Immigration is one of the most important issues in the presidential election this year. Both candidates, Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney, have different approaches and visions to solve our broken immigration system. The question then becomes, which candidate is a better choice to fix our broken immigration system? The answer is quite simple. In the context of the immigration issue, neither President Obama nor Governor Romney is the best choice to lead our nation. Here’s why.
During the 2008 presidential election campaign, Democratic Party candidate Obama promised to introduce and pass comprehensive immigration reform by the end of his first term in office. However, as president, he did not introduce such a bill. He also promised to pass different legislation such as the DREAM Act. Four years later, he still has not delivered his promises.
Even worse, President Obama has deported about 1.4 million undocumented immigrants, tearing apart families and hurting innocent people. This increase in deportations was a result of notorious programs like “Secure Communities,” which requires the sharing of fingerprints at the point of booking by local or state law enforcement with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Though the “Secure Communities” program was designed to target the most dangerous criminals to be removed from this country, about 70% of the deported are non-criminals or individuals who committed only minor crimes. Furthermore, some individual police officers abuse their powers through racial profiling by falsely arresting or overcharging undocumented immigrants, and sometimes U.S. citizens, who would then be deported.
To be fair, President Obama made an announcement on June 15, 2012, to stop deportation and provide work permits to a select group of DREAMers who meet requirements under a new immigration policy, known as Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA). Though this policy would benefit thousands of young DREAMers, President Obama’s actions were largely motivated by political incentives. President Obama could have introduced DACA in his first term of presidency, but he waited until the election year. That’s not the type of leadership that we want from the president.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, lacks clarity on immigration issues. As Romney is famously known for flip-flopping on policy issues, he surely flip-flops on immigration policy as well. First, Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act during the primary election. But once he got nominated as a Republican candidate, he said he would support a partial component of the DREAM Act, which allows certain individuals to pathway to legalizations if they serve in the military. This is just one of many examples from Romney’s ambiguous stance on immigration policy issues. Sadly, this would only make him an untrustworthy candidate.
Furthermore, Romney embraces the nation’s toughest immigration law, Arizona’s SB1070. SB1070 is a controversial law because it gives tremendous power and authority to state police officers to ask about immigration status of any persons if they have a reasonable suspicion that the individual is an undocumented immigrant. In other words, state police officers are trained to be Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents to detain and deport immigrants. Similar to the “Secure Communities” program, SB1070 results in racial profiling and discrimination against certain targeted individual groups. Someone who advocates for this policy would make our immigration system move backward, not forward.
Worst of all, Romney would address “illegal” immigration problem by self-deportation. During a debate in the primaries, he stated, “…The answer is self deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here.” Simply by looking at his stance on immigration, it is quite clear that he does not understand immigration issues nor does his statement exhibit empathy for the experiences of hard-working immigrants.
Clearly both candidates are not the best choice to fix our broken immigration system. But either way, we have to choose a president this upcoming November. Though electing the “right” president is important, the most important part of the democratic process is active engagement from the people. That’s why we need to continue to organize, mobilize, and take collective actions to make our voices heard, and send a clear message that we want fair and humane comprehensive immigration reform. With our collective voice and effort as a movement, no matter who gets elected, we can work with the President to solve our immigration system.