Declared Republican Candidates on the Issues – IMMIGRATION

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There are so many Republicans in the race right now towards the White House, that it can get confusing remembering who stands for what. With that being said, we will try and put together a weekly article on a specific issue and where the candidate stands on said issue. Because Immigration is a hot topic right now, we thought that would be a good place to start. The candidates who are the strongest supporters of secure borders and are against illegal immigration are listed first. There are six contenders who have stayed strong on this particular issue.  After the six listed below, you will find the “softies” and who have proven through their statements and/or actions that they are either very much for amnesty or have been wishy-washy on where they stand with it. As you will see, some of the candidates have “flip/flopped” on the issue of illegal immigration by their actions. Very interesting. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of politicians who say whatever they think the audience wants to hear while doing whatever it is they want to do. Over it.


Ted Cruz

  • In 2014, Ted Cruz sponsored S.2666 – the Protect Children and Families Through the Rule of Law Act, which was “A bill to prohibit future consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals or work authorization for aliens who are not in lawful status, to facilitate the expedited processing of minors entering the United States across the southern border, and to require the Secretary of Defense to reimburse States for National Guard deployments in response to large-scale border crossings of unaccompanied alien children from noncontiguous countries.”
  • Cruz voted against comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. S.744 – the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act passed the Senate on June 27, 2013.

Ben Carson

  • In response to the July 2, 2015, shooting death of a woman in San Francisco, California, by a Mexican citizen who had been deported five times, Ben Carson advocated for the end of sanctuary cities where local law enforcement does not enforce federal immigration law.
  • On June 17, 2014, Carson proposed the following solutions to the immigration system: Creating a national guest-worker program similar to Canada’s. He wrote, “Noncitizens would have to apply for a guest-worker permit and have a guaranteed job awaiting them. Taxes would be paid at a rate commensurate with other U.S. workers and special visas would allow for easy entry and egress across borders. Guest-worker status would be granted to individuals and not to groups. People already here illegally could apply for guest-worker status from outside of the country. This means they would have to leave first. They should in no way be rewarded for having broken our laws, but if they are wise, they will arrange with their employer before they leave to immediately offer them a legal job as soon as their application is received. When they return, they still would not be U.S. citizens, but they would be legal, and they would be paying taxes. Only jobs that are vacant as a result of a lack of interest by American citizens should be eligible for the guest-worker program.”
  • Severe punishment for companies who hire “illegal immigrants.”
  • Securing America’s borders.
  • Carson also argued that “We must create a system that disincentivizes illegal immigration and upholds the rule of law while providing us with a steady stream of immigrants from other nations who will strengthen our society.”

John Kasich

  • John Kasich said that he supported imposing limits on the number of people allowed to immigrate into the United States. He also encouraged naming English as the official national language and opposed automatically giving U.S. citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born in the United States.
  • The governor voted in support of eliminating benefits under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for illegal immigrants, providing more temporary visas for skilled immigrant workers and hiring more border patrol officers.

Carly Fiorina

  • According to her 2010 Senate campaign website, Carly Fiorina supported securing the border and “developing an effective visa program and temporary worker program to support legal immigrants who fulfill important roles in our nation’s economy.”
  • During an April 2010 interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Fiorina commented on Arizona’s immigration law. She said, “The people of Arizona did what they felt they had to do. I support their need to protect their citizens. But what we ought to be talking about is the federal government needs to secure the border.”
  • During the interview she also said, “I do not support amnesty.”

Rick Santorum

  • In November 2014, after President Barack Obama announced that millions of undocumented immigrants would not be not deported, Santorum said, “He’s doing this as a slap in the face of every working American, and that is what we should be talking about… You know, who gets hurt most by what the president just did? Hispanics in America. You’re adding 5 million mostly unskilled workers into a labor pool right now, where wages are declining and income in America is declining.”
  • In June 2013, Santorum criticized Marco Rubio, the Gang of Eight and their immigration reform bill. He said, “Look, I think that the issue of immigration and respecting the rule of law in this country is a very, very important thing for Republican voters across the country and the idea that there are Republicans in Washington, D.C., who are going to say ‘well, the rule of law isn’t that important. The idea that people coming into this country illegally and we’re basically going to put them and treat them the same as people who are going to come here legally,’ it’s just not going to go over well on the Republican primary. I certainly respect senators from states with different opinions on that but I think there’s going to certainly be consequences for folks who don’t understand the importance of or have respect for the rule of law that Republicans have.”
  • Santorum voted against S.2611 – the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.
  • Santorum voted for H.R.6061 – the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which directed “the Secretary of Homeland Security, within 18 months of enactment of this Act, to take appropriate actions to achieve operational control over U.S. international land and maritime borders.” It became law on October 26, 2006.

