WBUR

Brown, Warren Split On Immigration Solutions

In this May 25, 2010, file photo, activists march from the State House en route to Sen. Scott Brown's office to ask for his support for the federal immigration law known as the DREAM Act. (AP File)

In this May 25, 2010, file photo, activists march from the State House en route to Sen. Scott Brown’s office to ask for his support for the federal immigration law known as the DREAM Act. (AP File)

BOSTON — For our ongoing series on policy issues in the U.S. Senate campaign, we turn now to immigration. This is an area in which there are clear differences between Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

But first of all, here’s where Brown and Warren agree: They both say the current immigration system doesn’t work.

Brown: “Well, obviously it’s a problem. What’s the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge is the system’s broken.”

Warren: “You know, it’s time to sit down and have an adult conversation about this.”

They also both think we should try harder to keep smart people in the country. For example, Brown co-sponsored a bill that would help foreign students studying math, science and engineering get visas to work here.

Warren wants to do something similar. She says we should use immigration policy to retain talented immigrants who can improve our economy.

But that’s where their agreement ends. They diverge dramatically when it comes to the harder question: what to do about the millions of people living here without papers.

“The differences are stark,” said Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University. “It doesn’t surprise me at all. The two parties are split, and this division between Brown and Warren reflects that.”

Berry says it’s notable that Brown has gone with the party position on this issue.

“He chooses his issues carefully where he’s going to be a moderate and where he’s going to be a conservative,” Berry said. “On this issue, he’s going with the national party, I think because he didn’t see himself getting any Hispanic votes in the state.”

Take the DREAM Act, for example. President Obama likes this proposal because it would give illegal immigrant children a path to citizenship if they attend college or join the military. Brown voted against it.

“Listen, the DREAM Act is a backdoor amnesty,” Brown said. “While I’m very much in favor of legal immigration, to provide backdoor amnesty for people, I can’t support it.”

The DREAM Act failed in the Senate. Warren says she would have supported it.

“This is about young people who did nothing wrong,” Warren said. “They’ve lived here for much of their lives. And now they want to go to college or they want to serve in the military.”

Since the DREAM Act failed, Obama came up with his own temporary fix. He’s given two-year work visas to certain young illegal immigrants.

Warren applauded Obama’s action. But Brown says Obama’s policy will encourage more people to come to the U.S. illegally. He says we should secure the border, and do away with other programs that benefit illegal immigrants, such as in-state tuition. He does want to simplify the process for foreigners who want to move to the United States.

“You have people who’ve been trying to get through the system seven, eight, nine years, and there’s a disincentive to do it legally. And that’s the problem,” Brown said.

Brown wants more immigrants from certain nationalities to move here. He wrote a bill that would quadruple the number of Irish nationals entering the country each year. Why Irish nationals?

“You have to start somewhere,” Brown said. “And it was a group that was affected dramatically when they changed the immigration laws a while ago — only upwards of 2,500 work visas [are] allowed. This would actually open it up and provide additional opportunities. And as I said, it’s a good way to start.”

Warren says piecemeal approaches like Brown’s won’t fix the problem. She says we have to take a comprehensive strategy that addresses both legal and illegal immigrants. And she says there should be a path for illegal immigrants who follow the laws to become legal.

“It’s partly about making sure that people obey the law,” Warren said. “It’s about saying the people who are here need to be caught up on taxes. They need to go to the back of the line.”

Unlike other policy areas, immigration is an issue where the candidates offer a clear choice. And those choices follow the traditional Republican and Democratic positions on illegal immigrants: Warren says we should find a way to make people legal; Brown says no way.

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SV66AVTTDCZINPLPTM7V6NFVSM Robb Moffett

    In 1995, Democrat Senator Barbara
    Jordan headed a bi partisan committee to study the problem of
    immigration and find solutions. After much work, her committee came
    up with over a dozen ways to

    end our immigration problems. Chief
    among her ideas was a national ID card to be used only

    twice in a citizens life, which would
    be when they were applying for a job or for government benefits.
    Cutting off the jobs and benefit magnet would cause those here
    illegally to return the way they came.

    All of her ideas were applauded by the
    Clinton administration, yet none were ever implemented

    by him or any succeeding president. In
    the place of Jordan’s commission recommendations, came

    only calls for more and more amnesties
    by ethnic advocates and those that benefit from massive

    immigration and then pass on all the
    social,economic and environmental costs to our

    communities.

    Those citizens that dare to speak up
    for advocating less immigration are smeared as
    racist,xenophobes,nativist,anti immigrant bigots.

    We are not a nation of immigrants, we
    are a nation of citizens that have been betrayed by

    the media and BOTH parties on
    immigration for decades.

    We deserve better.

  • J__o__h__n

    I thought this was the best coverage of the race so far.  It was focused on the issues and not the foolishness that has been the focus of much of the reporting.  The only part of the story I didn’t like was hearing that it was her last. 

  • Sinclair

    The real issue is if you vote for Scott Brown, it’s a vote toward the Republican agenda for controlling women’s reproductive rights, eliminating gay rights, preventing the poor from voting by implimenting an I.D. system, eliminating health care, and on and on.

    • Western MA Republican

      How does a voting ID system prevent the poor from voting?  How does a Voter ID system prevent anyone from voting?

      • Sinclair

        In certain states, if you don’t have an I.D, you can’t vote.  Check out the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio if you haven’t been keeping up with this current issue describing the latest Republican tactic to block voting.  It’s reminiscent of voter literacy tests used to block Blacks from voting in the South.

  • Sinclair

    Why didn’t Scott Brown express his outrage last year when Paul Ryan sided with Todd Akin on this subject?

    Rachel Maddow quote:
    “Paul Ryan co-sponsored a bill last year with Todd Akin to redefine rape in
    federal law…It created a new category they called ‘forcible rape.’ Paul Ryan’s
    record on abortion is just about identical to Todd Akin’s record.”

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