Republican Presidential Candidates and their Stance on Immigration

There are currently 17 (yes, 17) people seriously campaigning to be the Republican nominee for president. There are also a handful of other individuals currently running for president, including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. One of the big issues right now–quiet possibly the biggest issue–is immigration. Below, the stances of the various Republicans:

  1. The obvious starting point here is Donald Trump, who somehow is leading the Republican polls. His stance is, to put it lightly, extreme. He wants to change the Constitution in order to make it so people who are born in the U.S. don’t automatically become U.S. citizens (although he’s gotten some very bad legal advice and apparently believes he can make this change without actually changing the Constitution), he wants to build a wall (not just a fence) between the U.S. and Mexico (and somehow get Mexico to pay for it) and he wants to deport every undocumented immigrant. As far as legal immigration, Trump also wants to put a stop to much of that.
  2. Ted Cruz also does fairly well among Republicans, and he’s looking more and more like Donald Trump’s sidekick (probably hoping to pick up Trump’s voters once Trump drops out of the race). His position pretty much matches Trump’s, except that Ted Cruz has historically wanted to increase legal immigration.
  3. Rick Santorum wants to decrease legal immigration.
  4. Scott Walker wants to reduce legal immigration and change the Constitution so that children who are born in the U.S. don’t automatically become U.S. citizens.
  5. Ben Carson wants to send drones out to the U.S./Mexican border to patrol; he also wants to seal off ALL borders of the U.S. (the cost of which would be extraordinarily high) and he wants to repeal the 14th Amendment of the Constitution so that children born in the U.S. aren’t necessarily U.S. citizens.
  6. Chris Christie previously supported a pathway to citizenship, but has since changed his tune and now wants to revoke President Obama’s deferred status plan (which doesn’t even go so far as to provide a pathway to citizenship).
  7. Rand Paul wants to “secure the border” before the U.S. does anything else to fix immigration. (A 100% secure border is impossible–there will always be ways through–but insistence on a secure border first means that he’ll never have to deal with reforming any other parts of U.S. immigration policy).
  8. Bobby Jindal wants to “secure the border” before he’ll even discuss his plans for immigration.
  9. Rick Perry wants to secure the border. He’s not talking about other immigration reform until after the border’s secure.
  10. John Kasich wants to secure the border; however, he also wants a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants who are already here.
  11. Marco Rubio, who was previously fairly moderate on immigration, has now joined the “secure the border now, and then we’ll deal with other immigration issues later” crowd.
  12. Mike Huckabee wants a more secure border and opposes allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. man running for president, is open to undocumented immigrants receiving legal status, but not open to them being able to gain citizenship.
  13. Jeb Bush wants a “pathway to legalization” and wants to continue the constitutionally-supported tradition of granting citizenship to children born in the U.S.
  14. Carly Fiorina wants a pathway to legalization and a secure border.
  15. Jim Gilmore does not support a pathway to citizenship, but he does support allowing undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the U.S.
  16. George Pataki, one of the least recognizable of the 17 Republican candidates, wants to allow undocumented immigrants without criminal records to gain legal residency by performing 200 hours of community service.
  17. Lindsey Graham wants Republicans and Democrats to work together to reform immigration. He also wants to ensure that families of undocumented immigrants are able to stay together.

In summary, we have three camps here. The first–Donald Trump and those who want to be Donald Trump (including Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, and, to a lesser extent, Chris Christie) are pretty extreme on their approach to immigration. Most of them want to change the Constitution so that children born to immigrants don’t become U.S. citizens, and in some cases they want to decrease legal immigration.

The second camp wants to “secure the border” and remains pretty quiet about any other immigration issues. This camp is afraid to take a stance one way or another on immigration reform. “Secure the border first and then we’ll deal with other reform” indicates the speaker doesn’t have much of a backbone on the issue, and is afraid to take a stance at this time. This camp includes Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Marco Rubio.

The third camp is more moderate. They would like undocumented immigrants to have a way to legally remain and work in the U.S. This includes Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, and Lindsey Graham.

If immigration issues are important to you, you should vote accordingly.

Coming up, I’ll discuss non-Republican candidates and their views on immigration.