Barack Obama would use his presidential power to discourage enforcement of federal immigration laws and offer blanket amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants as part of his quiet plan to dismantle U.S. immigration policies.
In numerous speeches and interviews, Obama has repeated his pro-illegal immigrant stance, aimed squarely at filling voter rolls with hordes of newly minted Democratic voters.
But giving amnesty — and eventually, citizenship — to 12 million illegal immigrants would not only overwhelm social service programs but also forever alter the nation’s political profile, especially in the South and the West, experts warn.
Despite such dire predictions, Obama has outlined his soft-touch immigration policy dozens of times during the campaign. Some of the best indicators of what an Obama presidency would mean for immigrants can be found in Spanish-language television ads he is running in the southwestern U.S., where the Hispanic population is large, vocal, and politically savvy.
Obama’s ads promise to put citizenship papers in every illegal immigrant’s pocket and a portal to American prosperity in every home.
The ads have struck an undeniable chord with illegal immigrants who believe the political neophyte can unsnarl decades of mismanaged immigration policies that allow them to remain in the U.S. despite laws which say they can’t. Obama currently leads McCain almost 2-to-1 in many areas in New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California where the ads are running, polls show.
Obama also tipped his hand in a questionnaire sent to him this summer by a liberal group called The Sanctuary, which describes itself as a “grass-roots effort of pro-migrant, human-rights, and civil-rights bloggers and online activists."
Citing the “foreign policy components” of immigration, Obama explained to The Sanctuary his desire to improve working conditions in so-called “sender countries” such as Mexico to remove the motive for illegal immigrants to enter the United States.
The Democratic candidate would do so by shipping American taxpayer money and other unexplained “opportunities” to foreign countries where illegal immigrants come from, he said.
Obama also promises to “fix the dysfunctional bureaucracy" of the immigration system and reduce the system’s backlog by easing laws that determine who has entered the United States illegally.
Critics in both parties call his program “blanket amnesty.”
Obama has said he wants secure borders through "additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry.” And, like Republican candidate John McCain, Obama says he wants a “path to citizenship.”
But that is where the similarities between the two end, says immigration expert Mickey McCarter.
Obama exchanged letters with the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Association last month, McCarter said. In it, Obama sharply criticized the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for trying "to detain and deport millions of people" though immigration raids.
Obama was attempting to draw a distinction between his position and ICE tactics that "terrorize" communities, something he said in a July 13 speech to the National Council of La Raza that drew a sharp objection from the association, McCarter said.
The candidate told the federal officers he “has heard communities express concern that ICE enforcement activities have not exercised the necessary balance between respect for civil liberties and the manner in which they enforce the law," according to Moira Mack, deputy national press secretary for Obama for America.
Obama also told ICE officials that the number of actual undocumented workers caught in the raids "have placed all the burdens of a broken system onto immigrant families,” McCarter said in a recent article in Homeland Security Today.
In July, Obama told La Raza: "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 is happening, the system just isn't working, and we need to change it.”
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