Immigration is a hot button topic on the campaign trail this season, and presidential hopefuls have devoted a significant amount of time trying to woo voters on the issue — and for good reason. A recent CNN/ORC poll rated illegal immigration as one of the most important issues in the election, with eight percent of voters citing it as their top priority. Republicans like Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) have put together bold, contentious plans like building a wall on the border and deporting undocumented workers, thereby offering the most strict immigration policies of the election season.
By contrast, Democratic challengers Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have offered alternatives like a pathway to citizenship for those individuals, thus presenting plans that are much more friendly to those seeking residency in the United States.
Least Immigration-Friendly Presidential Candidates
As previously stated, presidential hopefuls Donal Trump and Ted Cruz have taken a firm position on immigration and their proposed policies have framed themselves as the least immigration friendly candidates.
Donald Trump is arguably the least immigration-friendly candidate, and has made comments such as his labeling of people illegally in the country as “killers” and “rapists,”and his promise to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. “Public reports routinely state great amounts of crime are being committed by illegal immigrants,” Trump wrote in a statement.
To that end, Trump’s official immigration platform mandates the building of a wall and the enforcement of laws “passed in accordance of our Constitutional system.” He also promises to prioritize American jobs and wages by controlling the flow of foreigners into the country.
Trump insists he’ll build a wall on the border, despite push back from former Mexican president Vicente Fox. While Fox has said he’s “not paying for that f*cking wall,” Trump fired back at a CNN/Telemundo Network debate in February, saying, “The wall just got 10 feet taller.” The candidate also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a trade war with Mexico to force that country to pay for the structure.
Enforcement of Laws
Trump proposes tripling the amount of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to implement the law, and promises a “deportation force” to remove those not lawfully in the country.
He is vowing as well to end birthright citizenship — a right guaranteed by the Constitution — for children of illegal immigrants.
Improving Jobs, Wages, Security
Trump’s website states, “The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans – including immigrants themselves and their children – to earn a middle class wage.” Therefore, the candidate says we need to control the amount of lower earning immigrants entering the country, and instead raise wages paid to H-1B guest workers; he believes this will force companies to consider hiring people already in the country instead of “flying in cheaper workers from overseas.”
Like Trump, Ted Cruz is proposing policies that would tighten security on America’s southern border and “restore the rule of law” by putting a stop to Obama administration actions that granted amnesty to some undocumented immigrants. Cruz recently summarized his position on CBS’ Face the Nation, saying, “We’ll build a wall, we’ll triple the border patrol. We’ll put in place strong e-verify, the workplace. We will end sanctuary cities by cutting off federal taxpayer funds. We will end welfare for those here illegally, and we’ll enforce the law.”
Legal Immigration Reform
Cruz also wants to reboot the legal immigration system by suspending the issuance of H-1B visas, or guest worker visas, for 180 days to investigate abuses in the system, citing “appalling abuses of the H-1B visa program.” This comes on the heels of a bill he coauthored with Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that tightened restrictions on the program in an effort to incentivize employers to hire American workers.
Moreover, he hopes to halt any increases in legal immigration “so long as work-force participation rates remain below historical averages,” and to bar immigrants from collecting any benefits from government-subsidized programs.
Finally, like Trump, he supports ending birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants.
Most Immigration-Friendly Presidential Candidates
As opposed to their Republican counterparts, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have taken a more pro-immigration stance and their proposed policies being to the public have garnered them attention as being the most immigration-friendly candidates.
Unlike her Republican rivals, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton hopes to offer a pathway to citizenship for
undocumented workers currently in the country, writing on her website, “[W]e can’t wait any longer, we can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship.” She promises a process that “treats every person with dignity, upholds the rule of law, protects our borders and national security, and brings millions of hardworking people into the formal economy.”
Private/family detention centers
While more than half of those detained currently are held at private facilities, Clinton says the privatization of this system may lead contractors to over-incarcerate. She believes the government is the better and more reliable provider for this function.
Clinton also promises to end detention of families who arrive at the border, opting instead for alternatives like supervised release.
Defending and expanding Obama executive actions
As a senator, Clinton co-sponsored the DREAM Act, legislation that granted constitutional residency to children of undocumented workers in the U.S. While the bill failed to pass the Senate, President Obama took executive action to stop deportation of these individuals and their parents. Clinton now is vowing to uphold the president’s decree.
Bernie Sanders’ immigration plan mirrors Clinton’s in many respects: he supports a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, backs President Obama’s executive actions pertaining to DREAMers and their parents, and backs the closure of private and family detention facilities.
On visa reform, Sanders supports fundamental reform of the visa system that is intended to protect guest workers and their families from abuse. He says, “Binding workers to a specific employer or not allowing their family members to work creates a situation rife for abuse and exacerbates an already unequal relationship between the employer and the employee.” He also supports raising pay for guest workers, a move supported in kind by some of his Republican rivals; this could improve the standard of living for these workers, but also may encourage employers to hire Americans rather than lower-cost foreign workers. This follows legislation Sanders supported as a senator to limit the hiring foreign workers using H-1B and L-1 visas in an effort to protect American workers.
Sanders proposes expanding the reach of the Affordable Care Act, and making it available to all immigrants, including those eligible for deferred action under the DACA and DAPA programs.
Sanders believes resources should be used to modernize the border and protect local communities, thus repairing crumbling infrastructure and securing the border in a “fair and humane” way.
KPPB Law Provides Professional Legal Immigration Services
To learn more about U.S. visas and the immigration process, and to take advantage of our array of immigration services, please contact KPPB Law online or call directly at (703) 594-4040.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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