2004 election articles and background documents

Presidential Candidates & Parties on Immigration

Comments from the 3rd Presidential Debate, Oct. 13, 2004 in Tempe, AZ

John Kerry

On Amnesty

“I am in favor of ‘earned legalization’ for those people who are here now, who have obeyed the law, are working, have paid their taxes, stayed out of trouble. Under the circumstances, we should be converting people to citizenship.” “A Closer Look at the Candidates: John Kerry,” NPR, October 28, 2003.

On Reduction in Legal Immigration Levels:Voted against an amendment (S.AMDT.3739) to S. 1664 in 1996 to place a cap on legal immigration. (FAIR website)

On Limiting Benefits for Illegal Aliens (PAN):”That’s why I strongly oppose the ‘Protect Arizona Now’ ballot initiative… It will not reduce the need of restaurants, construction firms, farms and others for more immigrant labor than our immigration laws create room for.” John Kerry, “Immigrant Scapegoating Doesn’t Solve Problem,” Tucson Citizen, August 25, 2003.

Current cosponsor of S.1645, AgJOBS.Current cosponsor of S. 1545, the DREAM Act.

Miscellaneous Quotes Concerning Kerry On Immigration

“Nothing that Bush was meeting with Mexican President Vincente Fox some 200 miles away in Crawford, Kerry called their discussions ‘about three years too late’ and said Bush’s proposed guest worker immigration program is a Band-Aid and a ‘phony solution.’

‘America needs immigration,’ Kerry said. ‘America will see its future written by those who come to our country and grow to love it and become as American as anyone else. With the exception of Native Americans, there isn’t anyone in this country who doesn’t have an immigration background, and we need to remember that.’

At the same time, Kerry said, policy-makers need to uphold the laws that regulate immigration, including guarding the borders and cracking down on employers who exploit illegal workers.” The Houston Chronicle. March 7, 2004

“They should be very upset because [Bush] has broken every promise he made to the Hispanic Community. He promised No Child Left Behind education funding, he didn’t deliver on it. He said he would deal with immigration reform, never even tried. The Hispanic community tends to be entry level, not all, but a majority. They are struggling with health care issues and education issues and I think the president has walked away from those.” The Associated Press. June 22, 2004

George W. Bush

On A Temporary Worker Program:”I propose a new temporary worker program that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers…This program will offer legal status, as temporary workers, to the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States…Some temporary workers will make the decision to pursue American citizenship. Those who make this choice will be allowed to apply.” George W. Bush, speech, “President Bush Proposes New Temporary Work Program,” January 7, 2004.

On Reduction in Legal Immigration Levels:”Our current limits on legal immigration are too low. My administration will work with the Congress to increase the annual number of green cards that can lead to citizenship.” George W. Bush, speech at the East Room, “President Bush Proposes New Temporary Work Program,” January 7, 2004.

On Limiting Benefits for Illegal Aliens:Bush said that he was “against the spirit of the anti-immigrant Proposition 187 for my state.” Harold Meyerson, “Irrational Exuberance,” LA Weekly, July 9, 1999.

Miscellaneous Quotes by George W. Bush on Immigration“I am saddened when the land of the free sends a young boy back to communist Cuba without a fair hearing in family court. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Gonzalez family, and I hope that one day Elian will live in a free Cuba and be able to choose for himself whether to return to America.” Source: Press Release, “Statement on Elian” Jun 28, 2000

During his first campaign swing through California in June, Bush said he was “against the spirit” of Proposition 187-which in part would prevent illegal immigrants from attending public schools-and would not have supported a similar measure for Texas. “I felt like every child ought to be educated regardless of the status of their parents,” he said. Source: David Von Drehle, The Washington Post Oct 15, 1999

Ralph Nader

“Immigration has major implications for the United States creating costs and benefits for our country. We need a more vigorous debate on immigration policies and how it intersects with other policy choices we make. Immigration issues relate to our foreign policy – particularly U.S. support for dictators and oligarchs or trade policy which re-enforces low paid labor and blocks the power of trade unions. It also relates to our domestic policies – low wages for many U.S. workers, rising poverty, providing social and health services, housing and security. Immigration links to all these issues.

“As long as our foreign policy supports dictators and oligarchs south of our borders, there are going to be desperate, oppressed people moving north over our border where employers like Tysons Foods illegally employ them at very low wages but even these low wage jobs are many times what would be made in Mexico. Since 1985, U.S. spending on border enforcement has increased by a factor of six, the number of U.S. border patrol agents doubled and hours spent patrolling the borders tripled. The U.S. Border Patrol has a budget well in excess of $1 billion annually. But even with all of this expansion illegal immigration continues to expand…

“While the gap in wages between the United States and poor countries is vast, serious students of immigration point out that only a tiny percentage of people from any nation ever choose to emigrate from their homes: it is rarely the poorest who do so since they lack the necessary resources and contacts. Immigration is a process caused not by attraction of higher wages alone – since much of India, Mexico and China would have emptied into the United States were this the case and they clearly have not – but primarily caused by the inability of people to continue to live decently in their home countries. In the days of the great Ellis Island immigrations from Europe, this was due in large part to the privatization of common lands throughout the Continent and the flood of cheap American grain driving farmers out of business. (While economics was a major factor other issues included religious and political oppression.) In our day this is primarily the result of the policies of NAFTA, the WTO, the Structural Adjustment Programs of the IMF and World Bank and the predatory policies of multinational corporations.

“Part of the problem involves NAFTA. For example, the flood of cheap corn and other commodities into Mexico has dispossessed over a million Mexican farmers, and with their families, they either go to the urban slums or, in their desperation, head north.

“The United States should not be in the business of Brain Draining skilled talent, especially from developing countries. We are importing the best engineers, scientists, software people, doctors, entrepreneurs who should be in their countries, building their own countries. The long term solution to immigration is reducing the rich poor divide between the United States and other nations by peacefully supporting democratic movements…

“Second, we need to enforce the law against employers. It is hard to blame desperately poor people who want to feed their families and are willing to work hard to do so. You have to start with Washington and Wall Street. Enforcement is nearly non-existent – so much so that it has become a conscious policy to ignore both the labor and immigration laws by successive Republican and Democratic Administrations, including not enforcing laws against cruel sweatshops in the United States from New York City to Los Angeles. Such is the power of employers.

“Immigrant workers, even if they are undocumented, should be given all the fair-labor standards and all the rights and benefits of American workers. In addition they should be be allowed to get a drivers license in order to reduce hazards on the highway and allow them to function in our culture, e.g. get to work, get their children to school. If this country doesn’t like that, maybe it will do something about the immigration laws. But we cannot treat undocumented immigrants as subjects for inhumanity…” Source: www.votenader.org

Conservative Voices – Immigration and the Elections: This is a brief list of anti-immigrant, conservative organizations, including those working to pass anti-immigrant legislation.