Yet, their policies towards immigration are surprisingly similar. Both candidates have shifted their policies from the polarizing liberal and conservative stance to a middle of the road approach in hopes of gaining a national consensus.
One of the initial problems that needs to be addressed in the immigration issue is how to secure the border. There are additional questions of costs and departmental responsibilities for stopping the flow of illegal entry. Both candidates voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which calls for the construction of 700 miles of fence along the Mexican border (Carter et al.). While both candidates profess securing the border as a priority, McCain is more detailed in his planning. McCain has said that securing the border is the "first and foremost priority" (qtd. in Carter et al.). He has called for the Governors of border states to be the responsible party for certifying that the border is secure (McCain). However, the republican candidate makes no mention of how this would be enforced or what federal legislation would enact this requirement.
Both candidates call for increasing the viability of the existing infrastructure as a means to enforce border security. McCain states that he will divert funding to US Attorney's offices, implement Homeland Security software and infrastructure, and deploy unmanned aerial drones to patrol the border (McCain). Obama's policy would "support additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry" (Obama and Biden 2). Obama and Biden additionally believe that we require "additional Customs and Border Protection agents equipped with better technology and real-time intelligence" (Obama and Biden 2). Neither candidate tells the public the cost of their programs nor how they would be funded.
Public policy debates often become polarized on either right wing or left wing interests. In fact, conservatives have been critical of the traditional liberal policy positions on immigration. Newt Gingrich has stated, "The elites on the left oppose border control, oppose English as the official government language, want to find a way to allow everyone here illegally to stay, all while prohibiting illegal immigration in the future". Yet, these remarks made in January 2008 may only be indicative of how far the right has moved towards the center on immigration during this election year.
The very positions that Gingrich criticizes are very similar to both the Obama and the McCain stances on these issues. McCain "Supports a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines" (qtd. in Carter et al.). Obama's policy states that he will "support a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens" (Obama). Both candidates "Co-Sponsored the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2007, which would allow states to give illegal immigrants in-state tuition for higher education and let the homeland security secretary confer legal resident status on some illegal immigrant students" (Carter et al.).Both policies are nearly identical and are in some agreement and some opposition to what Gingrich criti