Immigration: The Forgotten Issue of Election '08

Is immigration still a big issue in this country? Or has it been pushed aside by Wall Street woes, rising unemployment, high gas and food prices, and other matters of the pocketbook?

One place you haven't seen the issue discussed much is the presidential election. That's primarily because neither John McCain nor Barack Obama has an interest in broaching the subject.

Oh, the campaigns are tweaking each other with dueling Spanish-language radio and television ads. The McCain-Palin campaign fired first with an ad accusing Barack Obama of helping to kill immigration reform to placate labor unions. The Obama-Biden team returned fire with an ad trying to link McCain to rightwing nativists in the Republican Party. But the whole point of these ads being in Spanish is so they operate under the radar of most voters, who speak English.

There are three reasons for the campaigns' immigration blackout.

First, while there are differences on aspects of the issue such as drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants (Obama supports, McCain opposes) or the DREAM Act, which allows undocumented immigrants to earn legalization by attending college (Obama supports, McCain opposes), the candidates agree on the need for comprehensive immigration reform that combines border enforcement, guest workers, and earned legalization. So there isn't much to argue about.