John Edwards on Immigration
2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)
Q: So who pays if they get sick and wind up in emergency rooms?
A: What I have done is strengthen the safety net of the public health system so that our public health clinics, our public hospitals will always be available. If that is married to comprehensive immigration reform, so that people who are living here undocumented actually have a chance to become American citizens, then I think they’ve got the opportunity to become part of the plan. There are a couple things I want to say, though. Obama spoke--and he’s right about this--about the importance of us being straightforward and being honest during the campaign. The truth is that there are three health care plans represented on this stage. Two are universal; one is not. His is not. Clinton’s is, and mine is. In order for the plan to be universal, it has to mandate coverage for everybody.
A: The studies show is there are a lot of things driving down wages. One of those things is the loss of good middle-class jobs, which has been accelerated under this administration. And I think there are a variety of things that are contributing to that. There are a whole range of things that we need to do if we actually want to save the middle class and strengthen the American economy.
A: They’re in a very vulnerable position. What we want to make certain is that we are enforcing the laws that apply to employers. This is not a short-term solution. I wish there were a clear short-term solution that would be effective. The answer to this is comprehensive immigration reform. That is ultimately the answer.
A: Well, the first point is, why is America not educating and training American workers to do these jobs? That’s the starting point. If American workers are actually competent to do those jobs, American workers should be doing those jobs. The whole purpose of the H1-B visa program is to bring people from other places that have to do jobs that we don’t have American workers to do.
A: First of all, I [oppose] these raids, and particularly the way they are being conducted, separating parents from children. I think the bottom line is that we need to reform the laws for immigration in this country so that everybody has a real and meaningful path to citizenship.
A: No, I don’t think it has. I mean, we want people to be licensed if they’re going to operate vehicles. If we have a path to citizenship, that anybody who’s on that path to citizenship, undocumented, should have a right to have a driver’s license. If they’re not making an effort to become an American citizen, then I think they shouldn’t have a driver’s license.
Q: What about in the interim? Should states be allowed to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?
A: It is not the job of the president to make that decision. That’s for states to decide. I personally would not be in favor of that because I think we need to make this part of immigration reform.
A: No, but I don’t accept the proposition that we’re not going to have comprehensive immigration reform. What I do support, and what I will do as president of the US, is move this country toward comprehensive immigration reform. And anyone who’s on the path to earning American citizenship should be able to have a driver’s license.
A: The answer’s yes, I would commit to do it, not just in my first year, but at the beginning of the Edwards administration. I think the president has a responsibility to do something about this hugely important issue. You know, when you walk into a Blockbuster to rent a movie, you don’t see anybody, but you hear a voice saying, “Welcome to Blockbuster.” We can figure out when somebody’s walking into a Blockbuster. It seems to me we can figure out when somebody’s coming into the US, and especially if we use the technology that’s available to us. And I think that’s what the focus should be on: more Border Patrol, better use of technology, & absolutely a path to earn citizenship for those who are living here & who are undocumented. But we also have to get at the underlying causes of the migration from Mexico, which means addressing the issue of poverty, education, health, the reason that so many are coming to the US.
A: We should be proud of the fact that we’ve had so many workers come into this country who deserve a path to earn citizenship & who are working to support their families. They have made America richer, culturally more diverse, & they are performing jobs that, in some cases, would be difficult to find others to perform. They’re an important part of our economy. We need to not just recognize the economic benefits of these workers, but understand in many cases they are being abused, they are being taken advantage of, their rights are not being protected. And it is enormously important that we have comprehensive immigration reform so that those who in fact are working 10 hours a day in 105-degree heat have the same sort of worker rights that other Americans have. They are no less human, and no less value as human beings, and they deserve those same rights.
Edwards will end the backlog of background checks for people who are already in this country and are applying to become lawful permanent residents and, eventually, citizens. Our immigration policies should bring families together, not keep them apart.
A: We should reform the immigration system so there is a clear road map to legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants who work hard and follow the law. At the same time, we should work with our ally, Mexico, to better control the border and stop illegal trafficking.
A: The whole notion of earned citizenship is something that I strongly support. I would expand the number of legal immigrants that can get into the country, which helps relieve some of this pressure that we have right now. Our relationship with Mexico and Pres. Fox is in the worst shape that we can imagine. And the result of that is, we don’t have the kind of security along our southern border that we need.
EDWARDS: Let me say a word about my personal experience with this issue. I grew up in a family where my father worked in a mill all of his life. And when I was young, we moved to a small town in rural North Carolina, which is where I grew up. That town is now half Hispanic.
My family moved to that town because my father, who has a high school education and is still living, believed that by working hard and doing the right thing that his kids would have the opportunity for a better life. These Hispanic families? They came to Robbins, North Carolina, for exactly the same reason. And those who came and live there, who work hard and are responsible, they have earned the right to be American citizens.
|Other candidates on Immigration:
|John Edwards on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader