You could be forgiven if you don’t know where the candidates stand on immigration. With the financial market meltdown in full swing and a full-blown media circus surrounding $150,000 shopping sprees and fair-weather fans, the press hasn’t had much time to talk about immigration. The Brookings Institution has published this fact sheet comparing the candidate’s plans that is worth reading.
So where do McCain and Obama stand on important features of immigration reform? As it turns out, despite what the ads would have you believe, not too far apart.
- The Border Fence – Both candidates voted in 2006 to approve the border fence with Mexico.
- Guest Worker Program – McCain cosponsored a bill with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) to create a guest-worker program and registry. Obama also supports a guest-worker program. He stated on the floor of the Senate:
“Illegal immigration is bad for illegal immigrants and bad for the workers against whom they compete.
Replacing the flood of illegals with a regulated stream of legal immigrants who enter the United States after background checks and who are provided labor rights would enhance our security, raise wages, and improve working conditions for all Americans.
But I fully appreciate that we cannot create a new guestworker program without making it as close to impossible as we can for illegal workers to find employment. We do not need new guestworkers plus future undocumented immigrants. We need guestworkers instead of undocumented immigrants.”
- Path to Citizenship – A hot button issue, but one on which both candidates agree. John McCain took some heat from his own party for his views on providing a path to citizenship; recently, he has started to back away from his earlier support of the issue. Obama has stated his support for a pathway to citizenship, including including in an interview with Larry King in 2007.
- Worker ID Cards and Employment Eligibility Enforcement – Both candidates favor requiring employers to verify a worker’s status before employment. McCain has promoted the use of tamper-proof ID cards. Obama has supported the use of fines on employers who fail to check a worker’s status.
- Admission – Both candidates espouse the importance of considering family relationships in determining who is admitted. McCain has also promoted the use of skills or education criteria in deciding who to admit to the country.
- Higher Education – You might find it hard to belive, but they were actually cosponsors of a bill that would allow States to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
Despite the rhetoric and deceptive campaign ads from both sides, there are more similarities than differences between Obama and McCain on immigration reform.