US: Electoral Topic of Immigration

Not since the U.S. presidential election of 1992 has there been another as important for Mexico as the one that will take place next November. When Democrat Bill Clinton won the election in 1992, he had already negotiated and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement and its ratification was pending in Congress. The sitting Republican President George Bush had lost the election, and there was uncertainty about the position that the new Democratic president would adopt. Nevertheless, Bill Clinton understood the importance of the treaty and pledged his political capital on the ratification of the agreement signed by the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The crossroads of the presidential and legislative election of 2016 is unique, but is equally important. Immigration has a key role. The U.S. immigration policy does not work, and during the last two administrations there was a popular consensus on it. However, the bipartisan effort headed by Republican John McCain and Democrat Ted Kennedy failed during the presidency of George W. Bush. Conservative Republicans destroyed it and the affair remained pending, to be addressed during the Obama presidency. The politics were polarized in Congress and Republicans blocked all possibility of immigration reform. So the topic of interest for both countries in November of 2016 is immigration policy, reform of which has been stagnant and postponed over the last 20 years and three presidential terms.

The issue is not small, if you consider that close to 12 million undocumented immigrants (the majority Mexican, at more that 6 million) live and work in the U.S. It is stressed that they entered without documentation, without authorization, and are called “illegals.” What is not said is that if they crossed the border it is because [they wanted to find] work; also, their work has contributed in a very important way to the American economy. Donald Trump insistently stated that he will deport all of them, all 12 million people. It’s unimaginable!

This unresolved problem has been politically utilized by Republican candidate Donald Trump in order to arouse hatred and to disqualify, verbally assault and insult Latino immigrants, in particular Mexicans, whom he has said are criminals, rapists and drug traffickers. Trump’s brand of electoral politics are those that divide, and there have already been troubling implications and confrontations, like those cries heard among his supporters of “build the wall” and “kill them all.” Serious hatred created by Trump!

One of the hottest issues has been of the young “dreamers” who arrived undocumented in America with their parents and children, who studied and spoke perfect English, and who have been integrated — but who were not given even minimal rights to study as residents without threat of deportation. An enormous crisis has been unleashed in the universities after the Republicans in Congress shut down the so-called Dream Act. In 2012, President Obama issued an executive order through which the possible deportation of these young people would be deferred and the right to study and work be granted. This order, known as DACA, has given 820,000 young people the opportunity to study and work. The presidential candidates have already spoken about it. Hillary Clinton will extend DACA while Donald Trump has shouted repeatedly that he will cancel it. [Either of them] can do it, if they become president.

Donald Trump is also going against free trade that has brought many benefits to the U.S., and also to Mexico. It is said that American companies work with China and other countries. For her part, it is very possible Hillary Clinton intends to make some changes to the treaty without opposing it. She is not an isolationist and understands the importance of having international treaties. Trump vociferously doesn’t.

Finally, you cannot go without mentioning the enormous crisis the candidate Donald Trump has brought to the Republican Party, which is going to be left behind. A wave of Republicans have abandoned the GOP because of the postulations of Donald Trump, for his politics of ignorance and confrontation, for going against the policies of his own party, for veiled suggestions of assassination against the Democratic candidate and for absurd accusations against President Obama. Hundreds of Republicans have made it public that they will not vote for Trump; many will vote for Hillary Clinton, according to many American newspapers.

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