The Next President: Immigration

It would be an overstatement to say that the next chapter will make sense of the 2016 presidential campaign. The next chapter will, however, contribute its own structured commentary as a framework for comparison of the candidates. Presidential campaigns start with a trickle of news as the candidates announce their intention to run, but long before election day arrives, the trickle grows to a flood of information, misinformation, emotional appeals and hype. The 2016 election is now approaching flood stage, and choppy waters lie ahead. As a navigational aid, the next chapter will keep its focus on six issues. This post introduces the first of the six focus issues.

The blog has a point of view, and the next chapter will disclose its own position on each issue. Throughout the campaign, the next chapter will comment on public statements made by the candidates on the issues, but the blog will not attempt to catalog each candidate’s position on every issue, nor will the blog be obliged to provide equal time to competing views. The blog will take note of candidates who fail to state a position these issues. The next chapter does not approve of the political strategy of saying little or nothing. Every candidate for president of the United States has an opinion—or should have an opinion—on each of these issues.

On immigration:

Do you favor immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship?

TNC’s take: The next chapter believes that immigration reform is needed to reverse the dismal history of error that began with the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. There should be a pathway to full citizenship for immigrants. In making judgments of what is “illegal,” we should weigh the extenuating circumstance of a fractured system that enticed people across the border to work for low wages but that inconsistently imposed visa quotas that failed to match the labor demands of US employers. The 11.3 million “illegal” immigrants have been punished enough by unfair and impractical immigration policies not of their making, and they should at last be authorized to remain here and, if they choose, become citizens.

The immigration issue exposes a clear division along party lines. Generally, Democrats favor a pathway to citizenship and Republicans do not. To distinguish themselves, candidates must step off of the party line and explain their positions. The next chapter’s focus issues are framed as questions that can be answered yes or no, but a yes or no answer is not sufficient and deserves little credit. Several candidates have spoken about the immigration issue in statements that venture beyond the standard slogans.

In 2013, Marco Rubio voted for the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744)—which included a path to citizenship–but Rubio has since renounced his support. Rubio now vaguely supports a future debate about citizenship… “in ten or twelve years.”

Jeb Bush recently said he supports a pathway to citizenship for “DREAM Act kids.” The DREAM Act was proposed legislation that died in the Senate due to a Republican filibuster in 2007, so, strictly speaking, there are no “DREAM Act kids,” Jeb Bush’s position is less than clear.

Bernie Sanders recently announced his support for the Justice Is Not for Sale Act. Among other things, the bill takes aim at the private incarceration industry and would eliminate the bed mandate. In an earlier post, I described how the “bed mandate” has spawned a booming industry built on a simple business model: provide a privately-operated immigrant incarceration service and get taxpayers to pay for it. The financial success of this industry depends on maintaining an immigration system that ensures a steady supply of non-convicted prisoners (also known as innocent people) who must be detained. The bed mandate is a federal law that requires the detention of not less than 34,000 immigrants at all times.

This is only a small sampling of what the candidates have said about the immigration issue. Later, the next chapter will revisit this issue as the candidates reveal what they are thinking.

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Some other stuff for later,

  • 82
    Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton made news last week (on Cinco De Mayo) while addressing a group of students at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, by declaring that she would “fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship.” She distinguished herself from the Republican candidates: “Today not…
  • 81
    This post follows Immigration Part 1: How Did We Get Here? and Immigration Part 2: Establishing Equity. Part 1 covers United States immigration policy and politics prior to 1965. Part 2 examines three decades of immigration legislation between 1965 and 1996 and the recommendations of two blue-ribbon commissions appointed to…
  • 78
    The next chapter is tracking six focus issues during the current presidential election process. Recently, TNC summarized the positions of the Democratic and Republican nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The views of the vice-presidential nominees about these issues—based primarily on statements they made prior to becoming nominees—will now be…

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