Immigration as political issue in the USA
Immigration, whether legal or illegal, is considered one of the political hot-button issues with both moral and economic implications. Immigration has become a major political issue in the U.S., particularly during the election periods. It is used to sway voters, and it can attract minority voters to align with a candidate who better articulates the immigration issue.
There have been several debates concerning the humane treatment of the immigrant population. Various American states have passed legislations while others are still pushing for laws that seek to discredit immigrants and immigrant rights. An example of the legislation is one in Arizona, SB1070. The state of Alabama has the strictest immigration laws in USA.
The laws are considered to be detrimental and a recipe for discrimination; some laws that have been blocked in other states are practiced in Alabama. Immigration is considered as a hot-button topic due to the large population of Hispanics, who have grown at an alarming rate, and they represent almost 4 percent of the total state population. Majorities of the Hispanics are considered to be illegal immigrants.
Since the time of the Bipartisan efforts in 2007, there has never been any step made to address the hot-button issue of immigration. Immigration has been a fodder for controversy and political debate, and it is considered as a fever for state and federal legislation. Immigration, tough and controversial is responsible for the growth of U.S., and it is similarly a recipe for conflict.
The country has been witnessing a surge in the number of immigrants, and it is estimated that the number of illegal immigrants superseded that of the legal ones. Immigration has been a dormant issue because various parties. The media or individuals are cautious about the divisiveness or the passion that it arouses (New York Times 1).
There has been a controversy between the federal government and the state and local government concerning who has authority over immigration matters. Those opposing the Alabama and South Carolina legislation argue that it will encourage racial profiling (Fletcher 1). In the United States of America, Mexicans top in the number of immigrants then followed by the Chinese and Indians in that order. Immigration is a hot topic in the politics of the United States of America.
It occupies front and the centre in run-up to all presidential elections, whether during the general elections or the primaries. Immigration in the USA is considered to be a primer on key issues, and it provides the basis to the argument that Democrats have a better approach due to how they handle immigration. Immigration has exceeded the economy, unemployment, bail outs and health care. It is one of the oldest and contentious topics that every presidential candidate promises to address.
The topic of immigration has created as well as sunk many presidential candidates since it is used to influence the swing vote. Immigration has pitted the state against the federal government due to the ambiguity on who should have authority over immigrations’ matters. This has led to court battles aimed at having a unanimous understanding and interpretations of the issues surrounding immigration.
Odilion Ramirez, while writing on the civilian news critically analyzed how immigration as a hot-button issue affects elections in the U.S. He analyzed immigration in the context of Mexico. He traced the genesis of the issue to the Bracero program that was implemented in the period between 1942 and 1960.
According to Ramirez, the period marked the beginning of emergence of the Mexican immigrants, and it associated it with the lack of labor force in the US and there was a need to bring the Mexicans to supplement the US labor force. Though it was considered a guest-worker program, it led to mass migrations. Upon the expiry of the guest program, the majority of the Mexicans opted to stay in the US illegally and some with their families.
The article traced the prevalence of immigration issue in 1980 when it escalated beyond control and it forced the president to sign the US Immigration News Reform and Control Act as a stop-gap measure. Among the features of the Act are better controls of the borders, heavy penalties for employees who knowingly contracted illegal immigrants and the legalization of the 3 million immigrants who were residences of the country prior to the period of promulgating the Act (Ramirez 1).
After the September 11 terrorist attack, a Department of Homeland Security was created and tasked with the duty to look into matters of immigration. The new department undertook raids and intrusions into the areas of immigrant population. There were also widespread and indiscriminate deportations, which destabilized family links.
There is another editorial in the Washington Post which undertook an analysis of how the law on immigration of the state of Alabama had crippled its farms. Farmers in the state of Alabama have been demonstrating against the state’s immigration law. They argue that the law is intended to compel illegal workers to work elsewhere. This according to them, will deprive them of cheap and steady source of labor and hence threatening their agriculture.
Another article on immigration as a hot-button topic in American politics was an article by Greg Bluestein concerning the intervention of the country regarding a federal immigration law in Alabama, that is threatening to drive away students from schools as well as migrant workers from farms and towns.
It is argued that the law was a recipe for discrimination, which might extent to legal citizens of similar origin as the immigrants. In the case, the US department of justice posited that the law was one of the most stringent measures on the country, and its implementation could lead to fallout since immigrants could flee to their countries of origin or other American states.
