Latino community to immigration advocates to probing journalists have been eagerly awaiting to hear more about what the two candidates plan to do about the 12 million undocumented people living in the United States. To date, they've heard very little.
Are the candidates afraid that this will explode in their faces?
Our immigration problem isn't going to disappear just by not talking about it. As Barack Obama and John McCain were preparing for their debate last night, 300 workers were rounded up in an immigration raid at a chicken processing plant in South Carolina. In fact, as the two candidates were taking shots at one another, we can guess about 100 children in South Carolina--both citizens and non-citizens--were still left stranded, not knowing where their parents were or when they would see them again.
Obama and McCain haven't been afraid to talk about who is to blame for the demise of 2007's immigration bill. In dueling Spanish-language ads, McCain has unfairly accused Obama of trying to block the major immigration bill that he supported. Obama retaliated with an equally questionable ad tying McCain to immigration hardliners like Rush Limbaugh who McCain has generally stood up to. Yet amidst all of this finger-pointing, neither candidate has adequately addressed the bottom line: what would they do, as president, to fix our broken immigration system?
I discussed this back-and-forth earlier and disagree that Obama's ad was "equally questionable", but do agree that the candidates have not given any specifics or made themselves very clear on the issue.
Nonetheless, Obama's general approach to politics appears that it has more compassion and therefore will do a better job, if compassion is still included, of dealing with migrant issues humanely and in a balanced way without getting sidetracked by hate-mongering extremists.
So there are 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
That's no small number.
So why don't the candidates address the issues involving those 12 million people?
• What is realistic and what should be done about the 12 million immigrants here in the U.S. without papers?
• What should be done with the employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers, take advantage of them, and undercut their competitors: what should be done about them?
• Opponents of reform say anything that provides legal status to those here illegally is amnesty: how do you define amnesty? Do you support amnesty? If not, what do you support?
• How do you make sure that we actually solve the problem rather than pass reforms that perpetuate the problem and lead to another 12 million coming in illegally in the future?
Actually, then, there's more than 12 million people involved: there's the Latino vote, significant in swing states, involved.
With anti-immigrant fervor plaguing Latinos--both citizen and non-citizen--immigration has become one of the most pressing issues for Latino voters. That's why you'd think that the two camps would be eager to win over the unprecedented number of Latinos prepared to vote for the first time in battle ground states by sharing their solutions to our immigration system breakdown and not tip-toeing past the 12 million elephants in the room.
Could someone answer why this critical voting bloc is essentially being ignored on a key issue that actually affects all Americans? It is a critical factor to the economy - the labor issue - and at the same time it is a moral issue - mistreatment of undocumented migrants is unconscionable, especially when it goes under the guise of "patriotism". Where is "liberty and justice for all" when not having certain papers is equated with crimes like theft and murder? The anti-immigration backlash is just another facet of the Grand Old Party's legacy of hate and division painted over with the colors of a flag.