Immigration Political Scorecard

Hat-tip to Lindsay: Amy Taylor of DMI Blog reports the position of each American Presidential candidate on immigration so that you don’t have to. I’ve only read the positions of the six serious candidates – honestly, Tom Tancredo’s position doesn’t matter since even if he wins the primary, he’ll lose the general by a Goldwaterian margin – but they don’t sound that different from one another.

All candidates, except possibly Romney, say they support giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, after they pay a fine. They differ on the details somewhat, but the differences are small. On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is the most restrictive that’s acceptable in American politics (e.g. Tancredo) and 10 is the most permissive (e.g. Kennedy), I’d say the gamut ranges from 5 to 9. And, mind you, the scale could easily expand; a Le Pen-style racist would be about a -5, while I’m about a 20.

Clinton follows her husband in being a hardliner on enforcement issues; she supports a mandatory ID card as a means of cracking down on illegal immigration. At the same time, on welfare-related issues she’s consistently taken a pro-immigrant stance, cosponsoring an act that would consider long-term residents who are in the US illegally as legal permanent residents and supporting a bill that would grant them in-state tuition (7).

Obama supports tough enforcement and in fact broke a promise not to vote for any enforcement-oriented bill that did not include a legalization component. In addition, he supports a guest worker program, but at the same time acknowledges its shortcomings and proposed an amendment that would require employers to pay everyone the prevailing wage regardless of immigration status (7).

Edwards talks about immigration as a labor issue, as he does on all other issues. He publicly rejected the notion that illegal immigrants suppress American workers’ wages. He also supports unionization as a means of helping illegal immigrants. On the other hand, he’s far vaguer than even Obama, and tends to underplay the issue (7).

Giuliani has repeatedly praised immigrants’ economic contributions. As Mayor of New York, he opposed an anti-immigration bill in 1996; more recently, he supported the more conciliatory Senate immigration bill over the punitive House version. On welfare his record is mostly positive; he had the City sue the federal government to restore welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. On the other hand, he has an anti-immigrant record on language issues, including bilingual education, and talks about the issue in terms of security just like Edwards does in terms of labor (8).

McCain clearly distinguishes between people who overstay their visas and terrorists. Together with Ted Kennedy, he introduced the conciliatory Senate bill mentioned above. He’s against the security fence, but prefers alternative high-cost gadgets to seal the US-Mexico border. Speaking to the AFL-CIO, he said that illegal immigrants take jobs Americans don’t want (9).

Romney supports the fence, and as Governor of Massachusetts supported requiring local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. He has said nothing about issues like a guest worker program or a path to citizenship. Conversely, he supports increasing the rate of legal immigration, which the US throttles (5).

10 Responses to Immigration Political Scorecard

  1. muppt says:

    lots of secret Mossad agents mixed in those illegal immigrants.

  2. Ran Halprin says:

    The problem with giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, is that is encourages breaking the law. It will surely make the illegal immigrant flow rise dramatically.

    When considering what the law should be, whatever positive values it represents, you can’t just ignore its real world consequences.

  3. SLC says:

    1. The favorite fascist c***sucker Glenn Beck was at it again last night with his diatribes against illegal immigrants. He make Tancredo look like a moderate.

    2. Apparently, Israel has a similar problem with non-terrorist Palestinians sneaking across the border to find work in Israel. Apparently, due to pressure from employers, the border guards there react much like the INS here and ignore the illegals.

  4. John says:

    Columbia University, where free speech on the topic is fine, if the speech is something the students agree with.

    The city of Los Angeles (where I live) is falling apart because of illegal immigration. Gangs are running wild and are filled with illegal immigrants. Prisons are filled with illegal immigrants. Police just cracked down on the top gang in Los Angeles. 12 of the 17 thugs they arrested were illegal immigrants. Along with law abiding citizens we are getting some of the worst people in the world with our open border policy. Los Angeles is falling apart and most of the city is a 3rd world nation because of Illegal Immigration.

  5. Alon Levy says:

    John, that’s quite a lurid description of LA. Too bad crime has been mostly going down in the last two years at least (for some reason LAPD doesn’t give data going back to 1990 the way NYPD does).

    Ran, you’re only looking at one possible effect of giving long-term illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Others include making it harder for employers to exploit them. It’s impossible to deport illegal immigrants as it is; the political science literature’s consensus is that increasing border patrols will only increase the number of illegal immigrants, by inducing seasonal migrant workers to move to the US permanently. So the choice isn’t between 12 million illegal immigrants and zero, but between 12 million illegal immigrants in poverty and 12 million legal immigrants out of it.

  6. John says:

    Alon –
    The LAPD just claimed a few weeks ago that downtown Los Angeles had the lowest crime rates since they have kept track, from around 1941. Anyone with any common sense who walks around downtown los Angeles would find that pretty hard to believe. A huge amount of property crime never goes reported as there is absolutely no chance anything will be done about it.

    Bookmark this and take a look at it throughout the year to see how well things are going in LA.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/homicidereport/

  7. Alon Levy says:

    John, nationally the reporting rate for all crimes is trending up. Nonetheless, underreporting is a real problem, which is why I only use homicide data. The NCVS has a feature about the survey crime rate in NY, LA, and Chicago, but the sample sizes are way too small; the NCVS has a sample size of about 75,000, of whom only 750 live in LA, translating to 16 victims of violent crime every year under the (wrong) assumption that LA has the same violent crime rate as the US.

  8. John says:

    Alon, Yes, crime stats can be sliced many different ways to come up with what ever you want to come up with. One of the main points of my original post is that illegal immigration is a huge problem in los Angeles in the area of crime. The gangs in LA are loaded with illegal aliens. Illegal immigration is a huge contributor to crime in LA (and other areas of the nation) and nobody wants to discuss it for fear of being called a racist. With a system in place where we have no idea who is crossing our borders, we are getting good people as well as the worst of the worst.

    BTW – Just posted on the latimes website.

    Mar 3, 2007 1:01 pm US/Pacific

    Man Fatally Shot In Gang-Related Ride-By Shooting
    (CBS) LOS ANGELES A 19-year-old man was killed in a gang-related ride-by shooting, authorities said.

    The victim was standing around 7 p.m. in the 1000 block of Pecan Street when the gunman rode up and fired a shot into the victim’s chest, said Los Angeles Media Relations Officer Norma Eisenman.

    The victim was taken to a hospital where he died, Eisenman said.

  9. Alon Levy says:

    And one of the main points in mine is that it’s impossible to control immigration. It’s mainstream enough that it makes almost every political science or political research textbook: harsher immigration restrictions increase the level of illegal immigration.

    That said, if things in LA (and for that matter San Diego) were that bad, you’d expect the homicide rate to be going up instead of down.

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