What’s at stake

The thing about immigration is that, as a political issue, it cuts both ways.

Sanctuary cities?

Many Democrats praise them, applauding steps to protect contributing, law-abiding immigrants who lack proper documentation to live and work here.

Many Republicans condemn sanctuary cities — Philadelphia among them — as places that deliberately ignore law-breaking migrants who need to be identified, arrested, and deported.

Nationally, President Trump generally has had his way on immigration, implementing policies to reduce the number of people coming into this country illegally as well as legally. Those moves tend to be supported or condemned depending on one's voter registration.

The election will help determine whether Trump will continue to chip away at immigration, implementing restrictions wherever possible, or whether he'll face stronger resistance from those who want a fast, meaningful turn in direction.

Key races

U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania: In Pennsylvania, the race where immigration cuts deepest is also the one where it's unlikely to matter.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is being challenged by Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, known for his hard-line approach to immigration. It's a reputation he built as mayor of Hazleton, where he cracked down on undocumented people. On the campaign trail, he has railed against sanctuary cities.

But polls show the more-moderate Casey is ahead by double digits.

Casey has proposed doubling the number of border-patrol agents and using technology to enhance 24-hour border security. He's also said that it's unrealistic to consider trying to deport 11 million undocumented people, and called for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding migrants.

Casey was stung in October when an undocumented mother of four staged a sit-in in his Philadelphia office, prompting the senator to issue a three-page document listing all he has done to try to help the family.

Pennsylvania governor: In the governor's race, Republican Scott Wagner has made a point of attacking sanctuary cities, including Philadelphia, and wants legislation to block local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Sanctuary cities like Philadelphia generally decline to help ICE enforce federal immigration laws.

Polls show incumbent Democratic Gov. Wolf ahead by about 16 points.

Latest developments

No immigration concern has resonated more loudly in the lead-up to the voting than the border separations of migrant children from their parents. With even some supporters questioning whether Trump had gone too far, the president rescinded his executive order to pull families apart.

Still, several hundred children have yet to be reunified with their families, despite a court order.

Other presidential actions likewise carry national and local impacts.

Last month the president set the annual cap on the number of refugee admissions at 30,000 — a historic low that follows the previous historic low of 45,000, down from 110,000 under President Obama.

In the same vein — and here immigration advocates saw a big win — a federal judge stopped the administration from kicking out thousands of immigrants who had legally come to America from ravaged homelands.

The temporary injunction, issued on Oct. 3, offered a reprieve to about 320,000 migrants across the country, and thousands in the Philadelphia region, who have built full lives and vibrant communities, and who are raising their American-born children.

The administration sought to end what's called Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua. TPS, as it is known, allows people from 10 countries to live and work in the U.S. because of war, floods, droughts, epidemics or armed conflict in their home nations.

Additional resources

Other key issues in Pennsylvania and New Jersey races