Donald Trump

  • During his presidential bid announcement speech on June 16, 2015, Donald Trump stated immigrants from Mexico are “people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Trump added, “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”
  • Trump said providing a path to citizenship would be politically disadvantageous for Republicans at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference. He explained, “You can be out front, you can be the spearhead, you can do whatever you want to do, but every one of those 11 million people will be voting Democratic. It’s just the way it works and you have to be very, very careful because you could say that to a certain extent, the odds aren’t looking so great right now for Republicans, that you’re on a suicide mission. You’re just not going to get those votes.”
  • In 2011, Trump rejected the idea that children born in the United States to a mother residing there without legal permission should gain American citizenship under the Constitution. Trump said, “The clear purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, was to guarantee full citizenship rights to now emancipated former slaves. It was not intended to guarantee untrammeled immigration to the United States.”
  • In 2000, Trump noted in his book, The America We Deserve, that legal immigration should be made more challenging. Trump wrote, “The majority of legal immigrants can often make significant contributions to our society because they have special skills and because they add to our nation’s cultural diversity. They come with the best of intentions. But legal immigrants do not and should not enter easily. It’s a long, costly, draining, and often frustrating experience-by design. I say to legal immigrants: Welcome and good luck.”


Jeb Bush

  • During an interview in April 2014, Jeb Bush commented on immigrants who entered the United States illegally. He said, “Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love, it’s an act of commitment to your family.”
  • In March 2013, Bush said, “There has to be some difference between people who come here legally and illegally. It’s just a matter of common sense and a matter of the rule of law. If we’re not going to apply the law fairly and consistently, then we’re going to have another wave of illegal immigrants coming into the country.”

Chris Christie

  • In July 2015, Chris Christie said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” “There should be no special way for anybody to be able to get citizenship any different than any other foreigners.” He added a critique of his 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton, saying, “I think, you know, Secretary Clinton talks about path to citizenship for people who are here illegally – she’s just pandering.”
  • Christie had previously supported a pathway to citizenship in 2010, but explained he now believed people do not come to the United States to vote, they come to work.And quite frankly, a lot of those folks are been exploited by these employers who are paying them significantly lower wages in order to make a greater profit. Those people need to be penalized for that, and that will be the way to stop the flow from wherever they’re coming from, south of the border or elsewhere, into this country illegally,” Christie said.
  • In 2014, Christie used his line item veto authority to reject tuition aid grants for undocumented immigrant students who attended state colleges and universities.
  • In 2013, Christie signed legislation that allowed undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state colleges, universities and community colleges. Eligible candidates must have attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years and graduated from that high school. Christie conditionally vetoed a version of the bill that also would have granted in-state financial aid to undocumented immigrant students.
  • In 2010, Christie expressed support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He stated, “The president and the Congress have to step up to the plate, they have to secure our borders and they have to put forward a commonsense path to citizenship for people.”

Lindsey Graham

  • Lindsey Graham, who is a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, co-sponsored the comprehensive immigration reform bill, S.744 – the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which passed the Senate on June 27, 2013.
  • “Senator Graham’s Speech on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill,” June 27, 2013.
  • Graham voted against S.Amdt.1197 to S.744, which would have required the completion of 350 miles of fence described in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 “before registered provisional immigrant status” could be granted. It also required that 700 miles of fence be completed before the status of registered provisional immigrants could be changed to permanent resident status. It was rejected on June 17, 2013.
  • Graham and the Gang of Eight support a path to citizenship. According to the Washington Post, “The senators envision a temporary legal status and then the opportunity to obtain a green card, upon payment of back taxes, learn English, and a background check ‘among other requirements.'”
  • During a 2013 interview with Meet the Press, Graham said, “We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is to pass comprehensive immigration reform. If you don’t do that, it really doesn’t matter who we run, (in 2016) in my view.”

