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Presidential Election and Immigration Policy

Despite the roots of America descending from a multitude of countries around the world, immigration remains a heated issue among the American public and politicians.

Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have contrasting views on immigration, which could alone dramatically sway many voters, including Bloomsburg University students, in their choice of candidate.

Romney advocates legal immigration reforms for skilled workers and for families waiting to be reunited.  By attracting higher skilled immigrants, he says that the economic potential of America will be maximized.

He welcomes legal immigration into the nation but supports a more hardline position on unauthorized immigration. Romney said he opposes amnesty because it encourages illegal immigration and gives illegal immigrants an advantage over immigrants who follow policy guidelines.

In particular, Romney’s political views concerning immigration have not resonated well with Latino voters.

Bloomsburg University student, Abby Snyder, said she can understand some of the points Romney makes, but is unsure that she agrees with his entire stance on the issue.

“It can be difficult for Americans to compete for jobs with lower-wage immigrants in blue collar jobs,” she said. “I think that allowing higher skilled immigrant workers into America could be an effective way to boost the economy.”

However, she disagrees with mass deportation and thinks a smarter solution for immigration reform should be considered.

“Immigrants who are a part of our community and follow all American laws should be able to become a United States citizen more easily,” she said. “It seems immigrants are forced to jump through too many hoops and obstacles to live legally in the U.S.”

The Obama administration recently made changes to the immigration policy back in June that benefits illegal immigrants, according to The New York Times.

Under Obama’s altered immigration policy, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, applicants must prove that they entered the United States prior to the age of 16, that they have been in the country since June 2007, meet certain academic or military qualifications, and have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanors, along with other specific criteria.

If the qualifications are met, young undocumented immigrants will not be deported. The policy closely resembles the DREAM Act.

Polling from ImpreMedia and Latino Decisions found that 85% of Latino voters across the political spectrum supported the DREAM Act in February 2011.

A junior education major at Bloomsburg University, Katie Partridge, offers her opinion.

“America is a nation that was built from immigrants,” she said. “It’s wrong of politicians to make the process of U.S. citizenship so difficult for immigrant families.”

Overall, Americans’ views of immigration have grown more positive in the last decade. A Gallup inquiry found that most Americans, including majorities of non-Hispanic whites, African Americans , and Hispanics said that immigration is “a good thing for this country today.”

42% of Americans said in a June 2012 Gallup poll that immigration should be kept at its present level, with only 35% stating that it should be decreased.

Comparatively, the same poll conducted 7 years prior in 2005, found that 51% of Americans felt that immigration should be decreased.

Additionally, a second Gallup poll in June 2012 concluded that 66% of Americans felt that immigration is good for the country today. The same percentage said that immigrants should be allowed to remain in the country and eventually gain citizenship after paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check.

The views expressed in the polls seem also to correctly reflect the thoughts of many Bloomsburg University students.

“Immigration policies need to be updated and changed,” Katie Partridge said. “I don’t agree with every aspect of either candidate’s plans, but I think Obama is more pro-active in regards to the immigration issue. It’s a noteworthy difference.”