Obama vs. MCain – Immigration

By Vidya Pradhan 

Despite the usual campaign rhetoric on immigration reform, both candidates this year are in favor of bringing in skilled workers to remedy the shortage in the US. Here are Barack Obama and John McCain on immigration.

Barack Obama


•    Create Secure Borders -supports additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry.
•    Improve Our Immigration System -increase the number of legal immigrants to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill.
•    Remove Incentives to Enter Illegally by cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.
•    Bring People Out of the Shadows- supports a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.
•    Work with Mexico -do more to promote economic development in Mexico to decrease illegal immigration.

•    Support the DREAM Act for the children of illegal immigrants. (Jan 2008)
•    Support granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. (Nov 2007)
•    Voted YES on continuing federal funds for declared "sanctuary cities". (Mar 2008)
•    Voted YES on comprehensive immigration reform. (Jun 2007)
•    Voted NO on declaring English as the official language of the US government. (Jun 2007)
•    Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border. (Sep 2006)
•    Voted YES on establishing a Guest Worker program. (May 2006)
•    Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security. (May 2006)
•    Voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship. (May 2006)
•    Comprehensive immigration reform without amnesty. (May 2005)
•    Sponsored bill paying fair prevailing wage to guest workers. (May 2006)
•    Provide funding for social services for noncitizens. (May 2006)

On his position on immigration -“The time to fix our broken immigration system is now… We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace… But for reform to work, we also must respond to what pulls people to America… Where we can reunite families, we should. Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should”. US Senate floor, May 2007.

On deporting illegal immigrants – “(The American people) recognize that the idea that you're going to deport 12 million people is ridiculous, that we're not going to be devoting all our law enforcement resources to sending people back.” Feb 2008.

On the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), which gives undocumented young people a chance to earn U.S. citizenship by going to college or enlisting in the military – “We should not punish undocumented children who were brought to this country illegally through no choice of their own by keeping them in the shadows. The DREAM Act would have given these young people the opportunity to earn a degree or serve in our military, and eventually become legalized citizens. Failing to pass the DREAM Act only compounds the immigration crisis by continuing to drive thousands of young people every year into hiding.” October 2007.

On his health care plan covering illegal immigrants – “It does not. We've got limited resources. When we've got millions of citizens that aren't yet covered, it's important for us to make sure that they are provided coverage.” January, 2008

On increase in H1B visas – “We can … go a long way toward meeting industry’s need for skilled workers with Americans. Until we have achieved that, I will support a temporary increase in the H-1B visa program as a stopgap measure until we can reform our immigration system comprehensively. I support comprehensive immigration reform that includes improvement in our visa programs, including our legal permanent resident visa programs and temporary programs including the H-1B program, to attract some of the world’s most talented people to America.” November 2007.

John McCain

•    Securing Our Borders First. John McCain's top immigration priority is to finish securing our borders in an expedited manner.
•    Prosecute “Bad-Actor” Employers – will implement a secure, accurate, and reliable electronic employment verification system to ensure that individuals are screened for work eligibility in a real-time fashion.
•    Meet America’s Labor Needs – will implement temporary worker programs that will reflect the labor needs of the United States in both the high-tech and low skilled sectors while protecting the employment opportunities for US workers.
•    All undocumented individuals will be required to enroll in a program to resolve their status.
•    The program will also ensure that all undocumented aliens either leave or follow the path to legal residence.
•    Eliminate the Family Backlog.  John McCain will commit to clearing out the backlog of individuals that are waiting legally outside of the country.

•    Voted on Senate floor in favor of amendment to create a disincentive to apply for amnesty Sen. McCain voted in favor of the Cornyn Amendment (SA 1250) to S. 1348.(2007)
•    Voted on Senate floor against amendment to bar certain criminals from amnesty Sen. McCain voted against the Cornyn Amendment (SA 1184) to S. 1385(2007)
•    Voted on Senate floor in favor of motion to reward illegal aliens with amnesty.(2007)
•    Voted YES on comprehensive immigration reform. (Jun 2007)
•    Voted YES on declaring English as the official language of the US government. (Jun 2007)
•    Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border. (Sep 2006)
•    Voted YES on establishing a Guest Worker program. (May 2006)
•    Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security. (May 2006)
•    Voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship. (May 2006)
•    Voted YES on allowing more foreign workers into the US for farm work. (Jul 1998)
•    Voted YES on visas for skilled workers. (May 1998)
•    Voted YES on limit w
elfare for immigrants. (Jun 1997)
•    English immersion over bilingual education. (Jul 2001)
•    Sponsored comprehensive immigration reform, without amnesty. (May 2005)

On his position on immigration –“I don't want to fail again to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. We must prove we have the resources to secure our borders and use them, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States. When we have achieved our border security goal, we must enact and implement the other parts of practical, fair and necessary immigration policy. We have economic and humanitarian responsibilities as well, and they require no less dedication from us in meeting them." Campaign website.

On deportation of illegal immigrants – There are 2 million people who are here who have committed crimes. They have to be rounded up and deported. We're all basically in agreement there are humanitarian situations. It varies with how long they've been here, et cetera. We are all committed to carrying out the mandate of the American people, which is a national security issue, which is securing the borders- Republican debate, January 2008.

On supporting immigration legislation in 2006 that included amnesty provisions – "Amnesty is forgiveness. This is payment of a fine. This is admission of guilt. … This is earned citizenship, that's what it is." March 2006.

On changing his position on combining border security efforts with a temporary worker program – "I said, OK. We'll secure the borders, but after we secure the borders, we'll have a temporary worker program, we'll have to address the 12 million people here illegally, and I think the best way is the proposal that we had. It's not a switch in position. I support the same solution. But we've got to secure the borders first." November 2007.

On the DREAM Act – When asked if he would support the DREAM act at the La Raza Q &A he replied, “Yes.” July 14th, 2008. However, when the National Review asked McCain about the Dream Act, McCain said, “I would have voted against it. I have said a thousand times, I have heard the message from the American people.”

On increase in H1B Visas – Could not find a statement from the candidate on the subject.

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