 47 percent of people are paying no taxes was a misstep. Along with the American citizens who are “freeloaders” the scroungers, illegal aliens fit into these same criteria, thanks to both political parties. None of our immigration policies are going to matter, if Obama returns for a second term? The only people it’s going to financially affect the taxpayers and the hundreds of billions of dollars to be extracted forcibly from their taxes.

    EXAMPLE, LOS ANGELES COUNTY – Year-end closing 2011 figures from the Department of Public Social Services reported that over $646 million in welfare and food stamp benefits were issued to illegal alien parents for their native-born children, announced Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. The $646.2 million consisted of $258 million in CalWORKs (welfare) and $388 million in Food Stamps) — a $21 million increase over the previous year. “With the $550 million for public safety and nearly $500 million for healthcare, the total cost for illegal aliens to this one County taxpayer exceeds $1.6 billion dollars a year,” said Antonovich. “These costs do not include the hundreds of millions of dollars for education.” Californians need to contact their Representative, specifically governor Brown and the Liberal State assembly and demand no more illegal alien pandering, or Californian taxpayers will be taxed even more from now to doomsday.

    We have pregnant mothers legally entered the United States on a tourist visa. Then after a few months after giving birth at a county hospital, returned to some foreign country with her newly born child in tow–bearing a U.S. passport. Then at a later age the child arrives in the United States, when it was time to claim her birthright as a U.S. citizen demanding a free public education, free health care. This is what the opposition call “birth tourism” and the practice is solidly deep-rooted in the Los Angeles area, using so-called maternity homes catering to expectant mothers from Asia openly publicized in San Francisco Area. Now good old governor Brown of California, is going to issue Drivers licenses to the eligible illegal aliens who receives special status under Obama’s “Dream Act” policy.

    Lying to immigration officers on entry is a federal crime, Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated, but is difficult to prove. She said that to her knowledge no one has been prosecuted in California for visa fraud in relation to birth tourism. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., group that supports tighter immigration controls, is among those who argue for restrictions to help guard against the practice. “The idea that visitors from abroad who intentionally come to give birth to U.S. citizens would have been considered absurd by the framers of the 14th amendment,” Some advocates for stricter immigration controls, such as NumbersUSA, Federation for American Immigration Reform have lobbied to have an amendment to the 14th Amendment added– an action Krikorian believes may be “too drastic.” He suggests a middle ground: that if a child born to foreign parents in the United States was still living in the country 10 years later, he or she would be automatically naturalized. Other organizations believe that when this law was first enacted, it was to supply citizenship to the slaves after the Civil War. That an amendment would only allow citizenship to a child, if one parent was already a citizen or a U.S. serviceman could claim their child gain citizenship status.

    President Obama is sure to enact another blanket amnesty as Reagan did in 1986. Only chance to stave-off any of immigration policies is to vote as many TEA Party legislators into Congress as possible. God help us from the two corrupt political parties if we do not? Better also be alert for Democratic Voter fraud now until November, because ACORN is NOT dead. The TEA PARTY members will be carefully overseeing elections, watching for voting irregularities. The blue states are purposely unconcerned for none citizens voting in any government election, at any level and even absentee ballots are open to fraudulent manipulation. Any none-citizen whether illegal alien voting or anybody else should be held accountable and should face a penal punishment.

    The TEA PARTY (THE PEOPLE’S) PARTY should not be defined as just white people; they are not, they are millions of Americans of every nationality and skin color. My chapter has Hispanics, Black people, Asians from every walk of life. We are “The People “frustrated with the corruption in both parties. The Liberal oriented mainstream media have constantly lied about the agenda of the TEA PARTY. The TEA PARTY are moderate Constitutionalists, not the hard core Marxist-Communist-Socialists entrenched amongst the Democrats who want open borders and no laws to stop illegal migrants and immigrants from thrashing the U.S. taxpayers safety net.

    If you want higher taxes; higher gas prices at the pump; an archaic tax system that benefits the privileged in both parties; a ever growing federal government with rules and regulations that inhibit new business creation; and a president that is giving even more to the “freeloader” parasites that cohabit with the illegal alien invaders who are draining the state reservoirs of money. Obama’s “Political Correctness” is causing major problems and effecting foreign policy. He has alienated Israel to some extent with his Social ideology, he refuses to us the term “Terrorist” and he still wants to keep transmitting taxpayers money in huge amounts money to Egypt and many countries and not exclusively in the middle east that hate American guts. . It also seems that Obama is in accord with the corrupt United Nations, who not only allow animal-terrorists as the arch enemy to America and Israel as the President of Iran to spew out his vitriol garbage, but the UN also wants to globally tax every country. What our Congress should demand by American voters is get the UN out of our face, and cut off the 10 billion dollars we send to them.

    As I am covered by medicare myself, I learned today that under the controversial ObamaCare directive, some of the latest news that has developed from the conservative press is that seniors on Medicare are going to have their federal payments cut, so that money can be used to cover the cost of younger people? I think that every older American should ask questions about this, by contacting their local politician. However, I wouldn’t bother talking to any Democrat, as I think they will say the opposite.

    The 9th circuit court is run by a bunch of Liberal judges, who interpret the laws according to their plan, not to the edicts of the Constitution. If something isn’t done in the next presidency, America will be further overrun with –unfettered poverty. It’s still not a felony to cross illegally into this sovereign nation and as I see it and millions who are involved in the TEA PARTY, the laws have been ignored for years. Why should citizens or lawful immigrants with papers have to compete with illegal aliens? I just know America is in serious trouble with a 16 trillion dollar deficit, and no real enforcement to stop more human financial encumbrances entering through our borders or jetting in from a foreign country. It’s a real catch 22 situation with the winners being businesses using cheap labor, selling more TV and household appliances, food and a whole retinue of things needed to live. They go to the bank loaded down with their dollars, but the taxpayers must foot the bills for free health care, free children’s schooling to K-12, government housing and other special programs, while citizens-residents pay the immense bill.

