Immigration and the Midterm Election

Throughout the history of the United States, immigration has always been a heavily discussed national issue and in 2018, the discussion has only been heightened. Immigration is an extremely controversial topic and in Texas, because of our shared border with Mexico, immigration greatly influences our lives. As the Texas Midterm Election grows near, it is important to understand where candidates stand.

While Texas Senate candidates Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz appear to clash on a variety of issues, immigration seems to be one of their most opposing standpoints. Cruz stated that his views on immigration boil down to “legal, good; illegal, bad,” yet O’Rourke does not see the issue as black and white.

“Much of our strength, success and security as a state and as a country depend on the immigrants who contribute to our society as together we build the American Dream. Any honest immigration reform must reflect the value of immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers by providing a path to work, family reunification and citizenship,” said O’Rourke.

As clearly outlined on his campaign website, O’Rourke intends to end the militarization of the immigration enforcement system, and close private immigration prisons and detention centers that he argues profit from locking up families. He also supports the passing of the federal Dream Act to enable undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children to become U.S. citizens. In regards to the DREAM Act, Jennifer de Haro, Managing Attorney at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) stated:

“I do believe that [the federal DREAM Act] should be passed in the entire nation, which would of course include Texas. This law would allow many young adults to continue to work and contribute to our nation’s economy and culture. I have many friends who have DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) who only know the United States as ‘home.’ They’ve been here their entire lives and work as attorneys, nurses, doctors, entrepreneurs and small business owners.”

Similarly, Nestor Andrade, who illegally immigrated to the United States from El Salvador at 18 and eventually became a legal citizen, agrees with de Haro. He noted that many Dreamers go on to pursue successful careers such as engineers and doctors, and encourages the government to “welcome Dreamers to be a part of this great country.”

The emergence of the Honduran caravan heading towards U.S. borders has recently cultivated much controversy in terms of our Midterm Election. With immigration being a key debate between candidates O’Rourke and Cruz, each candidate’s comment on the matter accurately portray their political beliefs.

“When you see thousands of people pledging to come violate U.S. law, to cross into this country illegally, we have to treat that seriously” said Cruz regarding Honduran caravan. “We have to stop it,” Cruz said passionately about his plan for the National Guard to stop the caravan at our border.

“I’m just waiting to see Beto O’Rourke come down and start leading the caravan,” Cruz said poking fun of O’Rourke’s beliefs on immigration. Regarding the caravan, O’Rourke argues that the solution to the caravan starts with addressing the reasons Hondurans feel the need to flee. By shedding light on, and combating those issues, the Hondurans would not have a reason to immigrate illegally.

“President Obama’s policies have encouraged drug smugglers, child abusers, murderers, and other dangerous criminals to traffic immigrant children into our nation under life-threatening conditions,” states Cruz, calling the DREAM Act “lawless amnesty.” He filed an amendment in 2013 that would deny a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Cruz does, however, greatly support legal immigration and believes they deserve a better system in which they will be welcomed to the United States.

Despite Cruz’s claims, de Haro said, “there are numerous studies showing this is a false narrative. It is very sad that people associate immigrants with crime when there is no conclusive evidence that supports this claim. Foreign born individuals do not commit crime more than U.S.born individuals,” .

As a part of his stance on immigration, O’Rourke believes in improving the immigration system so that it encourages and facilitates family reunification, education, and the investment of talent in our country. Regarding this matter, de Haro stated, “I wholeheartedly agree that keeping families together is extremely important and should be prioritized. We depend on our family for help, support, comfort, and socializing. Separating children from their parents is harmful to their mental health.”

As a parent, Andrade said, “I can’t imagine how parents feel when they are separated from their kids. When children are brought into America as small children, it is not their fault that they are illegal and they should not be punished for it.”

O’Rourke aims to modernize the visa system to allow U.S. employers to find workers for jobs that American workers can’t fill. “We need to give immigrants temporary stay or make them legal to fill unique jobs such as laying roof or farming,” said Andrade.

“Immigration affects the American workforce by increasing the supply of available workers in the United States. My clients have told me about numerous instances when they have worked without pay because their employer threatened to call immigration authorities. There are laws that protect workers, regardless of their immigration status, but many undocumented individuals aren’t aware of these laws,” said de Haro regarding the impact of immigrants. Some, however, tend to argue that the emergence of immigrants into the United States’ workforce is bringing down workers’ wages.

As November 6 quickly approaches, it is important to understand the opinions of both Cruz and O’Rourke on key issues such as immigration in order to make an informed vote. You have the right and responsibility (if you are 18+), to vote Tuesday in an extremely controversial election that could greatly impact us as Texans.

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