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July 28, 2008

AILA's analysis of '08 Presidential Candidate Barack Obama

Here are the thoughts of Barack Obama on immigration related issues;

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 07121665 (posted Jul. 23, 2008)"

Party: Democratic
Political Office: U.S. Senator from Illinois, elected 2004; member, Illinois State Senate 1997-2004
Business/Professional Experience: Attorney, law firm of Miner Barnhill & Galland (Chicago, IL), 1993-2004
Home: Chicago, Ill.
Education: B.A. Columbia University 1983; J.D. Harvard Law, 1991
Spouse: married Michelle Robinson, 1992
Children: daughter Malia, born 1999; daughter Natasha, born 2001
Religion: United Church of Christ
Home: Chicago, Ill.

Official Campaign Site

Obama on Immigration

CFR on Obama

Obama's Recent Comments/Statements on Immigration

"We're not going to deputize a whole bunch of American citizens to start grabbing people or turning them in, in part because the ordinary American citizen may not know whether or not this person is illegal or not. Now, we should be holding employers accountable, because they have a mechanism whereby they can actually enforce.

But, you know, the notion that we're going to criminalize priests, for example, or doctors who are providing services to individuals, and throw them in jail for doing what their calling asks them to do, which is to provide help and service to people in need, I think that is a mistake. I think that's out of America's character." ~ on whether or not US citizens should report known undocumented immigrants to law enforcement officials from the Dec. 4 Democratic Debate on NPR

"No, no, no, no. I think that, if they're illegal, then they should not be able to work in this country. That is part of the principle of comprehensive reform -- that we're going to crack down on employers who are hiring them and taking advantage of them.

But I also want to give them a pathway so that they can earn citizenship, earn a legal status, start learning English, pay a significant fine, go to the back of the line, but they can then stay here and they can have the ability to enforce a minimum wage that they're paid, make sure the worker safety laws are available, make sure that they can join a union." ~ on whether or not he would allow undocumented immigrants to work in the US from the Dec. 4 Democratic Debate on NPR

"No. Because there are Spanish-speaking U.S. citizens who may not speak English well, and if they're seeking help, for example, on some vital health care question or a senior citizen who immigrated here a long time ago, and they're trying to get their Social Security check, I don't want them to not be able to get those services." ~ on whether or not he would impose an "English-Only" policy from the Dec. 4 Democratic Debate on NPR

“Latino voters know of my commitment to them and the work that I’ve done for years, then they gravitate toward my candidacy. We were talking earlier about immigration reform. I think that John and myself and Hillary may agree on the broad outlines of where we need to go, but two years ago I stood with Ted Kennedy and John McCain and took on this tough issue, and have consistently been involved in making sure that we’ve got the kind of comprehensive plan that makes us a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

And when Latino voters read or hear about that leadership, then they know that they’re going to have an advocate even if it’s politically tough.” ~ on if Latino voters will not vote for a black candidate – from the Jan. 15 Democratic Debate in Las Vegas

“I have worked on the streets of Chicago as an organizer with people who have been laid off from steel plants, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and, you know, all of them are feeling economically insecure right now, and they have been for many years. Before the latest round of immigrants showed up, you had huge unemployment rates among African-American youth. So, I think to suggest somehow that the problem that we're seeing in inner-city unemployment, for example, is attributable to immigrants, I think, is a case of scapegoating that I do not believe in, I do not subscribe to.

I believe that we can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. Now, there is no doubt that we have to get control of our borders. We can't have hundreds of thousands of people coming over to the United States without us having any idea who they are. I also believe that we do have to crack down on those employers that are taking advantage of the situation, hiring folks who cannot complain about worker conditions, who aren't getting the minimum wage sometimes, or aren't getting overtime. We have to crack down on them. I also believe we have to give a pathway to citizenship after they have paid a fine and learned English, to those who are already here, because if we don't, they will continue to undermine U.S. wages.

But let's understand more broadly that the economic problems that African-Americans are experiencing, whites are experiences, blacks and Latinos are experiencing in this country are all rooted in the fact that we have had an economy out of balance. We've had tax cuts that went up instead of down. We have had a lack of investment in basic infrastructure in this country. Our education system is chronically underfunded.

And so, there are a whole host of reasons why we have not been generating the kinds of jobs that we are generating. We should not use immigration as a tactic to divide. Instead, we should pull the country together to get this economy back on track. That's what I intend to do as president of the United States of America.” ~ on the “black-brown” divide – from the Jan. 31 Democratic Debate in California

“What I meant was that, when this issue came up -- not driver's licenses, but comprehensive immigration reform generally -- I worked with Ted Kennedy. I worked with Dick Durbin. I worked with John McCain, although he may not admit it now to move this issue forward aggressively. And it's a hard political issue. But I think it is the right thing to do.

