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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

EDWARDS, OBAMA REITERATE SUPPORT FOR COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION

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Here is the transcript from last night's Democratic debate in Las Vegas. Senator Clinton was not asked an immigration question last night:



WILLIAMS: Senator Edwards, in touching on
immigration here, let's go to something that a lot of people have found
to be a disconnect between the Democratic Party and majorities of
voters in a lot of states.



What would be the problem with English as an official language, as a bedrock requirement of citizenship?



EDWARDS: Well, at least from my perspective, what
we need to be doing is we need comprehensive immigration reform. We
need to create a path for citizenship for 11 million to 14 million who
are here who are undocumented We need to give them a real chance to
earn -- I'm not for amnesty, but I am for being able to earn American
citizenship.



WILLIAMS: But what about speaking the language?



EDWARDS: I'm about to get to that.



I think that a couple of the requirements, in order to be able to
earn American citizenship, are, first, if you came here illegally, we
can't pretend it didn't happen. We are a country of laws and we believe
in enforcement of those laws. So we have to show recognition of having
violated the law, and that means payment of a fine.



EDWARDS: Second, I think if you want to become an American citizen and earn American citizenship, you should learn to speak English.



Now, I think that we should help with that process. We should help
make sure that those who are living here, and they're not
English-speaking as their first language, get a chance to actually
learn English.



But I think that should be a requirement for becoming an American citizen.



WILLIAMS: Tim Russert?



RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, one of your pollsters was
quoted in The New Yorker magazine as saying this: "The Hispanic voter
has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black
candidates."



Does that represent the view of your campaign?



CLINTON: No, he was making a historical statement.
And, obviously, what we're trying to do is to bring America together so
that everybody feels like they're involved and they have a stake in the
future.



This is a black/brown debate. We haven't actually talked about
black/brown issues -- I regret that. And I think that we have a lot that
we can do together.



You know, Tavis Smiley's "Covenant" is a great way to start.



CLINTON: There's a lot that we should be doing.
I've worked with many of the Latino groups, over many years. We've got
work on education and health care.



The agenda for America is the agenda for African-Americans and for
Hispanics. And we need to merge that and we need to have a political
system where people feel like they can vote for anybody because we're
all on the same page; we're all going to make progress together.



But I wanted to follow up, quickly, on something that...



RUSSERT: Let me ask Senator Obama. Do you believe
there's a history of a decision, where Latino voters will not vote for
a black candidate?



OBAMA: Not in Illinois. They all voted for me. And so...



(LAUGHTER)



(APPLAUSE)



You know, if this is being asked in the context of my candidacy, one
of the things that I know is that, when Latino voters know of my
commitment to them and the work that I've done for years, then they
gravitate toward my candidacy.



We were talking earlier about immigration reform.



OBAMA: I think that John and myself and Hillary may
agree on the broad outlines of where we need to go, but two years ago I
stood with Ted Kennedy and John McCain and took on this tough issue,
and have consistently been involved in making sure that we've got the
kind of comprehensive plan that makes us a nation of laws and a nation
of immigrants.



That's the kind of leadership that I've shown. And when Latino
voters read or hear about that leadership, then they know that they're
going to have an advocate even if it's politically tough.



And I think that's, you know, that's the real test of leadership --
not when it's easy, not when the things poll well, but how you do when
you've got a contentious issue like how we solve this immigration
problem. That's an area where I've consistently stepped up.





















































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Comments

  1. Another voice's Avatar
    Either one of these guys along with a democratic majority in congress will do the trick on immigration, hopefully the perfect storm will come in November 2008.
  2. yave begnet's Avatar
    "That's an area where I've consistently stepped up."

    Stepped up and voted for the border wall, that is.

    I generally sympathize with the previous commenter, and I am an Obama supporter, but I also don't think immigrant advocates should put too much hope in a Democratic president to wave his/her hand and dispel the poisonous political atmosphere surrounding this issue. As much as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of nativists--we always have been, and there's little indication this will change anytime soon. I expect any changes to the system in 2009 to be incremental and hotly contested. The kinds of changes we need require long-term work to shift paradigms and will probably not be implemented by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, although they could take some important steps in the right direction.
  3. Another voice's Avatar
    I think with the economy going to the toilet and the wrong aproach by state and local governments to tackle immigration by putting preassure on businesess will force who ever is in the WH to act in some way, I am not saying CIR but they will have to tackle the problem sooner rather than later say for the second term. Offcourse the nativist and antis will claim that you do not need immigrants since in bad economic times there are less jobs available but the thing is I do not think that people laid-off in Wall Street are going to go do hard labor but maybe that is just me talking.
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