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Immigration & The Final Presidential Debate

This week marked the third and final presidential debate of 2016 and candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were finally given the opportunity to speak about immigration—a significant topic that has been given only passing attention in prior debates. Below, we take a look at some of the debate highlights and where the candidates' positions lie on this critical issue

Trump's Wall vs. Clinton's Reform

Donald Trump revealed that he still intends to build a wall along America's southern border with Mexico, a proposal that has long been derided by Democrats and immigration advocates. While he touted America as "a country of laws," Clinton reiterated her plan to secure the border, but also provide meaningful immigration reform for the millions of undocumented, law-abiding residents who have already built lives here in the U.S. "That’s why I’m introducing immigration reform within the first hundred days with a path to citizenship," she said, adding that her plan focuses on "bringing undocumented immigrants out from the shadows," and legitimizing their participation in America's economy.

The Issue of "Open Borders"

Moderator Chris Wallace also brought up a prior speech in which Hillary Clinton seemingly called for "open borders," a hot-button phrase that Trump quickly jumped on, as well. Clinton, however, corrected Wallace, saying that in that speech she was actually talking about sharing energy solutions with bordering nations, not immigration policies—a critical bit of context that would have been clear if he had "read the rest of the sentence."

"Bad Hombres"

In perhaps the most quoted moment of the third debate, Donald Trump told the audience "we have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get ’em out. We’re getting the drugs. They’re getting the cash." Trump's rhetoric here is in line with the controversial comments he made about Mexicans being rapists at the start of his campaign. Clinton rebutted with a sober take on Trump's proposed mass deportation, which she believes would require law enforcement agencies to round up undocumented residents and put them on trains and buses—an idea, she said, that would "rip our country apart."

Obama's Deportations

Trump's closing rebuttal to Clinton was that President Obama had deported millions of people over the course of his presidency, a fact the democrats do not like to talk about. That claim, while perhaps mischaracterized, is actually true: Obama has deported more people than prior presidents thanks to a retooling of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE), an agency tasked with "identifying, arresting, and removing convicted criminals in prisons and jails, and also at-large arrests in the interior." Trump failed to mention that the Obama Administration has also introduced progressive policies, like DACA, that are aimed at protecting law-abiding residents and giving them a pathway towards citizenship.

Are you facing an urgent immigration matter? If so, we invite you to contact us at Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP today. Our dedicated and knowledgeable Lake Charles immigration lawyers have helped countless individuals, families, and businesses solve their immigration issues and assert their legal status here in the U.S.

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