Election issue profile: Immigration
Over the next six weeks, the Forum section will be profiling the most pressing economic, political and social issues of the 2016 presidential race. We will examine the views of the top three candidates: Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson and Donald Trump—to give students an inside view on who and what we will be voting for (or against) in the upcoming election.
Immigration is a hotly debated topic among people who like to pretend they didn’t come to this country as immigrants in the first place. Its controversy is almost funny, considering we live in a country whose history was written by immigrants—like, criminal immigrants who raped, plundered and spread disease among the Native Americans (you know, the Americans) at a much higher rate than the immigrants Donald Trump likes to warn us about. But I digress.
When we talk about immigration, we are specifically talking about border restrictions, paths to citizenship and how to handle those who are already here undocumented (which becomes much more complicated when many of those people have been in the United States for years, and may have children born on U.S. soil). Realistically, immigration is a complicated, multifaceted issue with a lot of moving parts to consider but tends more regularly in this election to devolve into a tirade of racist insults, generalizations and prejudice. Let’s see what the Three Stooges think.
On Clinton’s website, she notes that America “is a nation of immigrants, and we treat those who come to our country with dignity and respect—and that we embrace immigrants, not denigrate them.” A touching, idealistic though. How does it match up with her plans?
Clinton’s immigration reform plan can be summed up by two motives: keep families together and make it easier for undocumented immigrants to become citizens. She also wants to get rid of three- and 10-year bars. Oh, but wait, what are those?
Here’s a scenario for you: You’re here illegally, because for whatever reason, you have the opportunity to live a better life (or to provide a better life for your family) in America than you do in your home country. But you don’t want to wait years for that to happen. You’ve been here for 200 days, and you decide to leave the country to apply for a green card and immigrate the legal way. You would think that you would be rewarded for trying to go about this legally. But because you were illegally in the United States for over 180 days, you can’t come back. For three years. If you stayed in the U.S. undocumented for more than a year, you have to wait 10 years. Yes, that’s a real thing. Clinton wants to get rid of that.
Clinton also plans to support President Barack Obama’s plan to keep around 5 million immigrants from being deported—specifically, families and/or immigrants who do not have any felony convictions. She wants to encourage undocumented immigrants to seek out a legal path to citizenship by increasing services for integration and naturalization. She also wants to get rid of private immigration detention centers—essentially for-profit purgatories where undocumented immigrants can be kept for months, even if their only crime is being in the country.
As far as border security goes, Clinton wants to protect U.S. borders (has a candidate ever actively said they don’t?), but doesn’t really go into specifics about how to do that.
Immigration is the chestnut of Donald Trump’s campaign—that is, getting rid of it. “Make America Great Again” by literally walling off the Mexican border and making Mexico pay for it (Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto didn’t seem particularly amused by that proposal). It would cost anywhere from $5.1 billion to $25 billion. Because immigrants are stealing our jobs and ruining the economy.
We are talking specifically about Mexican immigrants, by the way. Trump seemingly has no plans to build a wall on our Canadian border. Canada, however, may want to consider building its own wall, seeing as a lot of people from both parties are considering moving to the land of Drake and maple syrup if Trump becomes president.
People often struggle to see beyond the wall, but Trump has made some blatantly unconstitutional proposals. Namely, he has said that he wants to end birthright citizenship, even though the 14th Amendment clearly states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.” But none of this is racist, right? He’s just being logical. Because he loves Mexicans. Even though, according to Trump, Mexico is not sending us its “good people” but rather its “rapists.” Never mind that evidence has been found to support the idea that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than citizens who are born in the U.S.
Uncle Gary’s views on immigration are sweet, but almost even more vague than Trump’s. The majority of the text concerning immigration on his website seems to speak more against Trump’s idea for a wall than it actually speaks about practical solutions or policy. “Candidates who say they want to militarize the border, build fences and impose punitive measures on good people, ground their position in popular rhetoric, not practical solutions,” the page reads, but offers very little in the way of those practical solutions.
Johnson essentially wants to make it easier to obtain visas and encourage undocumented immigrants to pay taxes and assimilate. How? If the polls change a lot in the next few weeks, or if both major party candidates implode, I guess we will have to wait and see for future President Johnson to tell us.
Who has the most experience in the field?
Well, Gary Johnson was the governor of New Mexico from 1995 until 2003, so…that’s on the border, a little bit, I guess. Donald Trump has…been out of the country. Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, and can probably name a foreign leader or 10. Oh, and she has dealt with, co-written and voted on numerous immigration reform bills during her time in the U.S. Senate. But, you tell me.
Best late-night moment?
Once again, it’s going to be John Oliver, on Trump’s fetishization of walls. Because we only watch John Oliver.