Very Different Party Platforms on Immigration

I am disheartened to read the Republican platform, presented yesterday at their Convention. In the area of immigration, once again, the party has shown their temperment, short-sightedness, and intolerance. I am even sorrier to see that the man who was once a champion of Immigration Reform, John McCain, is either not strong enough to stand up to the radical party base, or doesn't want to. It is telling that the section on immigration in the RNC platform is under "Defending Our Nation, Supporting Our Heroes, Securing the Peace" - again implying that 1) all immigrants are undocumented, and 2) all immigrants inherently pose some sort of danger, grasping at the irrational fear that's intended to move everday Americans to hate immigrants of all colors and creeds and to support the conservative base. But I shouldn't be surprised by the offensive nature of the RNC platform, after all, just today, in trying to "appeal" to Hispanic voters, Sen. McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis said that Republicans had to offer this demographic something "other than a deportation center" - but if he's appealing to Hispanic voters, his comment is pretty offensive - equating all the undocumented with Hispanics, and all Hispanic voters with the undocumented.

By contrast, the DNC platform includes immigration under the section entitled "Renewing the American Community," and is more concerned with modernizing and correcting the underlying flawed immigration system than with demonizing immigrants; more concerned with working with the countries of origin of immigrants and dealing with the causes of immigration than with building porous walls. The RNC platform tries to argue that Americans favor a mass deportation - that is not at all the case. Polling data consistently shows that American's favor a solution to the immigration issue at a federal level in the form of smarter laws, legalization for the undocumented, and smarter enforcement, not in the form of intolerance.


"Defending Our Nation,

Supporting Our Heroes, Securing the Peace

Immigration, National Security, and the Rule of Law

Immigration policy is a national security issue, for which we have one test: Does it serve the national interest? By that standard, Republicans know America can have a strong immigration system without sacrificing the rule of law. Border security is essential to national security. In an age of terrorism, drug cartels, and criminal gangs, allowing millions of unidentified persons to enter and remain in this country poses grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people. We simply must be able to track who is entering and leaving our country. Our determination to uphold the rule of law begins with more effective enforcement, giving our agents the tools and resources they need to protect our sovereignty, completing the border fence quickly and securing the borders, and employing complementary strategies to secure our ports of entry. Experience shows that enforcement of existing laws is effective in reducing and reversing illegal immigration. Our commitment to the rule of law means smarter enforcement at the workplace, against illegal workers and lawbreaking employers alike, along with those who practice identity theft and traffic in fraudulent documents. As long as jobs are available in the United States, economic incentives to enter illegally will persist. But we must empower employers so they can know with confidence that those they hire are permitted to work. That means that the EVerify system-which is an internet-based system that verifies the employment authorization and identity of employees-must be reauthorized. A phased-in requirement that employers use the E-Verify system must be enacted.

The rule of law means guaranteeing to law enforcement the tools and coordination to deport criminal aliens without delay - and correcting court decisions that have made deportation so difficult. It means enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas, rather than letting millions flout the generosity that gave them temporary entry. It means imposing maximum penalties on those who smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S., both for their lawbreaking and for their cruel exploitation. It means requiring cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement and real consequences, including the denial of federal funds, for self-described sanctuary cities, which stand in open defiance of the federal and state statutes that expressly prohibit such sanctuary policies, and which endanger the lives of U.S. citizens. It does not mean driver's licenses for illegal aliens, nor does it mean that states should be allowed to flout the federal law barring them from giving in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, nor does it mean that illegal aliens should receive social security benefits, or other public benefits, except as povided by federal aw. We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people's rejection of enmasse legalizations is especially appropriate given the federal government's past failures to enforce the law.

Embracing Immigrant Communities

Today's immigrants are walking in the steps of most other Americans' ancestors, seeking the American dream and contributing culturally and economically to our nation. We celebrate the industry and love of liberty of hese fellow Americans. Both government and the private sector must do more to foster legally present immigrants' integration into American life to advance respect for the rule of law and a common American identity. It is a national disgrace that the first experience most new Americans have is with a dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy defined by delay and confusion; we will no longer tolerate those failures. In our multiethnic nation, everyone - immigrants and native-born alike - must embrace our core values of liberty, equality, meritocracy, and respect for human dignity and the rights of women. One sign of our unity is our English language. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America. English empowers. We support English as the official language in our nation, while welcoming the ethnic diversity in the United States and the territories,including language. Immigrants should be encouraged to learn English. English is the accepted language of business, commerce, and legal proceedings, and it is essential as a unifying cultural force. It is also important, as part of cultural integration, that our schools provide better education in U.S. history and civics for all children, thereby fostering a commitment to our national motto, E Pluribus Unum. We are grateful to the thousands of new immigrants, many of them not yet citizens, who are serving in the Armed Forces. Their patriotism is inspiring; it should remind the institutions of civil society of the need to embrace newcomers, assist their journey to full citizenship, and help their communities void patterns of isolation.

Welcoming Refugees
Our country continues to accept refugees from troubled lands all over the world. In some cases, these are people who stood with America in dangerous times, and they have first call on our hospitality. We oppose, however, the ranting of refugee status on the basis of lifestyle or other non-political factors."


Renewing the American Community


America has always been a nation of immigrants. Over the years, millions of people have come here in the hope that in America, you can make it if you try. Each successive wave of immigrants has contributed to our country's rich culture, economy and spirit. Like the immigrants that came before them, today's immigrants will shape their own destinies and enrich our country.

Nonetheless,our current immigration system has been broken for far too long. We need comprehensive immigration reform, not just piecemeal efforts. We just work together to pass immigration reform in a way that unites this country not in a way that divides us by playing on our worst instincts and fears. We are committed to pursuing tough, practical, and humane immigration reform immigration reform in the first year of the next administration. For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law. We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens. They are our neighbors, and we can help them become full tax paying, law-abiding, productive members of society.

Atthe same time, we cannot continue to allow people to enter the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. The American people are welcoming and generous people, but those who enter our country's borders illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of the law. We need to secure our borders, and support additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry. We need additional Customs and Border Protection agents equipped with better technology and real-time intelligence. We need to dismantle human smuggling organizations, combating the crime associated with this trade. We also need to do more to promote economic development in migrant-sending nations, to reduce incentives to come to the United States illegally. And we need to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants, especially those who pay their workers less than the minimum wage. It's a problem when we only enforce our laws against the immigrants themselves, with raids that are ineffective, tear apart families and leave people detained without adequate access to counsel. We realize that employers need a method to verify whether their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S., and will ensure that our system is accurate, fair to legal workers, safeguards people's privacy, and cannot be used to discriminate against workers.

We must also improve the legal immigration system, and make our nation's naturalization process fair and accessible to the thousands of legal permanent residents who are eager to become full Americans. We should fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy that hampers family reunification, the cornerstone of our immigration policy for years. Given the importance of both keeping families together and supporting American businesses, we will increase the number of immigration visas for family members of people living here and for immigrants who meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill, as long as appropriate labor market protections and standards are in place. We will fight discrimination against Americans who have always played by our immigration rules but are sometimes treated as if they had not.