And I think we have to show leadership on the issue. And it is important for us, I believe, to recognize that the problems that workers are experiencing generally are not primarily caused by immigration.

We have to stand up for these issues when it's tough, and that's what I've done. I did it when I was in the state legislature, sponsoring the Illinois version of the DREAM Act, so that children who were brought here through no fault of their own are able to go to college, because we actually want well-educated kids in our country who are able to succeed and become part of this economy and part of the American dream.” ~ on his claim that he “stood up for a humane and intelligent immigration policy in a way that, frankly, none of my other opponents did” – from the Jan. 31 Democratic Debate in California

“On the driver's license issue, I don't believe that we're going to have to deal with this if we have comprehensive immigration reform, because, as I said before, people don't come here to drive. They come here to work. And if we have signed up them -- if we have registered them, if they have paid a fine, if they are learning English, if they are going to the back of the line, if we fix our legal immigration system, then I believe we will not have this problem of undocumented workers in this country, because people will be able to actually go on a pathway to citizenship. That, I think, is the right approach for African-Americans; I think it's the right approach for Latinos; I think it's a right approach for white workers here in the United States.” ~ on the issue of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants

“From my perspective, I agree with Bill Richardson that there is a public safety concern here and that we're better off, because I don't want a bunch of hit-and-run drivers, because they're worried about being deported and so they don't report an accident. That is a judgment call.

But I do think it is important to recognize that this can be tough and the question is who is going to tackle this problem and solve it. Many of the solutions that Senator Clinton just talked about are solutions that I agree with, that I've been working on for many years, and my suspicion is whatever our differences, we're going to have big differences with the Republicans, but I think a practical, common sense solution to the problem is what the American people are looking for.” ~ on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants – from the Jan. 31 Democratic Debate in California

“The starting point for our policy in Cuba should be the liberty of the Cuban people. And I think we recognize that that liberty has not existed throughout the Castro regime. And we now have an opportunity to potentially change the relationship between the United States and Cuba after over half a century.

I would meet without preconditions, although Senator Clinton is right that there has to be preparation. It is very important for us to make sure that there was an agenda, and on that agenda was human rights, releasing of political prisoners, opening up the press. And that preparation might take some time. But I do think that it's important for the United States not just to talk to its friends, but also to talk to its enemies. In fact, that's where diplomacy makes the biggest difference.

One other thing that I've said, as a show of good faith that we're interested in pursuing potentially a new relationship, what I've called for is a loosening of the restrictions on remittances from family members to the people of Cuba, as well as travel restrictions for family members who want to visit their family members in Cuba. And I think that initiating that change in policy as a start and then suggesting that an agenda get set up is something that could be useful, but I would not normalize relations until we started seeing some of the progress that Senator Clinton was talking about.” ~ on whether or not he would be meet with Raul Castro – from the Feb. 21 CNN/Univision Debate

“I support the eventual normalization. And it's absolutely true that I think our policy has been a failure. I mean, the fact is, is that during my entire lifetime, and Senator Clinton's entire lifetime, you essentially have seen a Cuba that has been isolated, but has not made progress when it comes to the issues of political rights and personal freedoms that are so important to the people of Cuba.

So I think that we have to shift policy. I think our goal has to be ultimately normalization. But that's going to happen in steps. And the first step, as I said, is changing our rules with respect to remittances and with respect to travel. And then I think it is important for us to have the direct contact, not just in Cuba, but I think this principle applies generally. I recall what John F. Kennedy once said, that we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate. And this moment, this opportunity when Fidel Castro has finally stepped down, I think, is one that we should try to take advantage of.” ~ on “normalizing” relations with Cuba – from the Feb. 21 CNN/Univision Debate

“Number one, it is absolutely critical that we tone down the rhetoric when it comes to the immigration debate, because there has been an undertone that has been ugly. Oftentimes, it has been directed at the Hispanic community. We have seen hate crimes skyrocket in the wake of the immigration debate as it has been conducted in Washington, and that is unacceptable.

We are a nation of laws and we are a nation of immigrants, and we can reconcile those two things. So we need comprehensive reform, and that means stronger border security. It means that we are cracking down on employers that are taking advantage of undocumented workers because they can't complain if they're not paid a minimum wage. They can't complain if they're not getting overtime. Worker safety laws are not being observed. We have to crack down on those employers, although we also have to make sure that we do it in a way that doesn't lead to people with Spanish surnames being discriminated against, so there's got to be a safeguard there.

We have to require that undocumented workers, who are provided a pathway to citizenship, not only learn English, pay back taxes and pay a significant fine, but also that they're going to the back of the line, so that they are not getting citizenship before those who have applied legally, which raises two last points.

