“Talking Heads” is an ongoing dialogue among campus political groups that serves as an open forum for discussing major national issues. All political groups are welcome to participate in a respectful manner that is representative of their party’s platform. Each edition of The Point News will feature a new topic of discussion. This edition’s topic is immigration. Responses were provided by Brendan Benge of the College Democrats (D), Peter Vicenzi of the College Republicans (R), and Charles Hutchinson of the College Libertarians (L).
TPN: How does your party feel about the United States’ current policies on immigration, and what policy changes should be made (if any)?
D: Democrats and Republicans agree that our current immigration system is broken. We have 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country who break their backs every day in order to make a better life for themselves and their families, yet these individuals must hide their legal existence from the government out of fear of deportation…Accordingly, we Democrats, joined with many of our Republican allies on the issue of immigration, are fighting to bring undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows and into the sunshine,” to quote one champion of undocumented immigrants, President Ronald Reagan. Specifically, we hope to see a path to citizenship established for any current undocumented immigrant who has worked hard and played by the rules so that they might have a share in the endless promise of our country. Additionally, regarding future immigration, Democrats hope to see an increase in the number of legal immigrants we allow into our country, particularly focusing on issuing more visas to the highly-skilled engineers, software developers, IT specialists, and others from all around the world who have powered America’s technological revolution in Silicon Valley.
R: The Republican Party believes that the Chief Executive of the United States should strive to enforce the existing immigration laws and that illegal immigration poses a national security threat. The United States must eliminate all federal funding for sanctuary cities that harbor illegal immigrants and continue to deport criminal illegal immigrants. Additionally, blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants is unfair to the millions of people who wish to legally immigrate to the United States each year. Furthermore, the United States should implement a visa tracking system… The nation must focus on serious immigration reform— proposals for Mexican-funded walls are to be ignored.
L: The United States’ current immigration laws prevent true economic freedom—the freedom of labor, capital, and individuals to move freely in and out of the country….Many Libertarians, however, support open-borders only in the absence of a welfare state. The reason for this is simple: If the United States government offers free benefits to those who choose to migrate to our country, then people are not going to come to the country to work, but to reap the benefits of the welfare state…However, there are many Libertarians that support amnesty, despite the existence of the welfare state, for the 11 million undocumented immigrants that already live within the country. Additionally, most Libertarians support current vetting programs to ensure none of the undocumented migrants or refugees that choose to settle within the country present a credible threat to the natural rights of our citizens.
TPN: A commonly voiced concern, especially in times of high unemployment, is that immigrants are taking jobs that would otherwise be filled by US citizens. To what extent does your party share this concern and/or what should be done to address this fear?
D: The Democratic Party categorically rejects any scapegoating of immigrants…That being said, Democrats also recognize these anti-immigrant prejudices did not just appear in a vacuum…As a result, we as Democrats believe the best answer for how to expel the growing anti-immigrant mentality in our country is to make our government work for the people again. Through government policies aimed at strengthening opportunities for the vast majority of Americans, such as providing debt-free higher education, expanding Obamacare, growing middle class tax breaks, overturning Citizens United, and much more, we can reaffirm our commitment to opening up prosperity for all of our people. Accordingly, by committing to greater opportunity for all Americans, our elected leaders can eliminate the toxic idea among some that immigrants are stealing the few opportunities available in our country today.
R: This statement is true to some extent; however, the demand curve for labor is not vertical. The Republican Party believes that immigration policy should serve the best interest of American workers. Therefore, the United States should pursue policies that protect both naturally born citizens as well as legal immigrants.
L: The Libertarian party understands that there is no credible evidence that supports the notion that immigrants steal American jobs. Libertarians realize that by bringing in skills, capital and labor that did not exist before, migrants actually make life more prosperous for all Americans. Indeed, study after study has come to the same conclusion: Migrants increase the job prospects of Americans workers. A study of census data by the Urban Policy Institute, for example, suggests that undocumented immigrants actually increase wages and the job opportunities for documented/native workers. Therefore, Libertarians are unconcerned about the apparently “detrimental” effects of immigration on the economy. The truth is, most of these fears are nothing but pure fiction.
