Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Immigration? | SCFG Inc

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Immigration?

Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers highlights what is already a lightning rod issue in a presidential campaign where two key constituencies are the Hispanic vote, and Republican conservatives adamantly opposed to what they refer as “amnesty.”

Bloomberg has researched the positions of declared and likely candidates for the White House. All of the Democrats favor a path to citizenship for workers now living here illegally; all of the Republicans  inveigh against President Obama’s executive actions to protect the so-called “Dreamers”—undocumented residents who were brought here illegally as children by their parents—from deportation, as well as Dreamers’ families.

In between those two poles there are a number of variations on similar themes. On the key question of whether an estimated 11 million people now in the United States illegally deserve a path to legalization, many candidates on the Republican side are so far unable or unwilling to give a definitive answer. Even some who say yes would allow a path to citizenship only after borders are secured, a metric that is hard to measure. Some have been on both sides of the issue at various times in the debate.

Here’s a look at where the rest of the prospective field stands:

Republicans

Jeb Bush

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks on April 10, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks on April 10, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Undeclared

Pathway to citizenship: Yes

The details: Bush’s long-time support for a path to citizenship has alienated many conservatives in his party, and it could be a major obstacle in his likely quest for the Republican nomination, with two-thirds of likely Iowa caucus-goers calling his position a deal-breaker. While the former Florida governor told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February that “first and foremost, we need to enforce the borders,” he has repeatedly called for a path to citizenship for the 11 million estimated undocumented immigrants in the country. In Iowa in March, Bush also answered a question, asked in Spanish, about the so-called “Dreamers.” He responded, also in Spanish, that they should be able to become citizens. Yet, Bush said in April that he would roll back President Obama’s executive orders on the issue, which have largely been criticized by conservatives.

Marco Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio speaks on Capitol Hill on April 14, 2015.
Senator Marco Rubio speaks on Capitol Hill on April 14, 2015.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Declared

Pathway to citizenship: Unclear

The details: In 2013, Rubio, whose parents immigrated from Cuba to his home state of Florida, became one of four Republicans in the so-called “Gang of Eight” senators pushing an immigration bill that included a path to citizenship for people who came to the U.S. illegally. Before it even passed the Senate, though, Rubio started to distance himself from the effort. He pushed a border security amendment behind the scenes and later said he would no longer have voted for the bill. (The legislation died in the House.) He has since kept relatively quiet, saying mostly that the U.S. must shore up its border security before it can consider any other changes in immigration law.

Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Feb. 23, 2011.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Feb. 23, 2011.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Undeclared

Pathway to citizenship: Not at this time

The details: The Republican governor of Wisconsin has admitted to shifting his positions on immigration. In 2002, he supported a path to citizenship, but by 2015, he termed it “amnesty” and said he opposed it, according to the Associated Press. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that he had told a private gathering of New Hampshire Republicans earlier in the month that he still supported a pathway to citizenship. A spokeswoman called the story “false.” Then, in April, he went beyond condemning illegal immigration, declaring that “the next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages.” In December 2014, he had also joined a lawsuit that sought to stop the Obama administration from carrying out executive actions easing deportations.

Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fields questions on March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fields questions on March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Undeclared

Pathway to citizenship: Unclear

The details: Although he signed a bill in 2014 providing in-state tuition rates to children of undocumented workers in his state,  the New Jersey governor in March joined the lawsuit against President Obama’s executive actions providing national protection against deportation to the so-called Dreamers, describing Obama’s moves as an overreach. While he called for a “commonsense path to citizenship” in 2010, Christie has since been criticized for not taking a clear stand on the question of legalization for undocumented workers.  Even so, he has parted definitively from the most conservative wing of his party on the immigration issue. “There are not enough law enforcement officers at the local, county, state and federal level to be able to forcibly deport people who are here in an undocumented status,” Christie told the Northern Virginia Technology Council last week, adding: “I’m not a guy who is in favor of building a fence or wall along the length of America’s southern border.”  He argued that the best way to stem future undocumented workers is by enforcing laws on the books against employing them, not only “against those who sneak their way in, but against the business community who exploits that.”

Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul speaks on Dec. 6, 2013, in Detroit, Mich.
Senator Rand Paul speaks on Dec. 6, 2013, in Detroit, Mich.
Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Declared

Pathway to citizenship: Supports legal status

The details: The Republican senator from Kentucky has criticized Obama’s immigration actions and said Congress should shore up border security before doing doing anything else, but he has supported a path to legalization. “The 11 million, I think, are never going home, don’t need to be sent home,” he said in Pennsylvania in January. “I would incorporate them into our society by giving them work visas and making them taxpayers.”

Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York on March 24, 2015.
Senator Ted Cruz listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York on March 24, 2015.
Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Candidacy status: Declared

Pathway to citizenship: No

The details: The Republican senator from Texas is the son of a Cuban immigrant, but he has struggled to appeal to Hispanics, at least in part because of his opposition to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. In an April appearance before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he called it “profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants.”  He vehemently opposes President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and he has introduced legislation to stop the expansion of an executive program shielding undocumented immigrant children from deportation.

Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks on April 25, 2015, in Waukee, Iowa.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks on April 25, 2015, in Waukee, Iowa.
Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Declared

Pathway to citizenship: Unclear

The details: The former Arkansas governor has also shifted over the years. He called a path to citizenship “the rational approach” in the Washington Post in 2006 and had supported in-state tuition for young people brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents. His2007 immigration plan, however, called for no path and would require undocumented immigrants to register with U.S. authorities and then leave the country within 120 days, according to Fox News. By 2015, he was again touting citizenship for Dreamers, even as he criticized Obama’s executive actions. “I don’t believe that it is a just thing to punish someone who had nothing to do with the breaking of the law,” Huckabee said in Virginia in January, according to the Washington Examiner, and insisted his position was “something on which I will not recant.”

