What issues are you most concerned about in the upcoming 2016 presidential election? The economy, climate change, healthcare? I am sure it comes as no surprise that immigration is among my key interests in this election.
As such, I thought I would use this post to quickly review current presidential front-runners’ views on immigration. What are they saying about immigration? How could that impact Young and me?
Here is quickly summary of top candidates’ (according to MSNBC polls) policy ideas. There is more I could say about each one, but I will try to limit my review to how the policy relates to Young and me. To try to keep things as “fair” as possible, I am only using information that the candidates supplied on their own campaign websites.
Donald Trump – He is probably most known for his plan to have Mexico pay for a wall to be built between Mexico and the U.S. This would do nothing for Young and me or for the millions of other undocumented immigrants that are already here. His other ideas include penalties for visa overstays. As a child, Young came to the U.S. with a visa and then his visa expired. Would Young be penalized for a decision he did not make? If he was not penalized, what about his other family members? Would they be separated? From my perspective, Donald Trump’s ideas, at minimum, do not adequately consider immigrant children and others who did not make a decision to come here, or made a decision as a child, and now call the U.S. home.
Ben Carson – He does not mention immigration in the “key issues” section on his website and I could not find it anywhere else on the website. This does not sound good for Young and me.
Hillary Clinton – She is most interested in full immigration reform legislation with a pathway to citizenship. Because Young had a Visa when his family crossed the border, there is already a pathway to citizenship for Young through marriage. But what about the other members of his family? A pathway to citizenship would allow Young’s family, and others like his, to stay together. Also, if he would not have had that Visa, after our marriage he would have had to return to South Korea for 10 years before he could apply for permanent residency in the U.S. according to current immigration policy. This is the reality for many others. Hillary has also said she will continue to support DACA. This is the program that allows Young to legally work in the U.S. now and protects him from deportation. (See my “DACA: It’s a Big Deal” post for more about DACA).
Bernie Sanders – With respect to impacts for Young and me, some of Bernie’s ideas are similar to Hillary’s. He supports a pathway to citizenship and also supports DACA. Bernie has also said that, if president, he would use executive action to provide deportation relief to parents of U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and DREAMers (Young and his brother are in this group). This would also help keep Young’s family together and eliminate the constant fear that can accompany being undocumented. He has also supported past legislation to allow undocumented students to receive higher education benefits per their state of residence. This might have made college more affordable for Young, and it may have helped his brother to be able to afford post-high school education. (See my post “Why Not In-State…”).
Immigration can seem like an abstract concept, but for me especially, immigration is not about politics or some sort of ideological battle. It’s personal. Decisions that are made need to consider the impacts on real people, with real relationships, and real lives. The outcome of this election has the potential to greatly impact Young, his family, and me. As a non-citizen Young can’t vote, but I certainly will be.