TPN: What is your party’s take on the security implications of immigration-tolerant policies?
D: Immigration does not endanger the security of American communities. For example, over the last few decades, our country has seen a flood of new immigration, yet crime rates have plummeted to record lows. In fact, a lengthy study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group which staunchly opposes new immigration to the U.S, concluded, “There’s no evidence that immigrants are either more or less likely to commit crimes than anyone else in the population”. On the other hand, what does endanger the security of our communities is keeping undocumented immigrants already living here in fear of deportation if they report a crime to the police. Frequently, undocumented immigrants are terrified of working with the police in case their legal status is exposed, causing them to be forcibly removed from their families and homes. …Take the example of Dayton in 2013, when an undocumented immigrant was savagely beaten within an inch of their life, but still implored the people who found them to not call the police. Therefore, to create a more secure society, so that victims such as this Dayton man never feel threatened by talking with the police again, Democrats, along with many Republicans, are fighting to ensure we afford full legal protections to every undocumented immigrant living in America.
R: The Republican Party believes that there are significant security risks associated with policies that tolerate illegal immigration. Outside terrorist groups seek to exploit our broken immigration system in order to enter the United States illegally. So long as illegal immigration continues, American citizens are at risk.
L: Libertarians do not believe that bringing refugees and immigrants into the country compromises national security, and there are many statistics that back this assertion. The Cato Institute, a prominent Libertarian think tank, for example, has calculated that the chances of being killed by a refugee terrorist are only 1 in 3.6 billion….Moreover, regarding undocumented migrants, the Center for Migration Studies, a think tank that promotes stronger border polices, concedes that there is “no evidence” that migrants commit, on average, more crimes than United States citizens. Since migrants and refugees pose no existing threat to the countries existence, the government should secure the rights of these people and allow them to live within the United States.
TPN: What rights and protections should be afforded to undocumented immigrants? To their children born in the United States?
D: We need to provide the undocumented immigrants already living in this country with a path to full citizenship…As the gigantic Baby Boomer continues to age, the government programs we have to support our elderly people, Social Security and Medicare, are quickly becoming unaffordable. Consequently, by spending more money on Social Security and Medicare, all other programs, such as student loans for higher education, infrastructure spending, defense spending, and more, will eventually lose funding or be cut altogether. However, immigrants represent a young and growing population base for our country that can partially offset any future problems we will have with an aging population. Accordingly, we must give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and their children full rights to citizenship so that we can ensure the financial security of our country into the future.
R: Several United States Supreme Court rulings have upheld that the 14th Amendment—specifically the “Equal Protection Clause”—applies to undocumented immigrants. The children of undocumented immigrants are United States citizens, also a provision of the 14th Amendment. It is the duty of the federal government to abide by the laws of the United States. For this reason, the Republican Party finds it disturbing that President Obama has failed to faithfully execute his duties as Chief Executive. For the past eight years, President Obama has neglected to properly enforce existing statutes regarding immigration law. At the same time, President Obama has repeatedly issued executive orders granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, regardless of their past. Executive orders such as these are not only unconstitutional, but an insult to all who wish to legally immigrate to the United States.
L: Libertarians believe that people are born with certain unalienable, fundamental rights, and that all governments should protect these rights – whether these people are undocumented immigrants or not. However, Libertarians are divided on whether government benefits should be afforded to undocumented immigrants. Many Libertarians tend to advocate for complete amnesty of undocumented migrants, while others support amnesty only if those migrants are exempt from receiving government benefits. Children born in the United States by undocumented immigrants, however, should be considered full citizens, and should be afforded all the benefits and protections afforded to every citizen of the country.
Stay tuned for the next installment of “Talking Heads” when the topic will be climate change.