Number one, it is important that we fix the legal immigration system, because right now we've got a backlog that means years for people to apply legally. And what's worse is, we keep on increasing the fees, so that if you've got a hard working immigrant family, they've got to hire a lawyer; they've got to pay thousands of dollars in fees. They just can't afford it. And it's discriminatory against people who have good character, we should want in this country, but don't have the money. So we've got to fix that.

The second thing is, we have to improve our relationship with Mexico and work with the Mexican government so that their economy is producing jobs on that side of the border. And the problem that we have is that we have had an administration that came in promising all sorts of leadership on creating a U.S.- Mexican relationship. And, frankly, President Bush dropped the ball. He has been so obsessed with Iraq that we have not seen the kinds of outreach and cooperative work that would ensure that the Mexican economy is working not just for the very wealthy in Mexico, but for all people.” ~ on comprehensive immigration reform – from the Feb. 21 CNN/Univision Debate

“I think that the key is to consult with local communities, whether it's on the commercial interests or the environmental stakes of creating any kind of barrier. As Senator Clinton indicated, there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having border patrolled, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that's going to be the better approach.

It is very important for us, I think, to deal with this problem in terms of thousands of -- hundreds of thousands of people coming over the borders on a regular basis if we want to also provide opportunity for the 12 million undocumented workers who are here. Senator Clinton and I have both campaigned in places like Iowa and Ohio and my home state of Illinois, and I think that the American people want fairness, want justice. I think they recognize that the idea that you're going to deport 12 million people is ridiculous, that we're not going to be devoting all our law enforcement resources to sending people back.

But what they do also want is some order to the process. And so, we're not going to be able to do these things in isolation. We're not going to be able to deal with the 12 million people who are living in the shadows and give them a way of getting out of the shadows if we don't also deal with the problem of this constant influx of undocumented workers. And that's why I think comprehensive reform is so important.” ~ on the issue of the border fence – from the Feb. 21 CNN/Univision Debate

“Something that we can do immediately that I think is very important is to pass the Dream Act, which allows children who through no fault of their own are here but have essentially grown up as Americans, allow them the opportunity for higher education.

I do not want two classes of citizens in this country. I want everybody to prosper. That's going to be a top priority.” ~ on DREAM Act – from the Feb. 21 CNN/Univision Debate

“I think it is important that everyone learns English and that we have that process of binding ourselves together as a country. I think that's very important.

I also think that every student should be learning a second language, because, you know, so, when you start getting into a debate about bilingual education, for example, now, I want to make sure that children who are coming out of Spanish-speaking households had the opportunity to learn and are not falling behind. If bilingual education helps them do that, I want to give them the opportunity.

But I also want to make sure that English-speaking children are getting foreign languages because this world is becoming more interdependent and part of the process of America's continued leadership in the world is going to be our capacity to communicate across boundaries, across borders, and that's something frankly where we've fallen behind.

One of the failures of No Child Left Behind, a law that I think a lot of local and state officials have been troubled by, is that it is so narrowly focused on standardized tests that it has pushed out a lot of important learning that needs to take place. And foreign languages is one of those areas that I think has been neglected. I want to put more resources into it.” ~ on the downside of the US becoming a bilingual nation – from the Feb. 21 CNN/Univision Debate

"The system isn't working when 12 million people live in hiding, and hundreds of thousands cross our borders illegally each year; when companies hire undocumented immigrants instead of legal citizens to avoid paying overtime or to avoid a union; when communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids – when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel. When all that's happening, the system just isn't working." ~ from Sen. Obama's July 13th speech before the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), See the full text of the speech.

"I marched with you in the streets of Chicago to meet our immigration challenge. I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President -- not only because we have an obligation to secure our borders and get control of who comes in and out of our country. And not only because we have to crack down on employers who are abusing undocumented immigrants instead of hiring citizens. But because we have to finally bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. Yes, they broke the law. And they should have to pay a fine, and learn English, and go to the back of the line. That's how we'll put them on a pathway to citizenship. That's how we'll finally fix our broken immigration system and avoid creating a servant class in our midst. It's time to reconcile our values and principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That's what this election is all about." ~ from Sen. Obama's July 9th speech before the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), See the full text of the speech.

"If we are going to solve the challenges we face, you need a President who will pursue genuine solutions day in and day out. And that is my commitment to you. We need immigration reform that will secure our borders, and punish employers who exploit immigrant labor; reform that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows by requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens. We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day." ~ from Sen. Obama's June 28th speech before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), See the full text of the speech.

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Posted by VisaLawyer at July 28, 2008 09:45 AM

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