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Updated: Immigration At the Debate: Politicos, Reporters, Bloggers Weigh In

by Pili Tobar on 10/17/2012 at 6:38pm

Following the presidential debate last night, we put together a Twitter roundup of our favorite comments on the debate.  Today, we’re putting together a blog roundup of responses commenting on who did better during the immigration segment of the debate, hitting Romney for his repeated use of the slur “illegals,” lifting up how Romney wants young immigrants to be able to become permanent residents—but only if they join the military, and more:

Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a champion of immigration reform, called Romney’s arguments on immigration a “fantasy” that can be summed up in two words: “get out”:

Once again, Mitt Romney showed you can describe his immigration policy in two words: “get out.”  Mitt Romney has no understanding of the importance of immigrants to our economy or appreciation for the need to keep families together.  Mitt Romney was clear that 10 or 11 million immigrants will have to leave the country if he is elected, but the idea that so many millions of people will leave or be driven out of the U.S. is a fantasy.  Mitt Romney’s views are dramatically out of touch with the common-sense policies that most Americans embrace when it comes to immigration.  I urge every person who supports reasonable and fair policies that protect our borders, put people to work and keep families together to pay close attention to the extreme and unworkable views on immigration that Mitt Romney expresses again and again.

Jordan Fabian at Univision discusses what a logical error it is for Romney to have hit Obama on not doing anything about immigration—when it’s Romney himself and his fellow Republicans who do not support that kind of immigration reform:

At the end of the day, Romney was at his strongest when holding Obama accountable for his promise that he would bring up a comprehensive immigration reform bill in his first year.

But time and again, Obama was able to diffuse Romney’s arguments. Essentially the president constantly asked Romney this: How could you criticize me for not passing policies that you do not support?

For either candidate, the question moving forward will be a direct, but complex one: Regardless of who’s in the Oval Office, how does a consensus emerge over the next four years to actually pass a reform bill?

A New York Times editorial commends Obama for having the better, more humane, more practical immigration reform plan:

The president reminded listeners that Mr. Romney’s immigration adviser was the author of Arizona’s radical, unconstitutional immigration law. And Mr. Romney himself repeated his cruel prescription to have undocumented immigrants “self-deport” by making it impossible for them to find work and aggressively demanding their identification papers. Mr. Obama offered the better, broader view on fixing immigration, though his own administration has also deported tens of thousands of non-criminals through a crackdown similar to Arizona’s law.

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars responds to Romney’s proposal to let young immigrants become permanent residents—if they join the military:

[Romney’s] solution to immigration reform? Let them be cannon fodder for our next war!

Ian Reifowitz at Daily Kos—like many other commentators today notes that Romney called immigrants “illegals” while Obama recognized DREAMers as people who “understands themselves as Americans,” and says this makes all the difference in their tones:

Where some on the right would see nothing more than an “illegal immigrant,” Obama recognizes a young adult who has been in this country, for example, for twenty out of the twenty-five years of her life and who has gone through an irreversible process of Americanization. That person is nothing but an American in terms of her national identity. He understands what it would mean to that person to be expelled from the only homeland she has essentially ever known. President Obama understands how national identities are formed, both on the individual and the societal level. He understand how and why an American comes to feel an attachment to this country and to his fellow Americans.

From Stephen A. Nuno of NBC Latino:

Twelve times. When asked what he would do about undocumented immigrants without green cards who were otherwise living here as productive members of society, Governor Romney said the word “illegal” in one variation or another twelve times. By contrast, President Obama used the word once.

The words we use when speaking about a topic are a powerful expression of the sentiments we associate with that subject, and when the Presidential candidates were asked to clarify their commitments on immigration, there could not be a clearer contrast between the sentiments of the President and Governor Romney.

Cesar Vargas at the Hill points out just how extreme Mitt Romney is on immigration:

It is difficult to see whether Mitt Romney could shift more center on immigration this far in the election. But what is clear is his abidance to policies that immigration hawks like Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) or Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach have advance; policies that have contributed to the Republican nominee’s deficiency with Hispanics. The Latino electorate were watching tonight hoping to see Mitt Romney restore sensibility to the immigration debate. Indeed, Mitt Romney had the opportunity tonight to move away from the extreme and nasty rhetoric on immigration. He failed to do so.

And Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), reminding us that Romney STILL hasn’t given us any specifics on what his immigration plan would be:

Just as troubling, Gov. Romney doesn’t seem to have an immigration plan beyond some talking points about border fences and making it impossible for DREAM Act-eligible students to become citizens. The flap over his “self-deportation” gaffe has, unfortunately, lowered expectations when it comes to what his real immigration policy would be if he became president. He’s been able to fly under the radar simply by laughing it off and sticking to a vague script. If he’s elected, millions of young peoples’ livelihoods are going to be in his hands, and he’s shown them no leadership so far.

David Leopold of the American Immigration Lawyers Association agrees:

Yes, Mr. Romney repeated his talking point about “stapling green cards” to science, technology, engineering and mathematics diplomas. But his words are meaningless because he does not also advocate for a comprehensive overhaul of the current immigration policy — one that includes more visas for highly skilled workers and a pathway to lawful compliance for the 12 million undocumented immigrants now living in the shadows. Last night Romney simply repeated the anti-immigrant Restrictionist line, flatly opposing any policy solution that gives undocumented immigrants a way to comply with the law as an unacceptable “amnesty.”

And here’s some fact-checking from Julia Preston at the New York Times:

Mr. Obama said Mr. Romney’s “main strategy” to curb illegal immigration would be to “encourage self-deportation.”

Mr. Romney has never clarified precisely what he would do about the more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. During the Republican primaries he called for tough enforcement to pressure them to leave the country. Since June he has moderated that position, saying he could support some measures that would allow a limited group to remain here legally.

Mr. Romney says he opposes any amnesty. During a primary debate in January, he said he would seek a mandatory nationwide program to verify the legal status of all new hires, expanding an existing federal program known as E-Verify, which is now voluntary. With that program in place, he said, illegal immigrants would soon discover that they could not get jobs and that “they’re going to self-deport.”

Mr. Romney was pressed for more details on the self-deportation strategy during a town hall-style meeting last month with Univision, the Spanish language network. But he did not provide them. “I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home,” he said.

But he said he would not favor “a mass deportation effort, rounding people up, 12 million people.” Mr. Romney said, “Our system is not to deport people.”

He has said he would support giving permanent resident green cards to illegal immigrants who serve in the military, a group probably numbering in the tens of thousands.

Mr. Romney has said he will “put in place a permanent solution” for illegal immigration, but he has not described what it would look like or how he would get around the roadblocks in Congress that stalled Mr. Obama’s efforts to pass legislation. Most Republican lawmakers in Washington have rejected any legal status for illegal immigrants, calling it amnesty.

 

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