America was founded on the principles of diversity and acceptance, including accepting immigrants into the country. While both parties agree on continuing to support immigration, they disagree on what to do about those who enter the country by anything but the accepted method. The Democratic view on immigration is based on the idea that the United States is a country based on immigrants, and as such it should value and support its present and future immigrants. As such, Democrats tend to be comparably forgiving toward illegal immigrants, supporting amnesty and citizenship programs that will allow illegal immigrants to stay here and become fully functioning citizens.
For this reason, Democrats tend to have a much stronger backing from families who immigrated here in elections. For example, in every presidential election since 1984, Hispanics have voted Democratic by anywhere from 60% to 75%. Many argue that Democrats have become the party of immigration reform because it helps them gain political power. However, Democrats counter that with the statement that, in fact, they have gained political power because they are the party of immigration reform, not vice versa. One thing is clear – immigration is a matter of growing contention, and both parties need to focus on voter response to this issue when planning their platforms in upcoming elections.
Children Born in the US or Brought as Infants
Democratic views on illegal immigration are particularly lenient in the case of children who were born to undocumented immigrants or brought to the country illegally by their parents when they were young. Their belief is that these children did not make a conscious decision to break the law, and therefore punishing them is unjust. Democrats believe in providing these immigrants a path to citizenship, but recognize that this would require larger-scale immigration reform. In 2012, the Obama administration announced a stop gap measure to protect these immigrants from deportation and provide them a means to work until larger reform could be achieved. This was known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The plan provided immigrants with work permits and was renewable indefinitely.
Path to Citizenship for Adult Illegal Immigrants
Democrats believe in providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, so long as they are prepared to be a contributing member of American society. They wish to greatly reform the current immigration laws, stating that “We will extend the promise of citizenship to those still struggling for freedom. Today’s immigration laws do not reflect our values or serve our security, and we will work for real reform. The solution is not to establish a massive new status of second-class workers; that betrays our values and hurts all working people. Undocumented immigrants within our borders who clear a background check, work hard and pay taxes should have a path to earn full participation in America.”
However, Democrats do not believe that just any illegal immigrant should be provided amnesty or a path to citizenship. They state that undocumented workers who “are in good standing must admit that they broke the law, pay taxes and a penalty, learn English, and get right with the law before they can get in line to earn their citizenship.” They also believe in providing more opportunities for immigrants to meet these requirements and achieve citizenship, stating “We will hasten family reunification for parents and children, husbands and wives, and offer more English-language and civic education classes so immigrants can assume all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. As we undertake these steps, we will work with our neighbors to strengthen our security so we are safer from those who would come here to harm us. We are a nation of immigrants, and from Arab-Americans in California to Latinos in Florida, we share the dream of a better life in the country we love.”
Democrats do support strong repercussions for those who exploit illegal labor, stating “We must punish employers who recruit undocumented workers in order to exploit them. We reject calls for guest worker programs that lead to exploitation.” This process undermines American workers, and Democrats believe that those who do so need to be held accountable.
Preventing Illegal Immigration
Many Democrats believe that part of the reason illegal immigration is so rampant is because of the difficulty of achieving legal immigration status. Therefore, Democrats support reforming of the INS, specifically with the goal of reducing the immigration backlog. A former Democratic National Platform states, “Democrats support reforming the INS to provide better services, and investing the resources needed to reduce the backlog of citizenship applications from nearly two years to three months. Democrats also support increased resources for English language courses, which not only help newcomers learn our common language but also help us promote our common values. Family reunification should continue to be the cornerstone of our legal immigration system.”
Democrats vs Republicans on Immigration
While Democrats believe in supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, Republicans support stronger border patrols and stronger repercussions for those caught in the U.S. illegally, as well as those who employ them or help them falsify documentation. Part of this discrepancy lies in the party’s views on immigrants themselves and their value to the country – 25 percent more Democrats than Republicans believe that immigrants strengthen the US. Democrats believe that “Republicans decided to play politics with it rather than do the right thing” when opposing the Dream Act, and have stated that, “Mitt Romney and the Republicans have opposed commonsense reforms and pandered to the far right.” The Obama administration’s website referred to the vote as “heartless,” stating that “these are hundreds of thousands of young people who grew up as Americans after being brought here as kids through no fault of their own,” and that “inaction in the House has cost our country nearly $12 billion.”
- Democratic View on Immigration
- Republican Views on Illegal Immigration
- Taking A Closer Look At Boehner’s Immigration Plan
- Republican Views on Immigration
- Donald Trump On Immigration
- Democratic Views On A Border Wall
- Democratic Party Beliefs
- Rand Paul On The Issues
- Ted Cruz On The Issues
- Chris Christie On The Issues