By Jason Davis, Systems Administrator
Since 2007, the United States has accepted over a million new permanent residents to the country each year. Both candidates for president, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, support legal immigration and assert the importance of welcoming new ideas and cultures to the country. Both also agree that the immigration system is in need of reform. That, however, is largely where the similarities end.
What follows is an issue-by-issue rundown of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s immigration stances. The information comes from two sources: Mitt Romney’s campaign website, and the White House’s official policy document, “Building a 21st century immigration system.
Obama: Support of DREAM Act or similar program to allow young persons living in the U.S. to earn legal status after serving in the armed forces or pursuing two years of higher education. Support of an amnesty program for illegal immigrants that requires security check, fines, fingerprinting, learning English and American civics, and payment of back taxes. Individuals in the program would then be placed at the back of the current permanent residence queue. Convicted criminals would be ineligible.
Romney: Opposition to any amnesty program.
Romney: Construction of a high-tech fence and deployment of the necessary number of border patrol.
Obama: Continued investment in security technology, including unmanned aerial vehicles. Continued state, local, and tribal border relief grants.
Obama: Increased, mandatory civil liberties training for border patrol officers. Expansion of laws against hiring discrimination.
Obama: Increased penalties, sanctions and prosecution efforts, including harsher penalties on document forgery. Smoother removal process for individuals willing to leave the country voluntarily. Increased use of alternative detention methods.
Romney: Full enforcement of federal immigration laws.
Romney: Creation of tamper-proof employment verification system like E-Verify.
Obama: Mandatory phase-in of E-Verify employment verification system. Creation of efficient alternative process when E-Verify cannot confirm worker status. Increased penalties for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers. Improved coordination between the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. New fraud and wear-resistant social security cards. Pilot program for biometric employment verification.
Existing visa programs
Obama: Raise caps for highly skilled worker (H-1B) visas. Exemption of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens from annual immigration caps. Creation of a startup visa for foreign entrepreneurs receiving funding from U.S. investors. Creation of a small, targeted program for low-skill temporary workers when no American workers are available.
Romney: Raise caps for highly skilled worker (H-1B) visas.
Romney and Obama: Permanent residency (green cards) for graduates with advanced degrees in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).