An advocacy group also filed another suit claiming that making the law as operational could throw Alabama into chaos. The Alabama law particularly threatened the Hispanic population, and it made them afraid of going to the work and afraid of sending their children to public schools (Bluestein 1).
According to an editorial on the New York Times, immigration and emigration are two issues that may likely be subject of presidential debates in the coming elections. Unlike how President Obama promised during his campaigns that he will settle the issue of immigration, he has enhanced deportations. This has angered the Hispanic populations.
The controversy regarding which body between the federal government and the state government has the overall authority over matters of immigration was demonstrated when the Obama administration blocked parts of the South Carolina law which sought to impose heavy penalties on all undocumented immigrants.
This was after the administration blocked legislation in Alabama. The South Carolina law was the product of the Republican controlled state-legislature. Among the previsions of the laws included the need for police to check the immigrant status of all people in the state, the law also made it a crime to transport or host an illegal immigrant in the state.
Position of the Authors
According to an opinion poll on the matter, raids and expulsions and the erection of a concrete wall will not solve the immigration mess, legislations have also failed to address the matter. It is therefore, imperative that focus be placed on mitigation of the matter.
It is assumed that immediate actions taken to mitigate immigration have been considered to be the reason for the failure to bring immigration to a stop. Consequently, the increased immigrants from Mexico are considered as a demonstration of Mexico as a failing state. For effective mitigation of immigrants from Mexico, both sides must participate and not only USA can do it (Ramirez 1).
With regards to the immigration law in Alabama, the USA hypocrisy is exposed particularly concerning illegal and unskilled immigrants who have their legal entry in the country stopped despite their labor being on high demand. Of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the USA, approximately 7 million are in labor force and the wish to replace them in mass with the unemployed US citizens is subject to fail.
The editorial advocated for the revisiting of the guest-worker program which will entail the recruiting of workers to work in the farms, but the workers should be already staying in the USA. It is therefore, imperative to fix the immigration problem by ensuring that the workers officially legalize their statuses and to prepare them to the path of citizenship (Washington Post 1).
The New York Times editorial argued that the contracting of private companies to run penitentiaries has made a gimmick of the detention of a large number of immigrants in the name of swoop or immigrant profile, which makes them end up in prisons. This has the impact of making privatization of the penal system a lucrative industry.
Political Analysis of the Article and its Effect on the US Citizens
In this year, immigration issue debate has pitted aggressive Republicans against neutral Democrats. Several states have also started attaching weight to the issue of immigration by establishing solutions, and some of the states have branded immigrants as criminals. It has also prompted the emergence of pro-immigrants groups who are out to fight for the rights of immigrants on the states.
In the Washington editorial, the uproar over the Alabama immigration law sharply divided the Republicans between those who argued in favor of the hounding of immigrants and those who argued against the law with main justifications that it will negatively impact on agribusiness.
Law makers in Alabama argued that the driving away of illegal immigrants will serve to create jobs for the Americans, and it would tremendously cut off the rate of unemployment. Most of the citizens posited that majority of the Americans are inexperienced on-field works and also expressed their reservations that most of the Americans are concentrated in the cities or are unwilling to undertake energy demanding and poorly paid jobs.
The Alabama federal court suspended a law that required schools to collect information on immigration status of parents and children but gave a nod to the legal provisions that permitted the police to demand for identification documents from people they might suspect as illegal immigrants; this forced several illegal immigrants to pack up and get out of the state. The Congress and the federal government have not adequately established visa supply for immigrant workers (Washington Post 1).
The governor of Alabama continues to enforce the contested and controversial law that permits authorities to detain illegal immigrants as well as permitting the law enforcement authorities to check the immigration status of all students in public schools. Immigration laws in Alabama are stricter when compared to immigration laws in other states where federal courts have blocked immigration laws that are considered detrimental like the Alabama one.
Other states are not served by the Alabama policy which is motivated towards driving out all the illegal immigrants as opposed to cooperating with the federal government. Immigration in Alabama has forced the state to place more emphasis on the illegal immigrants as opposed to dealing with criminals who pose more threats to the population. Republicans in the state legislature have endeavored to crack down on illegal immigrants.
This was evident this year when they capitalized on their numerical strength in the legislature and passed for legislations that called for the protection of employment of the legal immigrants and the citizens of America, particularly during these moments of tattered economy. Alabama legislatures argued that it chose to act due to the reluctance of the federal government to enforce immigration laws.