Mike Huckabee

  • In July 2015, Mike Huckabee released a statement saying he would use “all powers of the presidency to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities.” Huckabee described sanctuary cities as symptomatic “of President Obama’s broader policy decision to ignore existing laws and issue radical unconstitutional executive orders that provide amnesty to the most dangerous illegal aliens.”
  • In a 2013 interview, Huckabee suggested he would support Senators Bob Corker (R) and John Hoeven’s border security plan to spend $30 billion to build a 700-mile fence and double the number of federal border agents.
  • In his 2007 book, From Hope to Higher Ground, Mike Huckabee wrote, “It would be sheer folly to attempt to suddenly impose strict enforcement of existing laws, round up 12 million people, march them across the border, and expect them to stay. What does make sense is a revision of our laws, one giving those here illegally a process through which they pay a reasonable fine in admission of their guilt for the past infraction of violating our border laws and agree to adhere to a pathway toward legal status and citizenship. In exchange, our government gains the capacity to know who is here, why they are here, where they are, and whether they carry a communicable disease. But much of the debate has become mired more in definitions than in a real solution.”
  • In December 2007, during an interview on FOX News Sunday, Huckabee was questioned about why he changed his views on allowing a pathway to citizenship. Huckabee responded, “I don’t think there’s an inconsistency. When I said a pathway, I didn’t say what the pathway was. I now believe that the only thing the American people are going to accept–and, frankly, the only thing that really makes sense–is a pathway that sends people back to the starting point. But this idea of the waiting years — no, I don’t agree with that. In fact, look, if we can get a credit card application done within hours, if we can get passports done within days, if we can transact business over the Internet any place in the world within seconds, do a background check instantaneously — it’s our government that has failed and is dysfunctional. It shouldn’t take years to get a work permit to come here and pick lettuce. So part of the plan that I have is that we seal the borders. You don’t have amnesty and sanctuary cities. You do have a pathway that gets you back home. But that pathway to get back here legally doesn’t take years.”
  • In 2007, Huckabee released a comprehensive nine-point immigration enforcement and border security plan that included building a fence, increasing border security, preventing amnesty, enforcing the law on employers, establishing an economic border, empowering local authorities, ensuring document security, discouraging dual citizenship and modernizing the process of legal immigration.
  • According to a 2008 profile of Huckabee by the Council on Foreign Relations, he “has advocated prenatal care for pregnant immigrants and has proposed a scholarship program for illegal immigrants who graduate from Arkansas high schools. He also criticized a 2005 federal immigration raid in Arkansas. Huckabee has expressed support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants under some conditions.”

Bobby Jindal

  • In response to comments from fellow Republican candidate Donald Trump on immigration, including referring to some Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” Bobby Jindal addressed the issue of immigration. “I see people as individuals, not members of ethnic or economic groups. But what I believe is that we do need to secure the border and not as part of a comprehensive bill, but we need to secure the border,” Jindal told reporters.
  • In 2013, Jindal opposed the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration bill, S.744 – the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.
  • On July 9, 2013, Jindal presented his immigration reform plan in an op-ed in the National Review. He proposed securing the border, giving those living in the U.S. illegally an opportunity to gain legal status, deporting those engaged in criminal activity and increasing legal immigration. He also added, “As for a pathway to citizenship: For folks who came here illegally but are willing to gain proficiency in English, pay a fine, and demonstrate a willingness to assimilate, we should require them to work here and pay taxes for a substantial period of time after obtaining legal status before they have the opportunity to begin the process of applying for U.S. citizenship.”

George Pataki

  • In May 2015, George Pataki said he supported a “pathway to citizenship at the back of the line” excepting members of the military. Pataki expressed skepticism of candidates who suggest mass deportations as an immigration solution.
  • Pataki supported legislation in 2002 to allow immigrants living in the United States without legal permission and enrolled in the New York public university system to pay in-state tuition.

Rand Paul

  • Following the Chattanooga shooting at two Marine recruitment centers in July 2015, Rand Paul stated there should be heightened security for immigrants coming from “countries that have hotbeds of jihadism and hotbeds of this Islamism.”
  • On his presidential campaign website, Paul described his immigration platform. Paul wrote, “I do not support amnesty, but rather I support a legal immigration process. I recognize that our country has been enriched by those who seek the American Dream and have a desire for a better life. However, millions of illegal immigrants are crossing our border without our knowledge, and this threatens our national security. As President, I would secure our border immediately. Before issuing any visas or starting the legal immigration process, we must first ensure that our border is secure.
  • When asked in January 2015 if he would nullify President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration. Paul responded, “The 11 million, I think, are never going home, don’t need to be sent home, and I would incorporate them into our society by giving them work visas and making them taxpayers.”
  • Paul speaks at U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on immigration in March 2013. Paul introduced S 3015 – Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act of 2014 in response to President Obama’s executive order to delay deportation proceedings for certain immigrants residing in America without legal permission.
  • In June 2013, Paul said, “he would support a comprehensive immigration bill if senators accept his amendment to increase Congressional oversight over border security,” according to the Washington Post.
  • As a member of the 112th Congress, Paul cosponsored S J Res 2 in January 2011 to amend constitutional requirements for citizenship. Paul also cosponsored S 723 – Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011, which would have required citizenship by birth be granted only to those with at lesast one parent who is American, a lawful permanent resident, or an active service member.
  • Paul wrote a column for The Washington Times in February 2013 discussing his stance on immigration. Paul wrote, “The gang of eight wants back taxes and fines. Most of these undocumented immigrants are poor and may not be able to ever pay ten years of back payroll taxes. I would be willing to forego the fines and back taxes in exchange for a longer and significant time period before these folks are eligible to enter into the green card line.”
  • In June 2010, Paul suggested he did not support citizenship by birth if the child’s parents were here without legal permission. According to The Hill, Paul said “he would support amending the Constitution to deny automatic citizenship to children born in the United States.” Paul explained that “the 14th amendment actually says that you will be a citizen as long as you are under the jurisdiction of the United States. Many argue that these children that are born to illegal aliens are really still under the jurisdiction of the Mexican government. I think we need to fight that out in the courts. If we lose, then I think we should amend the Constitution because I don’t think the 14th amendment was meant to apply to illegal aliens. It was meant to apply to the children of slaves.”