Ben Carson

Ben Carson appears on April 8, 2015, in New York City.
Ben Carson appears on April 8, 2015, in New York City.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Declared

Pathway to citizenship: Unclear

The details: To deal with undocumented immigrants, the U.S. has “to get rid of all the things that are drawing them in here, including employment,” the former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon told the Iowa Freedom Summit in January. “You should get a criminal activity on your record” if you hire undocumented immigrants, he said at the time, and the next president “should seal that border within a year.” In his 2011 book, American The Beautiful, Carson suggested the U.S. had “taken the moral low road” in using immigrant labor without offering a path to citizenship, according to theNational Journal, but he later said it was amnesty that was “incredibly unfair” to those who came to the country legally and said securing the border should come first.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina speaks in Waukee, Iowa, on April 25, 2015.
Carly Fiorina speaks in Waukee, Iowa, on April 25, 2015.
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Candidacy status: Declared

Pathway to citizenship: No

The details: The former Hewlett-Packard CEO does not support a pathway to citizenship “for those who came here illegally and who have stayed here illegally,” according to a Monday interview with Yahoo that she gave shortly after announcing her run. “I think they may earn legal status over time, but not citizenship,” said Fiorina. She also addressed Dream Act legislation, which would grant residency to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children with their parents. “In California, I supported the Dream Act because I think that you cannot punish children who came here through no will of there own as young children, but I also think we have the cart backwards, when we pass something called the Dream Act before we’ve even secured the border.”

Rick Perry

Former Governor Rick Perry appears on Nov. 27, 2014, in College Station, Texas.
Former Governor Rick Perry appears on Nov. 27, 2014, in College Station, Texas.
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Undeclared

Pathway to citizenship: Yes, if…

The details: In 2011, Perry told the Daily Beast “sure” when asked if he could envision a path to citizenship for undocumented workers if border security were increased. In an interview earlier this year with the Wall Street Journal, Perry avoided commenting on legalization, venturing only that any Republican candidate “better be talking about securing the border and having a plan to secure the border before they ever have a conversation about what’s next.” As the Republican governor of Texas, Perry flexed muscles over immigration, repeatedly sending National Guard troops to the U.S.–Mexico border, including in 2014 to stem a tide of unaccompanied minors from Central America. Though he hs criticized Obama’s executive actions on immigration, Perry, whose 14-plus years as governor ended in January, did extend in-state tuition to Texas Dreamers. He even told former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney during a 2012 debate that he didn’t “have a heart” after Romney criticized the program.

Bobby Jindal

Governor Bobby Jindal speaks in National Harbor, Md., on March 15, 2013.
Governor Bobby Jindal speaks in National Harbor, Md., on March 15, 2013.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Undeclared

Pathway to citizenship: Yes, if…

The details: “As the son of immigrants to this country, and as a student of American history, I’m an unapologetic advocate for immigration,” the Louisiana governor, whose parents immigrated from India, wrote in theNational Review in 2013. Yet Jindal slammed the Gang of Eight bill and recommended providing expanded legal immigration and a path to citizenship for undocumented residents only after the border is secured.

Lindsey Graham

Senator Lindsey Graham fields questions on March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Senator Lindsey Graham fields questions on March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Undeclared

Pathway to citizenship: Yes

The details: Like Rubio, Senator Lindsey Graham joined the Gang of Eight that pushed an immigration bill that included a pathway to citizenship. Unlike Rubio, the South Carolina Republican still backs it. He says the “biggest challenge” facing America is the impending retirement of tens of millions of baby boomers, and a shortage of workers to replace them. Easing immigration laws can fix that, he says. “Strom Thurmond had four kids after he was 67,” Graham said at the Iowa Ag Summit in March. “If you’re not willing to do that, then we need immigration.”

John Kasich

Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 1, 2010.
Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 1, 2010.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Undeclared

Pathway to citizenship: Maybe

The details: “We don’t have enough school buses to load all these people on, drive to the border, open the door, and shout, ‘Get out!'” the second-term Ohio governor, who is exploring a run, said in April at the New America 2015 Conference in Washington. “I don’t like the idea of citizenship… but I said I wouldn’t take it off the table.” Earlier in his career, however, Kasich supported an amendment to the Constitution that would deny birthright citizenship to babies born in the U.S. to undocumented mothers.

Democrats

Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks on Capitol Hill on Feb. 3, 2015.
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks on Capitol Hill on Feb. 3, 2015.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Declared

Pathway to citizenship: Yes

“I’m a strong supporter of immigration reform and of the need to provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants,” Sanders said in November 2014, according to a statement from his office. Sanders also said that he supported President Obama’s action to ease deportations, and he voted for the Senate’s immigration reform bill in 2013. His office said at the time that he supported the bill and the Dream Act but that he “strongly” opposed guest worker programs, which he said could lower Americans’ wages.

Martin O’Malley

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley speaks on March 6, 2015, in Concord, N.H.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley speaks on March 6, 2015, in Concord, N.H.
Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Candidacy status: Undeclared

Pathway to citizenship: Yes

The details: “We have delayed immigration reform for far too long,” the former Maryland governor, who is expected to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination in late-May, told the Des Moines Register in March. Reform meant a path to citizenship, he said. “When people live in the full light of an open society, paying their taxes abiding by the rules, that makes our country not only safer and more secure, because people are not relegated to living in the shadows, you’re not creating underground economies. It also is better for wages.”

—Michael C. Bender, Terrence Dopp, and Phil Mattingly contributed reporting.



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