(Photo: Reuters / Gael Gonzalez)
Editor's note: In this series comparing the positions of both major party presidential candidates on a range of issues, each candidates platform will be described using information from the candidate's themselves, mostly from the candidate's websites. A candidate's description of their opponent's position will not be used. In describing the candidate's position, The Christian Post does not attest to the facts stated as part of the position.
In the presidential race, both candidates, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, believe the immigration system is broken and in need of reform. Both candidates also share some goals on how to reform the system. There are many differences as well.
The immigration debate contains two main centers of emphasis. One is border security – whether and how to prevent unauthorized immigrants from entering the country. The other is what to do about the unauthorized immigrants who are already in the country – this could include creating a path to citizenship or increasing deportations.
Using his authority as president, Obama decided this year that the Justice Department would no longer deport unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the country as minors, have no criminal record, and have graduated from high school, obtained a GED or served in the military. This executive decision is based upon the DREAM Act – a law passed in some states that failed to pass in Congress. Obama says he will continue to push for passage of the DREAM Act if elected to a second term.
Obama further emphasizes that he is focusing enforcement of immigration laws on immigrants who endanger communities and de-emphasizing enforcement on "low-priority cases," such as "students, veterans, seniors, and military families." He also proposes allowing unauthorized immigrants who are married to, or children of, a citizen or permanent resident to stay in the country while they apply for permanent residency status.
As president, Obama has increased deportations of unauthorized immigrants. According to PolitiFact, looking at the average number of deportations per month, Obama has deported more immigrants than any other U.S. president. This fact, however, is not touted on the Obama campaign website.
Obama also says that he will make "comprehensive immigration reform" a priority if elected to a second term. "Comprehensive immigration reform" means that both sides of the immigration debate – border security and a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants – will be included in a single piece of legislation.
Romney tends to emphasize border security and an immigration system that will benefit the economy.
To secure the borders, Romney wants to complete the construction of a high-tech fence along the Southern border with Mexico. He says he wants enough officers for border security, but does not specify if more, or how many, officers might be needed. Additionally, he wants to improve the "exit verification" system to make sure that immigrants do not overstay their temporary visas.
To retain skilled workers, Romney proposes offering permanent residency status to foreign students who obtain an advanced degree in math, science or engineering at a U.S. university.
For industries that need and use temporary workers from outside the United States, Romney wants to reform the temporary worker visa system by removing requirements that slow the process of obtaining the visa.
To discourage immigrants from entering the country, or staying in the country, without proper documentation, Romney would like to develop an improved employment verification system for employers to ensure that they are not hiring unauthorized immigrants. During the race for the Republican nomination, Romney argued that there would be no need to increase deportations of unauthorized immigrants because implementing a functional employment verification system would make it difficult for them to find a job and they would "self deport."
Romney also opposes "magnets," or benefits, for unauthorized immigrants that he believes encourages immigrants to enter the country without authorization. When he was governor of Massachusetts, he vetoed a bill that would allow in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants and opposed driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.
Romney does not support the DREAM Act, arguing that it too would be a "magnet" for unauthorized immigrants. He does, however, support one small part of the DREAM Act – he believes that unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the country as minors and have served in the military should be given permanent residency status. Romney has also said he would not, if elected, revoke the visas of those who obtained residency through Obama's "Dream" decision.