Presidential Candidates' Differing Positions on Immigration

Liliana Henao
Comprehensive immigration reform, more border security and self-deportation are some of the terms used when talking about the controversial issue of illegal immigration in the United States. With the clock ticking until the next presidential election, both candidates have to clarify their specific plans to bring an estimated 11 million of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.

They sparred about it in their second debate, but while President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, believe the U.S. immigration system must be reformed, they don’t agree on how to achieve that.

"I will not grant amnesty to those who’ve come here illegally, what I will do is I’ll put in place an employment verification system and make sure that employers that hire people who have come here illegally are sanctioned for doing so," said Romney.
Katherine Vargas, Director of Communications with the National Immigration Forum, says the Republican candidate has not been specific.
"He says he’s pro-immigration solutions but we don´t know what type of solutions. Self-deportation is not a solution, is simply make life as hard as possible for immigrants so they return to their countries. We know that he supports permanent residency for foreign students that graduate with science and technology degrees, but we don´t know what he´s going to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are currently in the country," said Vargas.
Governor Romney has also been criticized for changing or softening his position on immigration. 

“He has basically said that he favors congressional action, that he will take up immigration legislation if he’s president, that he will resolve the circumstances of the people that are in the Dream Act population, with legislation and a more permanent solution, but then, when he’s pressed on the issue, he is not in favor of any kind of permanent legal status for people who are here, even in the Dream Act circumstance, he has said, only if they enlist in the military," said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow with the Migration Policy Institute.

President Obama, who gained the support of most of the U.S. immigrant population in the 2008 election, has been criticized for not fulfilling one of his campaign promises: to present a comprehensive immigration reform bill during his first year in office.

"What President Obama is saying is that he is four square in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, in other words, a generous package that combines enforcement measures with the possibility of legal status for the unauthorized population that's in the United States," said Meissner.

“But even so we haven´t seen details on how he´s going to accomplish that because he also promised it during his first presidential campaign, the most important thing we need to know is how he will win the Republican support, because he needs those Republican votes to have a comprehensive immigration reform bill approved," said Vargas.

At the second presidential debate,  Obama defended his record.

"If we’re going to go after folks who are here illegally we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students," said Obama.

Regardless of any changes in Congress, analysts some believe that the sharply opposing views of the candidates offer little hope of significant changes in U.S. immigration policy after November 6.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs