On his campaign website, President Barack Obama describes Governor Mitt Romney as “the most extreme nominee in modern history on immigration issues,” while Romney’s campaign says the Obama adminstration is too lax on immigration policy enforcement.
The crux of the issue is how to interact with undocumented immigrants already residing in the United States — primarily, as of late, those who came not of their own volition.
These are people who came to the U.S. as children and have adopted the country as their home, but who lack the paperwork to declare themselves as citizens or legal residents.
In June of this year, Obama issued an executive order titled, “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” This allows undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria to apply for a two-year period of deferred action, meaning no move will be taken to deport them during that time frame.
Individuals must have come to the U.S. before they were 16; resided in the country for more than five years; have completed high school, be enrolled in high school, or have served in the military; have no criminal record; and not be a threat to national security.
Obama pursued this executive order as a step toward fulfilling the DREAM Act, legislation that has yet to pass in Congress since being first introduced in 2001.
Romney has said he would not continue this executive order once he was in office, but would not repeal it for those who already applied. Nor would he work to pass the DREAM Act.
Romney’s stance is that the DREAM Act and Obama’s executive order are a form of amnesty, encouraging undocumented immigrants rather than discouraging unlawful behavior, and giving them advantage over immigrants seeking to enter the country legally.
The Obama campaign has criticized Romney for this position, latching onto the phrase “self-deportation” that Romney uses to describe the choice undocumented immigrants will have to leave the country or remain as he establishes more stringent laws.
The Obama campaign website calls this “inhumane.”
Both candidates agree on the need to secure the borders and prevent businesses from hiring undocumented immigrants. In addition, they both agree that the visa system requires reform to allow temporary seasonal workers and to encourage highly skilled immigrants to come to the U.S.
Matthew Soerens ’06, U.S. Church Training Specialist for World Relief, spoke in a discussion at Wheaton College titled “The Vote, the Earth, and the Immigrant,” on Monday, Oct. 29. Soerens’ work at World Relief involves explaining immigration from a biblical standpoint to churches.
In the discussion, Soerens cited passages from the Old and New Testament that describe hospitality and helping immigrants who are in need. He said there is a need to make it harder to immigrate illegally, but at the same time, immigrating legally needs to become an easier process.
One of the best ways to learn about the immigration issue, Soerens said, is to get to know an immigrant.
Photo Courtesy: Kevin Coles
Printed in the November 2, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.