President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney verbally battled over many topics during the Oct. 16 debate, not the least of which was immigration.
Obama said he was in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, whereas Romney said he would not grant “amnesty” to people who enter the U.S. without documentation.
Junior psychology and pre-med student Dave Lepoudre said he thinks Romney represents the immigration policy that’s best for the U.S.
“We shouldn’t have people who are illegal immigrants working for us and coming into our country,” he said.
“In a sense, I believe Romney is pro on bringing in legal immigrants,” he said. “I believe Obama just wants immigrants in general.”
Marie Muhammad, a junior who’s co-majoring in environmental science and geology, was also focused on Romney’s stance on immigration.
“I am backing Obama, but I do want to hear what Romney’s saying,” she said. “I don’t want to be biased.”
During the debate, the former Massachusetts governor talked about his support for a policy of self-deportation for undocumented immigrants.
“Basically, he was saying how he’s going to make life harder on immigrants to get them to want to leave voluntarily,” said Muhammad, an alumna of the former WSU Center for Chicano Boricua Studies. “Who would want to leave voluntarily when they came from something, you know how it is down in Mexico. If you come from that, you did everything you could to escape that, why would you want to go back?”
Jorge Chinea, director of the WSU Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, said he was pleased the topic of immigration was brought up during the debate and that the United States must find a solution that considers both its own needs and the needs of the countries from which the immigrants originate.
“We have two borders and two coasts,” he said. “Not every immigrant that comes to the United States is a Spanish-speaking person.”
“What we’re looking at now is one of those cyclical moments in history where we have conditions in Latin America that are pushing people out, and those conditions may not be there in the future,” he said. “So we need to be comprehensive in thinking about immigration as to the causes and as to the sending nations because sending nations may change into the future.”
Baldemar Velasquez, president and founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, spoke at WSU Oct. 19 as part of the North American Labor History Conference. He proposed a type of visa that would allow workers to travel freely between North American borders.
“That’s the way you curb immigration,” he said. “If workers had the ability to get a visa that they could travel with their labor rights freely across the border, they’d be lined up at our consulates to get that visa.”
Velasquez said whoever comes into power should create a law with which undocumented immigrants can comply.
“Every undocumented person I know,” he said, “if there was a way for them to do things legally, they would do it.”
Emily Morman is the editor-in-chief of The South End.