Background on Immigration
2014-16 Election Immigration Issues
2012 Election Immigration Issues
- Border Fence: Dealing with the Mexican border provides a primary difference between Democrats and Republicans in the 2016 election. Republicans (and some moderate Democrats) call for building a fence; progressives oppose it as just another form of devaluing Mexicans. Building a fence is more about politics than about construction logistics; focusing on the construction aspects implies support for overriding the political difficulties.
- Anchor babies: Opponents of illegal immigration decry foreigners who travel to the United States while pregnant, have a child in the U.S., and then use that child's citizenship to get the rest of the family into the U.S. This law is based on the 14th Amendment, which says that any person born in United States territory is automatically a citizen. It was passed after the Civil War to ensure citizenship for all former slaves.
- Talking about immigrants means talking about Latinos: half of all immigrants today are from Latin America. And talking about immigrants means talking about the Latino vote: 70% of Latino voters supported Obama in the last election. The most important demographic is that Latinos make up 17% of the voting population now, but that will rise to 29% by 2050.
- Latinos support immigration reform (and in particular, amnesty) with the same lopsided support with which they support Democrats: over 70% favor amnesty.
- The Latino vote will become increasingly determinative of future election results, which is why Republicans are so actively recruiting Latino candidates (for example, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL), to try to switch the current party loyalty.
- Comprehensive reform is a politicized buzzword that means �provide amnesty and citizenship benefits for illegal immigrants already here, while securing the border and prosecuting illegal employers against new illegal immigration.� Opponents of comprehensive reform would prefer a piecemeal approach: their buzzword is �secure the border first,� before dealing with any benefits or any other issues.
- President Obama in late 2014 issued an Executive Order deferring deportation of five million illegal immigrants who came to America as minors (known as DREAMers, for the DREAM Act). Opponents claim Obama unconstitutionally bypassed Congress. Supporters claim that Congress failed to pass comprehensive reforms for years, so Obama had to act unilaterally.
- Anti-immigration advocates often seek Official English status (the US has no official language), which would enforce assimilation of non-English speaking immigrants. Similarly, anti-immigration advocates seek to terminate Bilingual Education, which is currently funded in school systems with large non-English-speaking populations.
- The "Simpson-Mazzoli Act" refers to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, was the immigration reform supported by President Reagan. Its opponents claimed that it granted amnesty in exchange for tightening immigration law, but that the tightening never occurred while the amnesty did.
- In April 2010, the state legislature of Arizona passed a law, S.B. 1070, which allowed state police to check for legal papers of people suspected of being illegl immigrants.
- Proponents say that the AZ law only enforces federal law in a circumstance where the federal government has failed to enforce its own law.
- Opponents say that the AZ law constitutes "racial profiling", and targets Latinos and especially Mexicans.
- The author of the AZ law, State Senate President Russell Pearce, was subjected by the people of his legislative district to a recall vote as a result of the AZ law, and lost his seat in Nov. 2011.
- The US admits about 660,000 legal immigrants per year (1998 figures).
- The Immigration Act of 1990 allows for 480,000 immigrants with family in the US; 140,000 immigrants in needed employment fields; and the rest under per-country limits and diversity limits.
- Foreign-born people accounted for 8% of the US population in the 1990 census; in the decades prior to 1930, the figure was 13%.
- About 5 million illegal aliens reside in the US (1996 figures).
- 55% of all illegal aliens come from Mexico. (Other Latin American countries account for another 20%).
- 40% of all illegal aliens live in California. (TX, NY, FL, and IL account for the next 40%).
- The illegal alien population is growing by about 275,000 each year.
- The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) runs the Border Patrol as well as interior enforcement.
- Pro-immigration advocates sometimes accuse anti-immigration advocates of racism, because of the large Hispanic component of current immigration.
In that view, immigration restrictions are seen as limiting growth of the Hispanic population.
- Anti-immigration advocates often seek Official English status (the US has no official language), which would enforce assimilation of non-English speaking immigrants.
Similarly, anti-immigration advocates seek to terminate Bilingual Education, which is currently funded in school systems with large non-English-speaking populations.
- The biggest components of the immigration debate is how many legal immigrants to allow, and how to prevent illegal immigration.
- Liberals and libertarians generally oppose restricting immigration. Look for buzzwords like "promote diversity" to define the liberal attitude, or "we're a nation of immigrants" to define the libertarian attitude.
Any reference to providing illegal immigrants with services beyond emergency medical treatment, or any reference to "clemency" for illegal immigration, implies a strong pro-immigrant stance.
- Moderate liberals and libertarians will oppose restricting immigration while paying lip-service to restrictions on illegal immigration. Look for buzz-phrases like "promote immigration, block illegal immigration" and "separate the functions of the INS and the Border Patrol," which mean the same thing.
- Conservatives and populists generally favor restricting immigration. Look for buzzwords like "protect our borders" or "strengthen the INS".
A call for "Official English" is a strongly anti-immigration stance, because most immigrants are from non-English speaking countries. That's the same attitude as "End bilingual education," which focuses primarily on Spanish-speaking immigrants.
- Moderate conservatives and populists will favor restricting illegal immigration while paying lip-service to allowing legal immigration. The result is the same as moderates in favor of immigration: calls for separating out legal immigration from illegal, but with a focus on enforcement against illegals instead of a focus on respecting immigrant rights.
- H-1B Visas refer to visas for "specialty occupations."
Generally, H-1B visas are issued in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or other professional services.
H-1B visa holders are non-residents but may apply for permanent green cards.