    I am sure about is the plan of the TEA PARTY if they can eject many Democrats and Republican incumbents and replace them? It’s already happening and by replacing incumbents in the Republican Party can politically persist that the “LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT (E-VERIFY) and the BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP LAW” finds passage and enacted to restrain more illegal alien invaders. They bring their unborn babies here, to live as parasites of the U.S. taxpayer. The children of illegal aliens had no say in coming to America, but by the enactment of the BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL, this incredulous expensive issue for taxpayers is resolved. It’s wrong in the majority of Americans minds that people who wait for years with honest attentions to come to his sovereign country, while others violate our nations laws and not only walk scot free, and are able to use fraudulent Social Security numbers to be hired for jobs. This is especially significant when millions of citizens-residents live in poverty, because there is no work available.

    By Dave Francis Oct 01,2012 @ 6:37 pm

  4. Hi Dave,

    Your comment is riddled with innacurate information. I am sure that this is not your fault, but the result of only getting your news from a very small number of outlets: what you call the “Conservative press.” Tell me, Dave, why do you think the “Conservative press” so readily brands the vast majority of media outlets “liberal?” It is because they wish to dissuade their supporters from fact-checking their often incorrect and distorted information. I would challenge you to branch out and read a broader range of news sources, or even watch C-Span itself, so that you can get a more accurate picture of what is going on. As it is, I will refute your points one-by-one. Feel free to fact-check my information if you do not believe me.

    1. The “47 Percent” of people that Mitt Romney was talking about extends to all Americans not paying income taxes. That includes soldiers deployed overseas, who are waived taxes, that includes senior citizens, and that includes students in full-time education. I don’t think that American heroes putting their life at risk or people who have retired after a life of hard work deserve to be called freeloaders.

    2. So-called “anchor babies,” babies birthed by illegals in the US, have been a political issue before, and they continue to be a factually-dubious proposition: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/aug/06/lindsey-graham/illegal-immigrants-anchor-babies-birthright/

    3. I agree that people who aren’t citizens should not be placing strain on the social safety net. But that’s why we need to provide a path to citizenship– so they can pay in with their taxes, rather than simply cashing out!

    4. I think that it is nearly impossible for President Obama to push through a blanket amnesty. The political opposition would be much too strong. However, I think that the DREAM Act– which provides a path to citizenship through public service or education– would allow the best illegals to get on the system and begin contributing to society, while blocking undesirable criminals and leechers. Obama will probably try to push this in his second term.

    5. Give me an example of one Marxist Democratic politician, or one video of a Democratic politician stating that they want to open the borders. This is simply not true– no one wants to open the borders.

    6. I have yet to see a tax proposal from the Tea Party or anyone else that would handle the problem of wealth inequality in this country. However, Tea Party congressmen have consistently voted against any sort of tax increases on the super-wealthy. Wonder why Mitt Romney pays half the tax rate you do? The Tea Party played a role in that.

    7. President Obama has used the word “terrorist” numerous times, including in the most recent debate.

    8. The foreign aid budget– money to countries which “hate our butts”– largely goes to development (improving those countries so they don’t hate us as much) and defense cooperation (getting those countries to help fight terror). The entire foreign aid budget is less than 1% of the total budget.

    9. Seniors will not have their Medicare cut under Obamacare. That is simply untrue. However, Paul Ryan has indicated in his budget that he would be open to cutting Medicare for seniors. If every Democrat will tell you that it is not true, then why are you so certain that it is a fact? I’d like to see your source.

    10. There is absolutely zero in the Constitution about the 9th Circuit Court. The Constitution empowers Congress to create a court system under the Supreme Court as they see fit. There is, therefore, no requirement for them to take a Scalia-style strict Constitutionalist stance. And if they were, it is up to the citizens in the states represented in the 9th Circuit– including California, Oregon and Washington, among others– to inform their politicians to appoint less “liberal” judges.

    11. There is a great deal of “real enforcement” in place to stop illegal aliens. There is a wall on the Mexican border, surveillance drones surveying the border, strict restrictions on entry at airports, and a number of other draconian security measures, largely implemented by George W. Bush, to prevent illegals from entering the country.

    12. Health care, children’s schooling and government housing are not “special programs,” they are basic social institutions which virtually every developed country, and many developing countries, provides for their citizens. By global standards, the United States has a very poor social safety net.

    13. If you want programs with an immense bill, perhaps you should look at Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which take up gargantuan portions of the budget. The people who are actually draining our coffers are not illegal immigrants, who do not qualify for any of these expensive entitlement programs, but wealthy seniors who are taking government money to buy things which they could easily afford on their own. Why does Ted Turner get Social Security? Why does Roger Ailes get Medicare?

    13. And here’s the final point: even if we kicked out every single illegal immigrant tomorrow, we would still be vastly in the deficit hole thanks to two unjust wars and out-of-control spending by George W. Bush and an incompetent Congress. Voting in a few Tea Party-ers just isn’t going to change that.

    Ask your friends in the Tea Party if they care about facts, or about the truth. We’re not going to fix America’s problems if we don’t have our facts straight.

    By Chris Cronin Oct 21,2012 @ 9:37 pm

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