June, 1995: The White House today welcomed a Federal advisory panel’s recommendation to cut legal immigration by one-third. But the proposals met fierce opposition from Hispanic, Asian-American, Roman Catholic and Jewish groups, as well as from the National Association of Manufacturers.
Barbara Jordan, chairwoman of the panel, the Commission on Immigration Reform, delivered the plan to President Clinton, and he congratulated the panel. “Consistent with my own views, the commission’s recommendations are pro-family, pro-work, pro-naturalization,” he said.
Mr. Clinton said the panel had “laid out a road map for Congress to consider.” His press secretary, Michael D. McCurry, said that “the President indicated to Barbara Jordan today that he will support such reductions,” which would represent the biggest change in immigration policy in more than 40 years.
In addition, Mr. Clinton said the proposal “appears to reflect a balanced immigration policy that makes the most of our diversity while protecting the American work force so that we can better compete in the emerging global economy.” More here.
*** For an 8 minute video clip of then Senator Barack Obama on the matter of immigration and the border wall, go here. In a separate speech on April 3, 2006, Barack Obama included these concepts:
The American people are a welcoming and generous people. But those who enter our country illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of law. And because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. Americans are right to demand better border security and better enforcement of the immigration laws.
To begin with, the agencies charged with border security would receive new technology, new facilities, and more people to stop, process, and deport illegal immigrants. But while security might start at our borders, it doesn’t end there. Millions of undocumented immigrants live and work here without our knowing their identity or their background. We need to strike a workable bargain with them. They have to acknowledge that breaking our immigration laws was wrong. They must pay a penalty, and abide by all of our laws going forward. They must earn the right to stay over a 6-year period, and then they must wait another 5 years as legal permanent residents before they become citizens.
But in exchange for accepting those penalties, we must allow undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and step on a path toward full participation in our society. In fact, I will not support any bill that does not provide this earned path to citizenship for the undocumented population–not just for humanitarian reasons; not just because these people, having broken the law, did so for the best of motives, to try and provide a better life for their children and their grandchildren; but also because this is the only practical way we can get a handle on the population that is within our borders right now.
And before any guestworker is hired, the job must be made available to Americans at a decent wage with benefits. Employers then need to show that there are no Americans to take these jobs. I am not willing to take it on faith that there are jobs that Americans will not take. There has to be a showing. If this guestworker program is to succeed, it must be properly calibrated to make certain that these are jobs that cannot be filled by Americans, or that the guestworkers provide particular skills we can’t find in this country. The full text is here.
In part from Politifact:
The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, authorized about 700 miles of fencing along certain stretches of land between the border of the United States and Mexico.
The act also authorized the use of more vehicle barriers, checkpoints and lighting to curb illegal immigration, and the use of advanced technology such as satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles.
At the time the act was being considered, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer were all members of the Senate. (Schumer of New York is now the Senate minority leader.)
Obama, Clinton, Schumer and 23 other Democratic senators voted in favor of the act when it passed in the Senate by a vote of 80 to 19.