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    Obama and McCain’s Irish stances: Irish Times features debate

    By Noreen Bowden | September 8, 2008

    The Irish Times today has a “Head to Head? feature on whether an Obama presidency would be best for Ireland, with opposing opinions written by Democrats Abroad president Kate Fitzgerald and national co-chair of the Irish-American Republicans (and former Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform president) Grant Lally.

    One point the two articles do not highlight: the contrasting immigration policies of the parties. Immigration continues to be a powerful issue in US politics, and it appears that the subject has become even more polarised in this campaign. 

    The 2008 Democratic Party platform supports comprehensive immigration reform. The platform says:

    We need comprehensive immigration reform, not just piecemeal efforts. We must work together to pass immigration reform in a way that unites this country, not in a way that divides us by playing on our worst instincts and fears. We are committed to pursuing tough, practical and humane immigration reform in the first year of the next administration.

    The platform is specific about the steps that should be taken to reform the current situation:

    For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law. We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens. They are our neighbors and we can help them become full tax-paying, law-abiding, productive members of society.

    This stance is similar to what immigration advocates in the US have been calling for: a chance to regularise the status of the estimated twelve million undocumented, including an estimated 50,000 Irish.

    The Republican Party platform does not support a path to legalisation for the undocumented, although before his presidential candidacy, Senator McCain had strongly supported and even sponsored legislation that would have have provided for this.

    The platform expresses support for a reversal of immigration through stronger enforcement of existing legislation:

    Our determination to uphold the rule of law begins with more effective enforcement, giving our agents that tools and resources they need to protect our sovereignty, completing the border fence quickly and securing the borders, and employing complementary strategies to secure our ports of entry. Experience shows that enforcement of existing laws is effective in reducing and reversing illegal immigration.

    It rejects comprehensive immigration reform that would be aimed at regularising the status of the undocumented:

    We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people’s rejection of en masse legalisations is especially appropriate given the federal government’s past failures to enforce the law.

    See the two platforms:

    See the Irish Times feature: Head 2 Head: Would an Obama presidency be best for Ireland?

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