Missed in the Debate

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By Maria Fotopoulos

Maria is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow who focuses on the impacts of growth on biodiversity. Find her on Twitter | in | FB.

The writer’s views are her own.


 

October 6, 2012

Even at 90 minutes, the first debate between incumbent Obama and candidate Romney had not even a nodding reference to one of the big issues facing the nation – immigration. (Yes, I know, there are SO MANY big issues.)

This debate was billed as one about domestic issues. So it seems immigration would have been an obvious debate area. I probably shouldn’t be surprised though. Immigration was not part of the 2008 debate either – and it was just as important then. But what’s so plain goofy is that the immigration issue is so clearly connected to jobs, which is the issue American voters are most concerned about now.

We have an estimated 10 to 30 million (who really knows?) people working and living in the country illegally (without papers, undocumented – whatever euphemism sounds better to you if you’re inclined to rewriting reality and turning this situation into the new flavor of civil rights).

The U.S. also admits about 1 million people legally every year – again, many of these working in jobs here. We’ve also gone through years of job shedding as we’ve outsourced, first, manufacturing jobs, followed by a range of other jobs, to China, India and other global locales.

In addition, we’ve had a dramatic economic crash led off by the Bear Stearns collapse in which we’re still roiling, resulting in more than 20 million Americans still unemployed.

Against this backdrop, how can we not discuss immigration and developing a real immigration policy that takes into account American workers?

That unchecked growth in the labor pool lowers wages is the simple economics of supply and demand. But there’s also reliable research showing the negative impacts of all this growth from the addition of foreign workers in our labor market. And on the lower end of the imported labor, we have additional demands on government services – so we’re not making it any easier to pay down our debt.

Unfortunately, neither party wants to address this in a manner that the majority of Americans want. Why is this? The easy answers usually repeated are that Republicans want cheap labor, and Democrats want the votes. The latter always confuses me, because, theoretically, workers in the U.S. who aren’t citizens can’t vote.

So, are we talking about some mass of voters that will be created on down the line through an amnesty, who will be beholden to the Democratic Party? Or, are these “votes” those of current registered Democrats who see the millions here illegally as their new civil rights cause célèbre?

I don’t know the answers to that, but what I do know, I reiterate, is that our political parties are not addressing immigration issues in a way that most Americans want.

Even more immigration-related issues will rear up in coming years, most imminently related to the President’s summer edict to allow work permits for potentially several million illegal immigrants under the age of 31. There’s no doubt in my mind that the ultimate intention is to convey citizenship to this group. The addition of several million citizens has the potential to add millions more to the U.S. population through family reunification.

So I can only encourage the millions of Americans concerned about the deleterious impacts of immigration to contact the planners and participants of the upcoming two presidential and one vice presidential debates and hammer home the need for an immigration and population policy that benefits the American worker and that will lead to a sustainable country. Tell them you want immigration discussed in the debates!

Next presidential and VP debates:

Thursday, October 11

Centre College, Danville, Kentucky

Martha Raddatz, moderator

Tuesday, October 16

Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York

Candy Crowley, moderator

Monday, October 22

Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida

Bob Schieffer, moderator

Email: facethenation@cbsnews.com

Commission on Presidential Debates

Email: comments@debates.org

Mitt Romney Campaign

Barack Obama Campaign

If you missed the Wednesday night debate, read the full transcript here.

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