Politics

Here's Exactly Where the 2016 Presidential Hopefuls Stand on Immigration

Immigration will be one of the biggest and most divisive issues in the 2016 presidential election. With President Obama's announcement that he will seek amnesty rulings for the estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the United States, lines were drawn in the sand — but not all of them toed their respective party line. So let's look at where the presumptive 2016 candidates stand on this hot-button issue... 

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush

Former Governor Bush has previously stated in interviews that he is for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the states. His argues for a more compassionate view on immigration than most in his party, believing the act of immigrating to the United States — illegally or otherwise — is an "act of love" as he stated in an April 2014 interview. Comprehensive reform is the name of the game for this Republican. "I honestly think that is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families." 

But that's not to say he's going to sit here and support President Obama. Nope: just this past Tuesday, Bush posted a missive directed at our commander in chief regarding his immigration policy:

 

Chris Christie

Chris Christie

Christie has been in-favor of "fixing a broken system" since 2013. He also believes that a pathway to citizenship and in-state tuition rates should be offered to people who have entered the country illegally. "What I favor is fixing a broken system," he stated during a November 2013 interview on Fox News Sunday. "The fact is that everybody knows the system is broken. And what Congress needs to do is get to work, working with each other and the president to fix a broken system that's not serving our economy well, not serving our country well." 

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

Naturally, the Governor of Texas has a lot at stake when it comes to immigration — most of it lying on the security of his state's border with Mexico. "We're not securing the border as the Constitution calls for us to," the presidential hopeful stated during an interview with Fox News in August 2014. Perry comes down hard on immigrants and illegal immigration itself, calling for a militarized border ("boots on the ground"), which — he claims — will help to end the crisis in Central America. "Very quickly, that message will be sent to those Central American countries that you cannot send your children up here; you cannot catch a train or a bus or be coyoted up here," he stated on Face the Nation in July 2014.

Do not expect Perry to come down in favor of more rights for illegal immigrants anytime soon, either. "We're seeing countries start to come in and infiltrate," he stated during the last presidential primary in 2011. "We know that Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico, as well as Iran, with their ploy to come into the US. The idea that we need to have border security with the US and Mexico is paramount to the entire western hemisphere. So putting that secure border in place with strategic fencing, with the boots on the ground, with the aviation assets, and then working with Mexico in particular, all of those together can make that country substantially more secure and our borders secure."

Scott Walker

Scott Walker

To put it simply: Gov. Walker is a bit of a flip-flopper, and has begun to tow the party line in preparation for a potential run. For the past few years, Walker's stance on immigration was widely viewed as a pathway to citizenship situation — thanks to an interview with The Wausau Daily Herald. "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," he said. "I want them here." He even went so far as to denounce increased border security, stating in that same interview, "You hear some people talk about border security and a wall and all that. To me, I don't know that you need any of that if you had a better, saner way to let people into the country in the first place."

However in recent days, Walker has become critical of this quote and its accuracy, and has now begun to stump on behalf of the "increased border security" line. Speaking with Fox News' Bret Baier: "I have said I believe we need a legal immigration system. I have said repeatedly I oppose amnesty. I think we're a nation of immigrants, but we're also a nation of laws. We should have a legal way for people to come into this country either for work or for citizenship, just like we have for generations. Part of that deal is we need to make sure we have a border that's secure, not just for immigration reasons, but as I mentioned, for national security." He repeated this new message in an interview with ABC News on February 1st, stating "We for sure need to secure the border. I think we need to enforce the legal system. I'm not for amnesty, I'm not an advocate of the plans that have been pushed here in Washington... we need to find a way for people to have a legitimate legal immigration system in this country, and that doesn't mean amnesty." So, in the very least, the man has changed his mind. 

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

If you thought Senator Cruz would be supportive of illegal immigrants given that he is a first generation American, think again. "In my opinion, if we allow those who are here illegally to be put on a path to citizenship, that is incredibly unfair to those who follow the rules," Cruz has said, according to NPR. He does not believe in a path to citizenship or amnesty for those who are already here. He wants tighter security at the border (including a wall) and triple the amount of border security patrolmen. He is incredibly thrilled at the recent Texas ruling against Obama's immigration policy.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul

Paul's position is explained fairly clearly on his website, where he has stated that "I do not support amnesty, I support legal immigration and recognize that the country has been enriched by those who seek the freedom to make a life for themselves. However, millions of illegal immigrants are crossing our border without our knowledge and causing a clear threat to our national security. I want to work in the Senate to secure our border immediately. In addition, I support the creation of a border fence and increased border patrol capabilities." He also wants the construction of bases to further secure our nation's borders. 

