Finally! It took three tries, but the topic of immigration was finally mentioned in Wednesday's third and final presidential debate. What's that? You say you missed it? Let's look at the transcript:
McCain (in response to Obama): You're running ads right now that say that I oppose federal funding for stem cell research. I don't. You're running ads that misportray completely my position on immigration.
Yes folks, that's all. The word "immigration" was finally brought up in the debates, but it was only mentioned as one word. No discussion. No debate on this important issue. Just one word. And truth be told, McCain's not the only one who can complain about being portrayed inaccurately in immigration ads.
Obama and McCain's views on immigration have been relatively similar. Obama's immigration reform policy favors a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and tougher penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers. McCain co-sponsored the failed 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill that proposed a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants, although he has since increased his focus on border security as the first step to immigration reform. While the message seems to be the same for both candidates, all similarities end in their Spanish-language ads.
In Spanish-language radio and TV ads, each candidate has presented himself to Hispanics in the "Latin quartet" of states (Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico) as the true champion of comprehensive immigration reform. Neither tries to get to the heart of the issues in the Hispanic community with straightforward ads discussing policies and plans; instead, both camps have resorted to mud-slinging.
One of McCain's ads claims that Obama supported efforts to kill last year's failed immigration reform bill, when in fact, Obama supported the legislation and it was McCain's own party that put the kibosh on the bill. On Obama's side, one of his ads claims that McCain caved to the anti-immigrant folks in the Republican Party and turned his back on the Latino community. Another Obama ad puts McCain together with Rush Limbaugh (Limbaugh is not a fan of McCain's) and quotes Limbaugh out of context with the result of making McCain look like a racist.
Enough already. Although immigration is one of the top six election issues for Latino voters and impacts all Americans, it has taken a back seat to other issues. We are not going to hear the immigration discussion we need to hear while the economy, health care and Iraq are on the minds of the nation's voters. Let's hope that whomever is chosen to lead this country will live up to his promise to make immigration reform a top priority.
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