The economy was once again the primary theme in tonight’s debate, but one undecided voter asked the candidates about their views on immigration reform:

What do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?

Romney spoke first. He rightly pointed out that the president promised comprehensive immigration reform and has failed to deliver. He then said that he believed in streamlining legal immigration; strengthening the border; adopting an electronic employment verification system; and offering a way for children brought into the US illegally to obtain permanent resident status.

Obama responded by noting that Romney not only has promised to veto the very legislation that would give those kids a chance to stay here, the DREAM Act, but has hired the architect of the controversial Arizona immigration law as a campaign advisor.

While the two candidates both offered similar responses to the original question, Romney’s rebuttal is perhaps most revealing. Here is his quote:

Now let me mention one other thing, and that is, self-deportation says let it -- let people make their own choice. What I was saying is, we’re not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented, illegals, and take them out of the nation. Instead, let -- make -- people make their own choice. And if they -- if they find that -- that they can’t get the benefits here that they want and they can’t find the job they want, then they’ll make a decision to go a place where -- where they have better opportunities.

Romney was scattered and on-edge tonight, and on this question, he seemed to have reverted back to severely conservative, primary-era Mitt. He actually used the deplorable term “illegals” in describing human beings and once again advocated for making life so difficult for those people that they choose opportunity elsewhere.

Obama and Romney both agree that targeting and deporting criminals is essential. So when Romney talks about self-deportation, he is referring to those undocumented workers who haven’t committed crimes since they have arrived. They work. They pay taxes. And they have chosen to build their lives and raise their families here. But if Romney were president, he would make their daily lives so unbearable that they have no choice but to leave. How’s that for compassionate conservatism, Christian charity?

(Related: Bishops welcome immigration change)

Comments

David Smith | 10/20/2012 - 3:38am
May I suggest that as Catholics here, we may be over-concerned with the legal aspects of this situation? There are twelve million suffering individuals in our midst in need of our help.
Tom Maher | 10/18/2012 - 9:04am
Dave Smith # 8

Actually Dave allowing illegal immigration by a grossly ineffective immigration policy on the scale of millions of people has numerous profoundly adverse impacts on the nation very definately including advese economic, politcal and social imapcts. 

Allowing illegal immigration is corrosive to the nation's legal, politcal, economic and social insitutions.  Let's not kid ourselves as some theoligian will.  When you allow anyone to enter the nation yu get many bad results. 

You just can't say oh we do not want criminals. Of course you don't want criminal.  But when you do not control immigration you actually get criminal in abundance.  The jails across the nation are filled with criminals who have illegally enterd the country often on behalf of interntaional organized criminal enterprses.  IS this not a huge enonomic and socail eimpact by itself?   

Econmically illegal immigrant compete with jobs in the economy across the exonomic spectrum.  In an economy that has 23 million people unable to find employment for more than a years and has half of our college graduates unemployed and many of the rest underemployed job competion form illegal aliens is not desirable or acceptable. And people who do have jobs wage rates and salary reamin lower do to more job competion.

When immigartion laws were nforced before the election cycle began a number of factories in the country whole  workforces were illegal immigarnts.  When these factories were raided and the illegal immigrants removed the next day lines of thousands of people were applying for the these jobs at higher wage rates.  

The many adverse impacts of sIllegal immigartion need to be brought under control.
David Smith | 10/18/2012 - 5:13am
Marie (#5), it seems to me to be simple xenophobia. We've a long tradition of that, starting with the Chinese in 1882:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Exclusion_Act

As someone remarked the other day, sometimes it seems as though the national motto of the USA should be ''Not in My Neighborhood''.

We have twelve million ''illegals'' living here now, in the shadows, in fear of the federal government. This is not primarily a legal issue or an economic issue, it's a humanitarian issue. Both political parties have acted shamefully on this - most recently and most conspicuously the Democrats. For Michael O'Loughlin to blog here on behalf of the Democrats, claiming that they stand with the angels, is just short of shameful. If Michael doesn't know better, he needs to go back to school.
T BLACKBURN | 10/17/2012 - 2:37pm
Wow, after reading some of those comments above I am glad human beings from other countries who are here illegally, a/k/a "illegals," are not children of the same Father and redeemed by the same Jesus Christ we good Americans celebrate and demand that our politicians celebrate. Or we might have to think about them differently.
Tom Maher | 10/20/2012 - 10:14am
Dave Smith # 15

350 million Americans who deserve an effective and comprehensive immigration policy that does not allow groups of people at their own chosing to be above the law.

