As the elections are coming, many of my clients are extremely nervous as the next president will have a very real impact on their or their loved-ones’ lives. My advice to each person seeking legal status in the United States is to act in any way possible now. Even if the petition would take years before becoming current, submit it now. It is very likely that petitions submitted now will be grandfathered after laws change, thus keeping your options open.
As an immigration attorney, I deal with immigration law and its consequences every day. What many of these candidates propose simply would not work. Some of the proposals would have far-reaching and destructive consequences. Some wish to try policies that have failed in the past and some, like Martin O’Malley, want to create a separate agency dedicated to creating and “make recommendations to Congress” for new immigration policy. Haven’t we seen enough horrible policy come from government agencies? These decisions and debates belong exclusively in congress after full debate and bi-partisan cooperation. Many of the other candidates have very vague policies published, or none at all.
Here are the basic points I am looking for from a candidate:
1) Donald Trump
A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.
2) Ben Carson
“The American people should not be manipulated into believing that they are heartless simply because they want to preserve the rule of law in our nation and look after their own before they take in others," he wrote "We also have to consider the millions of people who have immigrated here legally as well as those who are in the queue. It is incredibly unfair to them to grant amnesty to those who have jumped ahead of them in line illegally." "People already here illegally could apply for guest-worker status from outside of the country," Carson wrote in November. "This means they would have to leave first."
Source: National Journal 2016 series: Republicans on immigration , Feb 23, 2015 as quoted by http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Ben_Carson_Immigration.htm
3) Carly Fiorina
I think we have to secure the borders, something that hasn’t happened under Republicans or Democrats. It’s not rocket science to do it, we just haven’t done it, northern borders and southern borders. I think we need to fix the legal immigration system, which has been broken for decades under both Republicans and Democrats. We talk about it, somehow it never get’s done. We have sixteen different visa programs. We don’t have a verifiable employer system that could be used. Half the people who are here illegally came here on a legal visa, we just never bothered to follow up. But, those who came here illegally, and stayed here illegally, I think they may earn legal status over time, but not citizenship becauseI know too many people, as do you, who worked to earn the right of citizenship, the privilege of citizenship, and I think we’re fair-minded people.
4) Marco Rubio
We have a broken enforcement system on immigration. We have a legal immigration system that's outdated and needs to be modernized so we can win the global competition for talent. We have millions of people living in this country illegally, many of whom have been here for a decade or longer. We need to find a reasonable but responsible way of incorporating them into American life. Last year we tried to do that through a one-size-fits-all comprehensive approach; it didn't work. We don't have the support for that. The only way we're going to be able to address it--and I believe we should--is through a sequence of bills that begins by proving to people that illegal immigration is under control, modernizing our legal immigration system and then dealing with those who are here illegally.
Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Sep 7, 2014 , as quoted by http://www.ontheissues.org/International/Marco_Rubio_Immigration.htm
5) Jeb Bush
A great nation must secure its borders for national security and public health reasons. We don’t have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on fencing when we can use new technology, improve the Border Patrol’s access to streams and rivers on the border, beef up our patrols and adopt sensible policies like e-Verify at workplaces across the country.We must find a practical solution to the status of the 11 million people here illegally today. We need a vigorous path to earned legal status where people are required to learn English, pay a fine and taxes, pass a criminal background check, work and not receive federal government benefits.
1) Hillary Clinton
The American people support comprehensive immigration reform—not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it strengthens families, our economy, and our country. Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship, treats every person with dignity, upholds the rule of law, protects our borders and national security, and brings millions of hardworking people into the formal economy.
2) Bernie Sanders
Sign comprehensive immigration reform into law to bring over 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows. We cannot continue to run an economy where millions are made so vulnerable because of their undocumented status. Oppose tying immigration reform to the building of a border fence. Undocumented workers come to the United States to escape economic hardship and political persecution. Tying reform to unrealistic and unwise border patrol proposals renders the promise illusory for millions seeking legal status.
3) Joe Biden
Joe Biden is third place in the poles, but he isn’t running yet.
4) Jim Webb
The immigration debate is divided into three separate issues. How can we secure our border? What should we do about the 11 million undocumented workers? And, lastly there is the guest worker question. It is necessary to separate out the 3 issues. Approaching the issue using an omnibus bill that attempts to solve all 3 issues simultaneously creates a political stalemate that delays the border security solution. Once the border is secure we can develop a fair solution to other immigration issues. Source: New York Times Election Profiles , Oct 8, 2006 as quoted by http://www.ontheissues.org/International/James_Webb_Immigration.htm
5) Martin O’Malley
O’Malley will commit the resources needed to modernize and strengthen the border while respecting the rights of border communities. O’Malley will ensure that our border is secure through the strategic use of personnel and technology, extensive training and support for immigration officers, and policies that address the root causes of migration.
O’Malley will call for a reform bill to create a new, independent body housed within the executive branch. The agency will make recommendations to Congress regarding immigration levels and visa requirements. The recommendations would be based on rigorous and non-partisan analysis and market needs – supplying additional H-1B visas, creating new visas to attract and retain foreign innovators, establishing protections for workers, and complimenting and upholding the American workforce.
I have tried to represent each candidate equally, though equal information is not available from each candidate.
After careful consideration, I do not hesitate to say that, as an immigration advocate and as a concerned citizen, I support Marco Rubio. While there is not more published from him in this article than from any other candidate, I would strongly encourage any reader to look more into Marco Rubio’s stances on immigration and all other policies.