Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Guest blogger: Gabriela Garcia, first-year law student, University of San Francisco
According to the PewResearch Center there are approximately 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. President Obama has been unable to get Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. While President Obama has put a band-aid on the issue of immigration through executive action on June 15, 2012, granting a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), there has not been a more permanent solution. The executive action taken by President Obama cab be continued after his presidency or can be terminated by the next elected president. The future of many undocumented immigrants is uncertain and will not become clearer until the November 2016 elections. The top four candidates remaining have different ways of approaching the issue of immigration reform; depending on who wins, undocumented immigrants will be greatly affected.
After the New York primary, Clinton now has 1,930 delegates including 502 superdelegates. This puts her as the lead Democrat candidate. If she wins, according to her website, Clinton will support comprehensive immigration reform that creates a path for citizenship. Clinton’s website also claims she will defend Presidents Obama deferred action program. Additionally, Clinton will end family detention and close private immigration centers. From the point of view of a pro-immigrant this is a good idea because many families are placed in jail like conditions. While the Clinton campaign seems to be very pro-immigrant, there is not much details about what her plan would be to ensure that reform is passed.
Sanders has won 1,189 delegates including 38 superdelegates. According to the numbers so far Sanders, seems to have a lower chance of becoming the next President. However, if he does win, his policy on immigration also creates a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. On Sanders website, one of the immigration changes he proposes is to give visas to those workers who denounce employer abuses. This proposition on its face seems similar to the POWER Act that would grant U-Visas for workers who denounce employment violations. One point in the Sanders website that is not listed under Clinton’s page is finding a way to allow those who were wrongfully deported to come back to the U.S. and reunite with their families. Sanders also seems to want to tackle the immigration problem from the root when he talks about looking at trade agreements and making changes. Many people migrate to the U.S to have a better life and there is a big chance that they would not do so if they could live a comfortable life in their own countries.
Trump has won 845 delegates. If he wins the race and becomes the next President of the U.S., his website says that he will build a wall to keep immigrants out. Trump argues Mexico should pay for the wall to be built, because they are encouraging their citizens to come to the United States. The pamphlet on his website is dated 2005. He fails to acknowledge that, according to the Pew Research Mexican findings, undocumented immigration from Mexico has dropped to record lows. If elected, Trump would take actions to deport immigrants and prevent undocumented immigrants from continuing to stay in the country. Moreover, he claims that if elected President he will end birthright citizenship for children born to undocumented parents. The forecast for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. seems very dark and foggy if Trump is elected President. According to his stands it seems that even if an immigration reform bill were to pass Congress, he would not sign it unless it had extreme border security measures.
Cruz has won 559 delegates, putting him in second place among Republican candidates. While most things proposed by Cruz are about enforcement, he seems to be promoting the idea of having immigrants with a very exclusive background. His website claims that he would prioritize persecuted religious minorities while putting on hold H1 visas to give priority to Americans to compete for jobs. Cruz has a specific set of people he is willing to admit because of their religious beliefs, rather than because of humanitarian reasons. Cruz is not in favor of allowing in Syrian refugees because he believes they are a treat to the national security. His agenda seems to be rather contradictory.
For pro-immigrant advocates and undocumented immigrants, the idea of a Republican candidate winning the Presidential race is scary. However, even with a Democratic President, the chances of immigration reform passing are not guaranteed since the cooperation of the House and Senate is necessary. Nevertheless, the chances of undocumented immigrants being able to remain in the country would be much higher if a Democrat wins the White House again.