The continued low illegal of immigrants must be stopped permanently.  The ill effects of illegal immigration will not be allowed to continue.  Noone or no group is above the law.  Emmigration must be controlled by an effective law that is equally applicable to all seeking to immigrate and no preference to people circumventing the law.   We need to solve problems by effective laws syupported by a democratic legailative process. 
Mike Brooks | 10/19/2012 - 11:13am
"This country has closed its borders and its hearts to the poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free"

Our government's role under the Constitution is to protect the country and its citizens; we've no obligation to other nations except to the extent that it helps our country.  Our immigration policy is not "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses;" those are just the words of a poet that appear on a statue where a bunch of immigrants happen to enter, legally, btw.  By law, all of the illegal immigrants can be deported and the only ones allowed to stay are those who can claim political asylum or other legal status.

I'm no economics guru, but my read on illegal immigration and our government's decision to not enforce the laws is that our citizens do better when there is a "slave labor" underclass that is paid substandard wages.  As cheap Chinese labor allows us to enjoy all of our Walmart goodies, so does cheap illegal labor allow us to enjoy the cheap goods/services that the illegals provide.

As I see it the only reason we are talking about deportation of illegals is because the liberals raised the issue, demanding more government benefits to illegals and about paths to legalization.  Legalization defeats the purpose of "slave labor;" it ends up taking money out of the citizens' pockets through higher wages (which results in higher prices of goods/services) and through government benefits.  If we're going to raise wages by making illegals citizens, then we might as well deport the illegals and let our existing citizens take those now higher-paying jobs.
Marie Rehbein | 10/19/2012 - 9:28am
Walter,

How about anyone who wants to come here can.  They just have to fill out the online form (that will be developed) and stay in touch with the government while they are here.  My mother used to have to drop off an alien registration card at the post office every year, but then one year they stopped doing it.  This was before computers.

Since this is now after computers have come into widespread use, how hard would it be to keep track of every non-citizen?  If they fail to register one year, someone comes looking for them.

Meanwhile, everyone who is here now simply registers.  If they don't, no excuses, we find them, they're in trouble, their employer is in trouble, their school is in trouble...

I think that would be immigration reform, don't you?
C Walter Mattingly | 10/19/2012 - 8:41am
David Smith,
First, permit me to congratulate you for putting into print the 3 letter F word, which in today's climate is even more taboo than the old 4 letter one, which is now becoming widely acceptable.
Yes, we are becoming f**, and compared to both our neighbors to the north and south, maybe lazy (although we do pretty well compared to most European countries), and while we certainly do spend, at least at the governmental level, out the wazoo (although I must admit I'm not sure what the wazoo is/where it is located, or even how to spell it), measured by voluntary charitable giving, we are among the most generous people in the world. During the Bush administration, for example, the contribution to the AIDS problem in Africa has been identified and the greatest charitable contribution a nation has made to Africa in modern history, saving over a million from premature death. 
Nor are we selfish when it comes to accepting immigrants, as the million plus we accept annually into permanent citizenship is more than any other nation in the world. 
The link to the statement of Mark Rubio and Politifact's verification of its validity follows.
My concern, however, is that not unlike Moynihan's critique of the damage we did the African American family with the Great Society by treating the effects of poverty in such a fashion that it made the underlying problem and its cause worse, we are guilty of doing something similar here by rewarding the wrong behavior. Not only Obama, but Reagan treated it the same way. We need a better long-term plan to address the issue, not piecemeal ones timed and geared primarily for Hispanice votes such as the recent move by the Obama administration.
 http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2012/jun/20/marco-rubio/marco-rubio-says-us-admits-1-million-immigrants-ye/
 
David Smith | 10/19/2012 - 4:02am
Walter, I wish I could give you numbers. The fact is, though, that not only is it almost impossible for uneducated, unskilled people to receive permission to immigrate to this country, it's hard for highly educated, highly skilled people - and sometimes, God help us, even tourists - to get in.

Your telling an ''illegal immigrant'' to go back and stand in line is the same as telling him to go back and never darken your doorway again. He'll *never* get in legally. This country has closed its borders and its hearts to the poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free - with the occasional exception of a few lucky refugee groups whose causes at one time or another became politically popular. 