There has been constant opposition to the immigration laws of Alabama by the federal government which argued that it poses the risk of straining the relationship of the USA and its neighbors, particularly the Latin American countries, and it might have a negative impact on millions of labor force as well as tourists. The Alabama’s immigration laws are considered detrimental, since they make it illegal for an immigrant to obtain better housing, to enter into a contract or to send their children to public schools (Bluestein 1).
The New York Times editorial explained how the matter is becoming an emotive one. The announcement by the White House that the department of homeland security has suspended deportations of US illegal immigrants who pose limited risks or threat has been heavily criticized. The Republicans have associated it with the Dream Act which had earlier been blocked since it was considered as a campaign gimmick by the Obama regime.
For the first time this year, both Republicans and the Democrats have agreed to adopt a common ground on immigration by undertaking various changes to the federal laws on immigration.
Though former President George Bush tried to introduce the bipartisan plan as a solution to the immigration problem, it has always been opposed by a majority of the Americans, who are totally opposed to granting of citizenships to illegal immigrants (New York Times 1). Conservatives have complained of the fact that the federal government has failed in its duty to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants.
Impact on the American Politics
Political parties and political ideologies have a lot of impact on the problem of immigration. Immigration issue has been at the centre of political debates during times of elections.
The electability of candidates to high political offices is pegged on their stand on hot-button topics, and immigration is one of them. It is becoming a big political issue in the ongoing campaigns. Mid this year, Obama made a speech at the border of US and Mexico as a gesture to demonstrate that the border is secure. It is the immigration debate that pits Republicans with the Democrats.
It is used as a campaign instrument to influence the Latino and the Hispanics who are treated as swing votes. In the 2008 campaigns, Obama made a promise to develop a path that will ensure that all the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants residing in US obtain citizenship. This promise has not been delivered. The stand of Obama regarding immigration has put him in collision with its allies. Governors from the regions’ with a lot of immigrant populations have opted not to be party to the enforcement strategy of Obama.
The government has enhanced privatization of the penal system by ensuring that detentions are expanded as a demonstration to voters that it is enforcing tough immigration laws. Obama cemented his win on the presidential race during the 2008 elections by articulating best ideas and measures regarding to immigration, which won him support in swing states with a very big population of the Hispanics which include Nevada, New Mexico and Florida.
The depiction of immigration as an emotive political issue is evident in political debates. In the current political debate between candidates of the Republican Party, as who can take the best step towards mitigation immigration has characterized their debates, and the question is about who can erect one of the impenetrable defense on the borders.
Immigration has become a hot topic during political campaigns, especially in the areas with large Hispanic and Latino population because they are considered interested parties that can be directly affected by immigration policies.
Presidential hopefuls have floated several measures they take as the best options of mitigating immigration. Others have considered the erection of an electric fence while others considered building of a wall as the best option. How candidates handle the immigration as an issue determines their political fortunes. Sharon Angle, for example, saw his political fortunes dim largely because of her stand on anti-immigration (Gabriel 1).
In the Republican debate between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney in the state of Iowa, Perry considerably had lower opinion rating due to the way he handled the immigration debate.
Individual’s tough stand on immigration may earn one several political points. It has been used by present and previous presidential candidates. It is particularly used in areas with a large population of Latino and Hispanics, who are directly affected by immigration issue.
The Hispanic population is considered the majority in the category of the immigrants. Hispanics are people from Cuba, Mexico and other south and Central American. Every presidential candidate must tackle questions or opinions regarding immigration. Immigration has received the greatest attention and particularly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This was when the Department of Homeland Security was created, and one of its tasks was to track and prosecute all those people who were in the USA illegally to mitigate cases of terrorism.
Bluestein, Greg. “US ask court to halt Alabama’s immigration law.” Associated Press 7 October 2011. Print.
Fletcher, Pascal. “U.S. challenges South Carolina immigration law.” Reuters 31 October 2011. Print.
Gabriel, Trip. “Comments on Immigration Alienate Some Hispanics.” New York Times 20 October 2011. Print.
New York Times. “Immigration and Emigration.” New York Times 29 September 2011.
Ramirez, Odilion. “US Immigration News: Immigration Effecting Elections.” Civilian News 22 October 2011. Print.
Washington Post. “How Alabama’s immigration law is crippling its farms.” Washington Post 01 November 2011. Print.