(Photo : Reuters)
New York City mayoral candidates Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio may not agree about much, but they're seemingly united on at least one issue: immigration reform. The issue of immigration reform is a hot topic with politicians these days. Following the end of the partial government shutdown, President Obama has made it his mission to have immigration reform passed in Congress this year.
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According to ABC Local 7 News, nearly half a million people in New York City are believed to be undocumented immigrants. So where do Lhota and de Blasio stand on immigration reform? Based on their campaign websites, the two candidates appear to be staunch supporters of overhauling the immigration system.
In a statement released on his campaign website, Lhota expressed his support for comprehensive immigration reform and declared himself a strong advocate of the Senate’s immigration reform bill, which was passed in June of this year.
“It’s absurd that we are a nation of immigrants with a failed immigration policy,” Lhota states on his website. “I am a strong supporter of the U.S. Senate’s immigration reform plan and have urged the House of Representatives to take swift action so this comprehensive legislation can finally become law.”
He continues, “New York City has a proud tradition of caring for our immigrants and as mayor, I will sign the Mayoral Executive Order to continue the City’s policy of providing needed services. I will also establish a municipal ID card that would allow our immigrants opportunities to better assimilate into the fabric of the city and take advantages of various critical services that require identification.”
Likewise, Lhota’s opponent de Blasio also declares himself a staunch supporter of immigration reform. During a recent campaign outing, de Blasio spoke alongside elected officials and immigrant rights activists to voice his support for the immigrant community in New York City.
“Immigration made us great, it made us strong, it made us the entrepreneurial envy of the world, it made us the creative capital of the world. It made us a place where diversity is natural-where we speak every language and we think that’s normal and good and right. Immigration made us the best and strongest city on earth,” de Blasio said, according to his campaign website.
“If our national government doesn’t understand that, we will do what we can to establish the kind of laws that actually respect everyone who lives in the city of New York: our neighbors, our friends, those we love,” he continues.
Both candidates have laid out their plans to aid the immigrant community living in New York City. The two candidates promise to establish ID cards for the undocumented to allow them to better integrate themselves into the community. De Blasio goes one step further by promising to allow undocumented immigrants access to New York driver’s licenses to make streets safer “by getting undocumented people who are already driving on our streets into driver’s education classes and covered by auto insurance.”
The Democratic candidate also outlines other ways he plans to help immigrants, including ending cooperation with federal "Detainer Requests" on minor violations, improving school systems for non-English speaking immigrant students and providing legal help for those hoping to become citizens.
Meanwhile, his Republican counterpart proposes a vaguer plan. “Additionally, I have laid out a comprehensive vision for a strong economy, improved education system and safe streets free from violent criminals,” Lhota states on his website. “We must ensure that New Yorkers from all five boroughs and all nationalities, ethnicities and backgrounds, have access to quality education, good-paying jobs that can support a family and safe neighborhoods.”
Just how the winner of the mayoral race actually addresses immigration reform in New York City remains to be seen. The two will go head-to-head in their last debate before the election on Oct. 29 in a televised debate sponsored by NBC and Telemundo, airing at 7 p.m. EST. The debate’s moderators and panelists are Melissa Russo, David Ushery, Jorge Ramos and Michael Howard Saul. The mayoral election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.