Immigration reform has been a hot topic in the year leading up to the 2016 presidential elections. Every major presidential candidate has made explicit remarks regarding their stance on the issue of immigration and naturalization within the United States. Some have supported more openness in immigration policies, while others have appealed to the masses for a need to reduce immigration and make it more difficult to reach to US. Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that immigration reform is a hot-button issue with candidates and voters alike. Let’s look at how these candidates’ remarks have affected the polls and where they stand.
The Spark that Ignited the Fire
Perhaps no candidate has been more vocal about their stance on immigration than Donald Trump, whose incendiary remarks on Mexican immigrants incited both protests and rallies alike. In July, Trump made several statements which generalized Mexican immigrants as “killers” and “rapists”. His voice began to serve as a polarizing force within the presidential race. Many Republican candidates, initially embarrassed by the remarks, soon turned to adopt a similar, albeit more mild toned, stance on immigration.
The response of Democratic Party has been to rally against strict immigration policies towards comprehensive reform. Hillary Clinton has moved from a tepid position on immigration reform, towards a warmer and more welcoming policy. Bernie Sanders himself has long been an advocate of a policy which leans toward an open-door, although he has often taken a stance against a massive influx of sudden guest workers.
Immigration and Political Support
Recently, political scientists have debated the influence of immigration policy on voting patterns and behaviors. The Hispanic population within the US (both legal and undocumented) is growing at a rapid rate. The share of electorate considering itself Hispanic grew 49% from 2000 to 2012, and continues to rise, especially within key swing states such as North Carolina. While the debate is polarized for now, these two viewpoints will begin to form together under an umbrella of comprehensive immigration reform as candidates realize the need to gain support from second-generation immigrant families.
While immigration reform is polarizing the polls, the contentious issue does not need to be purely negative. Immigration lawyers who work alongside Washington politicians have stated it is impossible to deport 11 million migrants from the US for pure logistical reasons. Other lawyers like Keyser attorneys in Minneapolis and politicians have echoed these sentiments as well. If these opinions hold, it seems the future tides may be turning towards more comprehensive immigration reform.