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"A backdoor amnesty" is what Dan Stein calls the Obama administration's plan to not deport immigrants who've lived in the U.S. for years who also haven't committed crimes.
Stein shares his perspective on deportations and immigration reform with Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson, following our interview Tuesday with Enrique Acevedo of Univision, who supports the deportation policy changes.
Since 1988, Stein has been president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which opposes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
On "minimizing" the felony status of illegal immigration
"The polar extremes of anyone who's in the country illegally should be excluded, and anybody who comes in illegally should be allowed to stay, leaves no nuance in the center. The point is, there's an effort going on right now to minimize the idea that illegal immigration a crime. Jeb Bush, by saying it's an act of love, is trying to minimize the fact that it's a felony under federal law. And there's a further effort to try to minimize the moral consequences of people who jump the line in front of millions of people who jump the line in front of millions of people to try to grab a shot at residency in the U.S. Ultimately, though, many of the people advocating on behalf of the illegal immigrants are saying the don't really care whether they become citizens, they just want to be able to work here and send money back home. That's not the traditional model for what immigration's all about in this country. Assimilation is a part of the naturalization process, and we should expect people who come to aspire to become citizens, and respect for law is the cornerstone of what makes a new citizen a good citizen. And if people have shown a routine willingness to break the law, then that's not a good sign."
On how he believes illegal immigration should be dealt with
"People who are here illegally find ways to adjust status — through marriage to a U.S. citizen or some other vehicle. There are people who simply don't have the means of doing it who can leave the way they came back in. If the argument is that Obama is the deporter in chief and he's deporting a million-plus illegal immigrants every year, then it's not a big deal to ramp up enforcement and discourage most people here either illegally to go back home, or for people who have strong equities, and who have been here for a very long period of time, under extraordinary circumstances, you would maybe consider a case-by-case adjustment, or a statute of limitations similar to what's already in the immigration law."
On Latino sentiment about immigration reform
"FAIR doesn't agree with the idea that Latinos all support high levels of mass and illegal immigration across our border, or that it should be rewarded with an amnesty. And there's nothing about the polling data that suggests that Latinos vote immigration as their number-one issue. In the 2010 election, it was clear: Americans voted for strong, state and local cooperation with effective federal immigration law enforcement. In 2012, the argument was made — speciously, we believe — that somehow, because there was a heavy skew toward Obama among the Latino vote, that somehow, the Republicans had been punished for that. We don't see the empirical evidence to back that up. What we do see is that there is a strong, partisan interest among the Democrats in trying to galvanize Latinos around the idea that anybody who supports strong border and immigration controls is somehow anti-Latino. The idea that there's one class of people who can jump in front of 30 to 40 million people around the world, who have waited in line and patiently respected our system and our borders — that's just not the American way."
This story aired on April 24, 2014.
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