Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Exclusive Interview With Senator Barack Obama

160pxobamabarackWe are very pleased to post an exclusive interview with Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill), one of the candidates vying for the Democratic Presidential nomination. We prepared a list of questions for Senator Obama on a range of difficult immigration issues, including immigration reform, undocumented immigration, family immigration, local (anti-)immigration ordinances, the U.S. government's treatment of Elvira Arrellano, integration of immigrants into U.S. society, the deaths along the U.S./Mexico border, and his vote in favor of the Secure Fence Act. Readers will find that Senator Obama's responses made for an interesting dialogue!  For Senator Obama's official position statement on "Immigration and the Border," click here.

We have been in contact with the campaigns of several other 2008 Presidential candidates.  We hope that other candidates will be willing to answer the same questions that we posed to Senator Obama.

The Candidate: Barack Obama is the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois and the only African American currently serving in the U.S. Senate. Born to a Kenyan father and a white American mother, Senator Obama lived much of his childhood in Hawaii; he spent four of his pre-teen years in Indonesia.  He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. At Harvard, Senator Obama was the first African American President of the Harvard Law Review, one of the leading law reviews in the United States.

Before running for office, Senator Obama worked as a community organizer and civil rights lawyer. He served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, launching his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2003.   He delivered a much-heralded keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention (click here for a video of the first part of that speech). Obama went on to win election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004, garnering 70% of the vote. He announced his candidacy for President in February 2007.

Senator Obama has authored two books: a memoir entitled Dreams from My Father, and The Audacity of Hope, a commentary on U.S. politics.

For his official campaign bio, see here. The official Obama '08 — BarackObama.com website can be found here. His U.S. Senate office is here.

The Interview: Here (Download senator_obama_interview.pdf) are the questions that we posed to Senator Obama about immigration and his responses.  The questions are in bold type and Senator Obama's responses are in regular type.

We trust that you will find the dialogue of interest.

Jennifer Chacón, Bill Hing, and Kevin Johnson

Disclaimer: All three of us have served as members of an Immigration Policy Group for the Obama campaign. We drafted the questions as a group and did not play any role in formulating the responses.


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» ImmigrationProf Blog interview with Obama from yave begnet
ImmigrationProf Blog has posted (pdf) Obama’s answers to questions on immigration. . . . If these immigration experts have decided to throw their lot in with Obama—which I don’t know for certain—I can’t blame them. I think he is the frontrunner with... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 27, 2007 7:55:46 PM


So Obama's answer to "What will you do about" X is, "I will fight to change" X. Not exactly the kind of specifics that one would hope.

Posted by: Simon | Sep 25, 2007 5:25:48 AM

I support him but wish he was a little more brave with his responses.

Posted by: Justin | Sep 25, 2007 8:08:59 AM

I thought his answers were specific enough, it's not like he was writing a policy paper. Most of all, I think he is right in honoring the immigration heritage of this country. It's terrible when people like Bill O'Reilly forget where they came from and what their forefathers went through to get here. Obama offers solutions that are politically viable, and has shown, time and time again, that he is on the side of protecting people who risk everything to become a part of this country. He has always emphasized the importance of education, and I think that's the best way for the Latino community to move forward. He wants to fix a broken system, and it is obviously one of his priorities.

Posted by: Ruben | Sep 25, 2007 8:49:59 AM

Could you guys and gals learn Russian and then pick up some old copies of Pravda? Because, these are Pravda-level questions.

If you wanted to conduct a real interview, you would have stopped at the first answer and then torn it apart. For instance, the claim that we can't deport the "12 million" is highly misleading.

There are probably more than 12 million, and we might not be able to deport all of them tomorrow, but enforcing our laws could result in a significant portion deciding to leave on their own.

I'll just stop there and wonder why, if you wanted to conduct a real interview instead of a Pravda-style interview, you didn't ask him about that point.

I think I know the reason: the questions were submitted via email and were most likely answered by a staffer. And, if you'd called him on his BS the staffer would have broken off communication.

Please decide whether you want to do real reporting or whether you just want to be partisan hacks.

Posted by: TLB | Sep 25, 2007 11:02:59 AM

Profiling citizenship for academic and technological merit would be ideal. Throwing out the illegals, restoring construction wages, allowing local enforcement would all be ideal. Think we can waltz into any old country and make enough to send home. And what about that corrupt Mexican Government? Compassion has it's limits. I support Obama as President but on immigration we need to be a bit more draconian.

