Monday, January 28, 2008

The Politics of Dancing: Democratic Presidential Candidates Go in Different Directions on Immigration and Immigrant Policy

160pxobamabarack 160pxhillary_rodham_clinton As Super Tuesday gets closer, Sen. Barack Obama seeks to woo California Latinos, where he is running 3-to-1 behind rival Sen. Hillary Clinton.  He is spotlighting his support for the red-hot issue of granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and has obtained the endorsement of the state champion on the issue, State Senator Gil Cedillo

Hillary Clinton stumbled into that minefield on the driver's license issue in a debate last fall and quickly backed off. Some might say that Clinton flip-flopped on the issue.  First, she suggested a New York proposal for driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants might be reasonable. Then she denied endorsing the idea, and later came out against them. Her current position, according to California campaign spokesman, is that she "believes the solution is to pass comprehensive immigration reform."

According to the S.F. Chronicle, "Barack Obama has not backed down" on driver's licenses for undocumented people, said Federico Peña, a former Clinton administration Cabinet member and Denver mayor now supporting Obama. "I think when the Latino community hears Barack's position on such an important and controversial issue, they'll understand that his heart and his intellect is with Latino community." 

In endoring Obama today, Ted Kennedy spoke about the essential role he played in drafting the last immigration reform bill, and Obama spoke about how his father's journey to the United States on a student visa due in part to a student exchange initiative introduced by JFK to bring Kenyans to the U.S. to study.

in contrast, the N.Y. Sun reports that immigrant-rights advocates and some Latino leaders are voicing concern at Senator Clinton's campaign-trail rhetoric about swiftly deporting immigrants with a criminal past. A vow to give the boot to criminal aliens has become an almost daily part of the New York senator's presidential campaign spiel on overhauling the immigration system.  Recall that, as President, Bill Clinton was especially tough on immigration, militarizing the border in a way that has caused thousands of deaths, signing punitive 1996 immigration reform immigration, and beginning the massive efforts to increase the deportation of "criminal aliens."  For a critical piece on the Huffington Post on Hillary Clinton's positions on immigration, click here.


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