PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON IMMIGRATION
Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, 2012. While the state of our Immigration laws is a major concern for many voters, the topic of immigration has not received much mention during the presidential debates nor in the candidates’ campaigns.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of each presidential candidate’s expressed views on some key immigration issues.
• DREAM Act
o President Obama: Supports the DREAM Act
o Governor Romney: Opposes the DREAM Act
•Comprehensive immigration reform
o Obama: Favors encouraging and supporting Congress in passing comprehensive immigration reform; opposes using state laws to regulate immigration
o Romney: Favors comprehensive reform to improve and simplify legal immigration
• Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
o Obama: Supported the initiation of the DACA program and would continue the program if re-elected
o Romney: If elected, would not take away the work permits and SSNs that have already been obtained by DACA applicants, but would discontinue the DACA program; would propose a different program
• Border security
o Obama: Favors more officers at the border; favors focusing financial resources on preventing the entrance of people who would harm our nation
o Romney: Favors constructing a high-tech fence at the border; favors more officers at the border; favors developing a more effective system of exit verification to ensure that people do not overstay their visas
• Temporary seasonal workers
o Obama: Favors improving procedures for U.S. employers to obtain temporary visas for seasonal employees abroad
o Romney: Favors improving procedures for U.S. employers to obtain temporary visas for seasonal employees abroad
o Obama: Favors developing a program that holds accountable those who entered illegally, by having them register, undergo national security and criminal background checks, pay taxes, pay a penalty, and learn English before being eligible for citizenship
o Romney: Opposes amnesty
• Availability and processing of visas to the U.S.
o Obama: Favors improving procedures for employers who seek to hire foreign workers for jobs if U.S. workers are not available; proposed provisional/stateside waiver option to reduce the amount of time that Immigrant Visa applicants are separated overseas from their U.S. citizen family members who are petitioning for them
o Romney: Favors increasing the limits on visas by country; favors increasing the limits on visas for highly-skilled immigrants; favors granting permanent residency to every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science or engineering at a U.S. university; favors increasing the cap on non-agricultural temporary work visas; favors giving lawful permanent residents the same priority as citizens when applying to bring spouses and minor children the United States
• Involvement of local/state authorities in imimgration enforcement
o Obama: Strengthened the Secured Communities program, which began in October 2008 under President George W. Bush. The program is designed to remove undocumented immigrants who are arrested for serious offenses and pose a danger to U.S. citizens. It works by comparing the fingerprints of individuals arrested by state or local police with federal fingerprint databases, including Department of Homeland Security immigration records.
o Romney: As Massachusetts governor, authorized state police to assist the federal government in immigration enforcement.
o Obama: 360,000 persons deported from the U.S. in 2011; 1.5 times more deportations than during George W. Bush’s second term in office
o Romney: Would encourage undocumented immigrants to self-deport
• Undocumented workers
o Obama: Favors holding accountable those employers who deliberately hire and exploit undocumented workers
o Romney: Favors a mandatory employment verification system for employers to use in order to check whether their employees are registered as having authorization to work
Sources: L.A. Times, “Deportations of illegal immigrants hit record high, officials announce,” October 6, 2010; Daily Caller, “New documents reveal Obama administration ‘cooking the books’ to achieve record deportation numbers,” August 24, 2012; The New York Times, “Program Tracks Arrests in Group of Immigrants,” July 31, 2012; The Washington Post, “Obama is deporting immigrants faster than Bush. Republicans don’t think that’s enough,” August 27, 2012; www.mittromney.com; www.barackobama.com.