Tonight on CNN will be the 1st major Democratic Party Primary Presidential Debate, which will be moderated by Anderson Cooper, with additional questions to come from Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Juan Carlos Lopez.  Immigration topics certainly were a big part of the Republican Primary Debates, and will likely be among the main topics once again tonight for the Democrats.  Since most of the Democrats largely support Obama’s general aim to legalize much of the Illegal Immigrant population already in the United States, it is unlikely that there will be much time spent on that question.  However several other questions/topics will certainly be discussed.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. At the time, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) argued that “our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually”.  As it turns out the US now grants roughly 1 million immigrants permanent residency each year.  Over the past year, a number of companies have been in hot water for hiring foreign workers to replace American workers in tech positions. For example, The New York Times reports that Disney employees were forced to train their replacements, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India through the H-1B visa program. The workers were blindsided and called it “humiliating.” Similar replacements were reported at Toys “R” Us, Southern California Edison, Pfizer and other companies. Professor Ron Hira of Howard University said the H-1B program “has created a highly lucrative business model of bringing in cheaper H-1B workers to substitute for Americans.”  Nevertheless, some GOP presidential candidates want to increase the number of H-1B visas issued each year: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wants to triple the number of H-1B visas issued each year while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants to quintuple the number.  Along those lines is what annual caps should there be for legal immigration, and should the current high levels of permanent legal immigration at 1 million a year be curtailed, despite the demands for more immigration from the Chamber of Commerce and others. According to a recent Gallup survey, 60 percent of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the current level of immigration and only 7 percent of those who are dissatisfied say they want more immigration.

Another big topic within Immigration is the issue of local “Sanctuary” cities.  According to DHS, there are about 340 jurisdictions in the country that operate as sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. This has resulted in local authorities releasing approximately 1,000 criminal aliens per month last year. An alarming number of offenders — 2,320 — were arrested for new crimes after they were released.  When it came before the Senate, [former] Secretary [of State] Hillary Clinton, Sen. Sanders and [former Virginia] Sen. Webb, all voted against an amendment that would block federal funds from going to sanctuary cities. Last year, as governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, announced that the Baltimore city jail would stop honoring requests from federal authorities to hold illegal aliens until they could be deported. Just recently, the Clinton campaign came out against a bill in North Carolina that would bar sanctuary cities.  Should cities be allowed to shield illegal immigrants with a felony on their record?

President Obama has had to go it alone and create his Deferred Action program that grants work permits, Social Security accounts and other benefits to illegal aliens. Previously, he had said that the Constitution prevented him from acting unilaterally. Secretary Clinton recently said she would “go even further” and “want to do more.” The question that remains a hot topic is Does a president have legal authority to admit into the country anyone he or she wants, without congressional authority?  The Associated Press is also reporting that the Obama administration has “deported fewer immigrants over the past 12 months than at any time since 2006” and that “total deportations dropped 42 percent since 2012.” Nevertheless, in an interview with Telemundo last week, Secretary Clinton said she would be “less harsh and aggressive” than Obama in enforcing immigration laws. Last year, John Sandweg, the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the Obama administration, told the Los Angeles Times that “If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero — it’s just highly unlikely to happen.” So the question that Clinton needs to address is what’s the point of having any immigration laws if she were to become President?

President Obama, recently proposed an increase in the number of refugees the United States takes in each year. He has also ordered the U.S. government to admit no fewer than 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year. Some have suggested this could create a national security threat if the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or other terrorist groups are able to slip into the refugee population.  Other issues likely to be addressed will be the topic of “Anchor Babies” as well as whether changes to laws concerning VISA overstays need to be made, as well as how Employers nationwide should be using E-Verify.

We at North County Immigration look forward to watching the featured debate to see which candidate takes a firm position or offers solutions to America’s crumbled immigration system.  We will provide our commentary tomorrow so stay tuned.