"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," he also recently stated to Bloomberg.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

As is probably not all that surprising, this Florida senator has a lot of thoughts on immigration — and they don't all tow the Republican party line. In his book American Dreams, Rubio wrote "On the one hand, calls to grant amnesty to twelve million people are unrealistic and quite frankly irresponsible. On the other hand, not a single opponent of the Senate bill I helped author proposed that we try to round up and deport twelve million human beings."

Rubio is a staunch supporter of the DREAM Act as a conceptual idea. He wants to have immigration legalization come on a merit-based system, and allow students in good academic standing to be able to attain legal status. But he also thinks that massive, centralized overhaul is a mistake. Instead, he prefers the idea of piecemeal bills, according to Politico. That said, increased border security is still a big issue for him — and he wants a lot more of it.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Clinton, like the president, is for reforming the United States' immigration system, as she tweeted back in November. 

"For our democracies to meet the tests ahead, all of our people, not just those of us here, but all of our people, have to believe they too have a stake in our prosperity and our future, no matter where they are from, what they look like, who they worship or who they love," Clinton said in January. In 2008 during the democratic debates Clinton also stated "there must be a path to legalization" for illegal immigrants — unless they've committed a crime, of course. Clinton also believes that helping the governments of neighboring nations create better ecosystems for job growth will also aid in decreasing our illegal immigration issue.

Clinton is also of the belief, though, that children should be returned home — on a case by case basis — if it is deemed safe enough. "They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns whether all of them should be sent back. But I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families." She also told moderator of a 2014 CNN town hall that the United States must "send a clear message: just because your child gets across the border doesn’t mean your child gets to stay."

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

In what is likely a surprise to no one, Vice President Biden stands behind Obama's line of thinking when it comes to immigration, supporting his recent plan. On Tuesday, the VPOTUS stated to press that "National security flows from a sense of community," before adding that the lesson Americans would be most inclined to learn is that of "inclusion counts."

“I'm proud of the American record on culture and economic integration of not only our Muslim communities but African communities, Asian communities, Hispanic communities,” Biden said. “And the wave still continues. It’s not going to stop. Nor should we want it to stop. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the things I think we can be most proud of.”

This message of inclusion echoes earlier statements from Biden during a 2014 college graduation, where he stated that "we have to act to bring 11 million people out of the shadows and put them on a path to citizenship. These people are already Americans."

Martin O'Malley

Martin O'Malley

The Maryland governor has a history and track record of supporting fair and compassionate immigration reform, his state having been the first to pass the DREAM Act. That said, O'Malley has been critical of the White House policy to send children back after making it across the border. "We are not a country that should turn children away and send them back to certain death," he told reporters at a National Governors Association meeting.

He is a proponent of "common sense immigration legislation" saying that it "is the right thing to do for our national security, the well-being of our workforce, and also for job creation and the U.S. economy" in a press release from 2013.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

For Warren, "common sense, comprehensive immigration reform" is the only answer. While a supporter of Obama's immigration reform plan, Warren has also stated that "any reform should have three components: It must uphold existing laws, protecting our borders and enforcing our laws against recruiting, hiring, and exploiting undocumented workers. It needs to be fair to all taxpayers and to legal immigrants. There should be a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but one that would require them to pay taxes and go to the back of the line. It needs to help us retain talent trained at our world-class institutions and support job creation. That kind of immigration reform would be true to the rule of law, to our tradition as a nation of immigrants, and to our need to invest in the future."

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

An Independent from Vermont, Sanders has previously voted against a border fence (Secure Fence Act; Bill H R 6061/vote number 2006-446: September 14th, 2006) and for a pathway to legalization. In a 2013 interview with The Washington Post, Sanders is quoted:

"I'm a strong supporter of immigration reform, and of the need to provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. I very strongly support the DREAM Act, and will continue to strongly support it. I very strongly believe, as someone who knows what's going on in the dairy industry in Vermont, that there's no question we need to create a status for immigrant workers in agriculture, and I think the committee is making good progress there. My concerns are in regards to where we stand in terms of guest workers programs, made worse by amendments offered by Senator Hatch. What I do not support is, under the guise of immigrant reform, a process pushed by large corporations which results in more unemployment and lower wages for American workers." So, basically: Sanders wants reasonable policies that still protect American citizens and their jobs from being undercut by cheap/exploitative labor.

Andrew Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo

Being a politician in New York — home to New York City and our nation's historical entry point, Ellis Island — Cuomo is staunchly in favor of Obama's immigration policies, and immigrant rights in general. He has previously — and frequently — discussed the enrichment that new Americans-to-be can offer our country, a nation of immigrants itself. Governor Cuomo also created an Office for New Americans, assisting residents with their pathway to legality and offering a support system for those that have newly (and legally) arrived. He is against the exploitative practices in the country that have maligned so many undocumented workers and has made the DREAM Act a priority in 2015.