Presidential Debate Fails to Address Diversity in Immigration Issues

:Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during United States presidential election 2016.

From NBC News:

by Melissa Noel

Immigration reform in America has been a major issue during the 2016 presidential election, yet the final presidential debate on Wednesday covered no new ground.

Donald Trump reaffirmed his stance on building a border wall and support for the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, asserting that one of his first acts as president will be to get the "bad hombres" out of the country.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton promised to institute comprehensive immigration reform that would "bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows" and provide a path to citizenship during her first 100 days in office. 

However, neither candidate moved the conversation beyond immigrant law enforcement, again failing to tackle both the intricate complexities and diversity of the issue with further specifics.

"The immigration debate focuses largely on immigration enforcement, who to let in, who not to let in, but there are other issues facing immigrants. This was a missed opportunity to highlight those," Carl Lipscombe, Policy and Legal Manager at Black Alliance For Just Immigration (BAJI), told NBCBLK. 

"I think there could have been a real opportunity to try and target, in particular African and Caribbean immigrants, but they have just lumped them together as Black people and ignored a lot of their issues," Dr. Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science, Fordham University said.

In addition, Lipscombe says that the lack of either candidate affirming programs and policies that would benefit immigrants is proof of the lack of recognition that immigration is a diverse issue. Not all immigrants are of one ethnic background and not all are undocumented or criminals. 

"Definitely this year, but in general immigration is framed solely as a Latino issue when it isn't. Immigration is an issue faced by people in the U.S. from all ethnicities, but many are invisible in the conversation, " he said.

A new report co-authored by BAJI and New York University Law School's Immigrant Rights Clinic highlights the many challenges faced by Black immigrants — who at a population of 3.7 million living in the United States, now account for nearly 10 percent of the nation's Black population overall.

The State of Black Immigrants report found that Black immigrants in the U.S. — a population comprised mainly of Black people from African and Caribbean countries—are more likely to be detained for criminal convictions than the immigrant population overall. Black immigrants are also three times as likely to be detained while their cases are pending, according to the report. The report on Black immigrants also examines data, showing that although Black immigrants have similar educational levels of White and Asian immigrants, they have the highest levels of unemployment, and one in five live below the poverty line. 

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