Posted by: jdr | Sep 25, 2007 11:49:47 AM

TLB: These questions are as good as any traditional journalist would present to any politician so where is the partisanship?

Posted by: Justin | Sep 25, 2007 11:52:05 AM

JDR: Odds are that you are lucky your ancestors weren't treated with the same sentiment. You would likely not even be here now. Your sentiment is the same sentiment people have been crowing since the late 1800's and America did just fine by ignoring them for the most part. Though there was a very restrictive period in the early 1900's when folks who think like you won out and, if you aren't aware of this, the economy didn't fare so well until the restrictions were lifted.

Posted by: Justin | Sep 25, 2007 11:54:48 AM

An immigration system that ignores family ties and is entirely class-based would not do justice to the principles of American democracy. "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" right? Or maybe we should have been more selective with the Irish in the 1800's? Frankly, I don't think someone who comes to this country and works for less than minimum wage is much of a criminal.

And it's not much of a secret that our economy would not do quite as well without these laborers...

Posted by: Ruben | Sep 25, 2007 1:40:55 PM

"These questions are as good as any traditional journalist would present to any politician so where is the partisanship?"

I suppose if you have no concept of adversarial questioning designed to reveal the flaws in someone's argument then you could consider the questions in the PDF and the questions from the MSM acceptable; they definitely are comparable but that doesn't make either acceptable.

I am apparently the only blogger who actually has experience asking non-nice questions designed to make someone look as bad as possible. Either that, or questions like these are setups.

Here's an example of a real question: youtube.com/watch?v=T5Dp7FaKIJo

Posted by: TLB | Sep 25, 2007 1:41:21 PM

Middle America gets squeezed by outsourcing. Trades by cheap labor. Mom and pop by box stores. Mexicans by corruption. When will we talk about Americans rights. I guess as long as we shop in big box stores, hire amigos and buy the cheapest imports we get what we pay for. Just remember, the middle class is good for business and the middle class is good for America.

Posted by: jdr | Sep 25, 2007 3:58:08 PM

What about backlogs for legal, skilled, employment based immigrants? What does he propose we do about that? I'd ask him what he thinks about country quotas for skilled immigrants -- what do skills have to do with the country of origin? It is illegal for the employers who are hiring these skilled workers to discriminate based on the country of origin (after they have established no American worker is available for the job), yet the Federal government effectively invites them to discriminate since irrespective of qualifications, how soon you can hire a skilled worker permanently depends on the workers country of origin.

I hope follow up questions are a possibility.

Posted by: Wildfire | Sep 25, 2007 7:21:04 PM

I am apparently the only blogger who actually has experience asking non-nice questions designed to make someone look as bad as possible.

This is your conception of journalism? Making the interviewee look as bad as possible? What happened to finding out the facts?

Posted by: yave begnet | Sep 25, 2007 8:00:47 PM

'Though there was a very restrictive period in the early 1900's when folks who think like you won out and, if you aren't aware of this, the economy didn't fare so well until the restrictions were lifted.'

I assume you're referring to the 1930's. Are you contending the Great Depression ended because 'restrictions when were lifted'? Did you know that after the Depression ended we also had low immigration right up through the 1965 Act? You know, that terrible economic period known as the the post-war boom.

Posted by: Jack | Sep 26, 2007 1:47:51 AM

P.S. When was this interview? I thought the Elvira answer sounded familiar and it is word-for-word what was blogged here on August 20.

Posted by: Jack | Sep 26, 2007 2:11:52 AM

Barack Obama has expressed his legal opinion and knowledge of this subject better than any other candidate. He has a greater understanding of how immigration reform needs to be done in order to protect families and country.

I support Obama's passion to get this country running on all gears in a legal and respectful manner that doesn't run over civil rights and state rights.

Posted by: Susan | Sep 26, 2007 10:14:15 AM

While Mr. Obama states that we are a nation of laws and immigrants, it is the former that gives legitimacy to the process of establishing naturalization and immigration. The law is the chicken and the egg is the immigration/naturalization omlette, not the other way around. Illegal immigration is the egg gone rotten, a dish most unpaletable to most Americans.

Posted by: Horace | Sep 27, 2007 3:39:14 PM

Congratulations to Barack Obama on winning the Presidency of the United States of America! This was a historic win.

Posted by: Obama Fan | Nov 7, 2008 10:32:21 AM

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