We are, in fact, a gated community, walled off by choice from the rest of the world. We're selfish and fat and lazy and spendthrift and we don't want anyone to be allowed to wake us up. This is not good, Walter.
C Walter Mattingly | 10/18/2012 - 10:19pm
Here's the crux of the matter.
Two pregnant women lacking special skills want a better life for their child in the US. One applies to immigrate to the US and is put on a waiting list. The other comes into the US illegally. The first woman's child is born in Mexico, the second, in the US. The first woman's child does not receive the benefits of US citizenship, while the child of the woman who entered illegally has citizenship rights.
What we have just accomplished is we have denied citizenship rights to the child of the woman who acted legally and given those citizenship rights to the one who acted illegally. 
You don't run a city, country, or any other entity justly or coherently when you reward a person for acting illegally while denying the reward to the one who acted legally.  We are in effect rewarding breaking the law and punishing obeying the law.
Tom Maher | 10/18/2012 - 12:11am
Tom Blackburn #6

So what are you refereing to Mr. Blackburn? 

Are your views from some lost gnostic Gospel that has recently been discover that urges Christian to take politcal positions to direct their governemnt to have unlimited uncontrolled immigartion or a country without borders?  Are such ideas possible?  

Or does your views on immigartion come from personal sentimentalism or romaticism?  Or has some zealous Catholic educatior trained you to be counter-cultural and has indoctrination you to bleive that nations don't need laws or control of immigration?

Or are your views derived from need for pious social experimention to find the perfect policies for a utopian state? 

Please feel free to share any remedy or method you may have on how to correctly conduct immigration policy. But do tell us more fully what your ideas are and where do you get these ideas on immigartion from?
Marie Rehbein | 10/17/2012 - 12:44pm
I don't really get what the problem is with illegal immigration.  It sounds to me like people are objecting more to immigration of poor or needy people than they are to immigration that occurs without deference to the official requirements.

It should be easy to immigrate.  If someone wants to immigrate to this country why should they not be allowed?  Why do visas expire?  Why is immigration not a simple matter of informing the government of one's arrival and intent to stay?

The way some poor people come into this country, by stealth, is a nuisance to some border landowners, but in general these illegal immigrants benefit our economy more than they hurt it, in my opinion.  There are more menial jobs than there are willing American citizens to fill them even in hard times.

There are those who profit from illegal immigration, either by extortion or exploitation.  This is not the fault of those wanting to immigrate.  If the process of immigrating legally were quicker and more certain, perhaps the practice of illegal immigration would be less common.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 10/17/2012 - 6:32am
Romney isn't going to make anybody self-deport. Don't listen to what he says; check his record. Aunt Zeituni has been here twelve years, living in public housing. Nobody made her life "unbearable" by making her pay exhorbitant Boston rent.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeituni_Onyango

Uncle Onyango got his driving license back. Apparently, taking away his license for drunk driving would have made his life too "unbearable."

http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/20220403uncle_obama_on_the_roads_again_rmv_approves_hardship_license

David Smith | 10/17/2012 - 3:26am
-
Michael writes:

if Romney were president, he would make their daily lives so unbearable that they have no choice but to leave. How’s that for compassionate conservatism, Christian charity?

-

Um, Michael, that's *exactly* what Obama's been doing.  You've not noticed? 
David Smith | 10/17/2012 - 3:22am
All Obama could do last night was go deaf when accused of breaking his promise to do comprehensive immigration reform in his first term.  He had promised that to Jorge Ramos, on television, and he did not do it although he had both a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.

The only decent way he could have answered that accusation tonight was to admit its truth and promise that if again given a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate he would push comprehensive immigration reform through this time. But he didn't. He's showed that this is not a high-priority issue for him, and I'd expect very little from him in a second term.

Romney has a decent enough plan - at least he did last night. With Obama doing nothing and Romney doing something, we might actually be ahead with Romney. Obama didn't fumble this ball - he deliberately threw it away.
Tom Maher | 10/17/2012 - 1:40am
How objective is this analysis when the fair and proper description of the problem, "illegal immigration" is rejected for arbitrary reasons of politcal correctness that suggests that certain immigrants are unaccountable to and above immigration law?

Actually it is necessary to describe the problem of massive uncontrolled immigration in terms of the law.  This massive problem is meanigfully describe by its essence: It is illegal immigration which needs to be brought under legal control. 

For politcal and legal integrity and the saftey and security of the nation the United States like any other country does NOT have an open borders policy where anyone at anytime and for any reason may enter and stay in the United States indefinately without  valid visa.  By law all immigration must be known about, apporved of and controlled by the United States governement.  All countries have a necessary and expected legal right and duty to control entry and immigation into a country. 

Presdiential candidate Romney plainly indicates the needed reforms he will make as Presdient to restore effective legal controls on illegal immigration.  Refershingly he squarely and cosistantly addresses the problem of illegal immigration.