Rick Perry

  • In December 2014, Rick Perry issued an executive order requiring state agencies and companies that contract with them to use a federal electronic employee verification system, E-Verify, to avoid hiring someone living or working in this country without legal permission. Previously, Perry had downplayed the usefulness of E-Verify, saying it wouldn’t “make a hill’s beans of difference” during a gubernatorial debate in 2010. In 2014, Perry explained, “The E-Verify system has been improved, it’s been streamlined and it currently is the most accurate and efficient way to check a person’s legal work in the United States.”
  • In 2014, Perry supported “legislation that would prohibit municipalities and other local governments from adopting policies that forbid local peace officers from enforcing federal immigration laws. That includes asking the immigration status of someone detained or arrested by a police officer. The legislation would cut off state funding for governments adopting such policies.”
  • Speaking before the Texas Border Coalition in 2006, Perry stated he preferred targeted border solutions to a massive physical wall along the border. According to Perry, “Strategic fencing in certain urban areas to direct the flow of traffic does make sense, but building a wall on the entire border is a preposterous idea. The only thing a wall would possibly accomplish is to help the ladder business.”
  • In a December 2006 op-ed, Perry proposed allowing immigrants without legal permission to live in the United States to instead stay in the country under a “guest worker” program. Perry explained, “I would rather know who is crossing our border legally to work instead of not knowing who is crossing our border illegally to work. A guest worker program that provides foreign workers with an ID removes the incentive for millions of people to illegally enter our country. It also adds those workers to our tax base, generates revenue for needed social services and it can be done without providing citizenship. Along with millions of Americans, I think it is wrong to reward those who broke our laws with citizenship ahead of those who have followed the law and are waiting to enter this country legally. And like millions of Americans I do not support amnesty. With a more secure border and a reasonable guest worker program we can allow guest workers to help build our economy without offering citizenship. Many don’t even want to become citizens – they just want to provide for their families back home.”
  • In 2001, Perry signed a law that offered in-state college tuition to immigrants living in Texas without legal permission who attended Texas public schools. Ten years later, Perry defended his support of the law at a debate in Florida, saying, “In 2001, members of the legislature, they debated it, they talked about it…and the option they chose was in the best economic interest of the state of Texas, in that young people who are here, by no fault of their own…to give these young people the opportunity to be givers rather than takers, to be a constructive part of this society, and that’s what did.”

Marco Rubio

  • Marco Rubio, who is a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, co-sponsored the comprehensive immigration reform bill, S.744 – the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which passed the Senate on June 27, 2013.
  • In November 2011, Rubio and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) proposed the AGREE Act, which, among other things, proposed removing “per-country limits on employment-based visas in an attempt to allow the brightest foreign students to remain in the country,” according to the Palm Beach Post.
  • During the 2010 campaign, Rubio strongly supported securing the borders and opposed any form of amnesty. He said illegal immigrants would need to be deported and that any path to citizenship was “code for amnesty.”

Scott Walker

  • In a May 2015 interview with Breitbart, Scott Walker said border security was “a matter of national security.” Walker criticized the lax response to border crossings, saying, “This is truly a matter national sovereignty, in that if we were having people penetrate our water-based ports throughout the Gulf of Mexico or either coast, we’d be taking swift action initially with the Coast Guard and eventually probably with the Navy. Yet, we have international criminal organizations seeking to penetrate our land-based borders to the south—the push for drugs, for firearms and increasingly for people from a trafficking standpoint—it’s just horrific we’re not taking more action to truly secure that border.”
  • In July 2013, Walker said, “If people want to come here and work hard and benefit, I don’t care whether they come from Mexico or Ireland or Germany or Canada or South Africa or anywhere else. I want them here.” After expressing support for a pathway to citizenship, Walker commented on Congress’ role in immigration reform, saying, “Not only do they need to fix things for people already here, or find some way to do it, there’s got to be a larger way to fix the system in the first place. Because if it wasn’t so cumbersome, if there wasn’t such a long wait, if it wasn’t so difficult to get in, we wouldn’t have the other problems that we have.”
  • During his 2010 campaign, Walker said, “As governor, I will sign similar legislation to the Arizona law on immigration to ensure the taxpayers of Wisconsin are not paying for benefits like BadgerCare and in-state college tuition for people who are here illegally.”


Photo by Lars Plougmann

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