Key Questions the GOP Candidates Should Be Asked Tonight

Tonight is the final Republican debate before the February 1 Iowa caucuses officially kickoff the presidential nomination process. Like the other GOP debates, this one features a main debate at 9 p.m. EST and an undercard debate at 7 p.m. EST. Four lower polling candidates will appear at the undercard debate: Carly Fiorina; Mike Huckabee; Rick Santorum; and Jim Gilmore. Seven candidates will appear on the main stage debate: Ted Cruz; Marco Rubio; Ben Carson; Chris Christie; Jeb Bush; John Kasich; and Rand Paul. Notably, Donald Trump—who leads the field in most polls—has decided he will not participate in tonight’s debate. Fox News is hosting the debate and it can also be streamed live here.

With immigration playing a growing role in the 2016 campaign and first votes being cast in four days, FAIR believes the candidates should be pressed on their immigration positions. Accordingly, FAIR offers the following five questions that should be asked of the candidates:

Question 1: The U.S. economy has been stagnant for most of Obama’s presidency yet we continue to issue 1 million new green cards a year. A recent Pew poll found that 67% of Republicans (and nearly half of all respondents) believe immigration should be reduced. Will you insist Congress send you a bill within the first 100 days of your administration that lowers the number of green cards the U.S. issues annually?

Question 2: The Iowa caucuses will be held on the seven month anniversary of Kate Steinle’s senseless death at the hands of an illegal alien who was protected by sanctuary city policies. The Obama administration has allowed sanctuary cities to defy federal immigration law without repercussions. As president, what will you do to bring justice to the Steinle family and other families that have experienced similar avoidable tragedies and hold sanctuary cities accountable?

Question 3: FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress that the U.S. is currently unable to properly vet Syrian refugees. Will you pledge to freeze admissions of Syrians and nationals from other ISIS-linked countries until sufficient national security screening measures are implemented?

Question 4: Unaccompanied alien minors and family units from Central America continue to surge across the border because they believe they can remain in the U.S. once they arrive. Part of the problem is a loophole in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act that prevents the government from promptly returning illegal aliens from Central America. Do you support amending the TVPRA so all UAMs, regardless of country of origin, are subject to the same process and can be promptly returned instead of allowed to disappear in the interior of the U.S.?

Question 5: With the labor force participation rate at historical lows, ensuring a legal workforce has never been more important. Will you make mandatory E-Verify a priority in your administration so scarce jobs only go to individuals who have a right to work here lawfully?

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar
    Barbara Griffith on

    You do know the reason Trump bailed on the Fox fist fights it was because he had a fund raiser for the veterans that he probably had already told them he would be sure to be there and he considered helping them raise money was more important than punching it out with Cruz. His rep. was on Lou Dobbs this afternoon when Dobb’s asked if Trump
    was hurt at all by his absence and she said no his ratings didn’t budge.

    • avatar

      CSPAN showed TRUMP speaking at the event for veterans while the Republican debate was being held. I am glad Trump stood up to the corrupt, corporate owned media that is constantly working against the best interests of this country. The corporate media has its own agenda it is constantly pushing and should not be hosting any of the debates. The debates should be on CSPAN hosted by parties that are not pushing a corrupt agenda.

  2. avatar

    An interesting question to all candidates would be “the government claims only 11 to 12 million people are in the country illegally”. What if it turns out to be twice that number like happened in 1986?

  3. avatar

    I think there is another question that should be put to the candidates, one that has been avoided by people in and out of Congress, including the media:

    “As president, what would you do about the federal government’s policy of allowing 7 million illegal aliens to keep their payroll jobs in construction, manufacturing, services and transportation while 15 million Americans are unable to find full-time work”?

  4. avatar
    Richard Shawkey on

    A key part of any program to deport the 12 million plus illegal immigrants is to deny them employment in the U.S. The so-called Comprehensive Immigration Bill (S-744) was extremely weak in this regard. Mandatory E-Verify for future employees does not cut it. S-744 also required the Social Security Administration to notify employers of social security number (SSN) anomalies (i.e., name vs number discrepancies). A SSN anomaly is clear evidence of illegal activity. Why then is not the Social Security Administration required to notify law enforcement? Probably because the Chamber of Commerce would vigorously oppose such a law. Not only should a social security anomaly be reported to law enforcement, but it should be sufficient evidence to allow a search warrant. Employers should be given two years to clear their books and then law-enforcement notification would begin. Furthermore the fine for hiring an illegal should be boosted to at least $6000, or better yet, $10,000. It costs an average of $6000 to identify, prosecute and deport an illegal. Let the offending employers pay the cost of deportation. Note that Rubio’s bill (S-744) only increased the fine to a paltry $3500.

  5. avatar

    The way the debates are structured is the way the Establishment control the information on the candidates. Questions that promote the”chosen candidates” make them good good and questions for the candidates to be eliminated are chosen to accomplish the goal. The five questions are excellent and should be given to EVERY candidate with a time limit response. Any question worthy of response should require a response from every candidate.

    Gotcha questions for selected candidates are the choice of the 1% – I saw on the news last night that Cruz got upset with this type of questioning and threatened to walk out. I give Cruz a + for that but with all his baggage I can no longer support him. His cozy relationship with failed and bailed mega banks (unsecured loans from CITI and Goldman Sacks – not reported on his candidate financial statement) – voting record, specifically missed votes – Canadian Citizenship – his financial supporters and his WIFES career with the United Nations – specifically being on the committee that wrote the UN plan for North and Central America with NO borders.

  6. avatar


    • avatar

      Are you serious? No he is beholding to his massive childish ego.
      Declaring bankruptcy and thereby screwing many suppliers from the morally entitled profits.
      It is not what the very rich Steal and carry off, but what they fall into and mess up.

  7. avatar

    Too bad the debates are hosted by and questions selected by corporate owned media channels that are owned by the same greedy special interests that also own and control most of our politicians. It doesn’t say much about the health of our democracy when the greedy special interests that own most of our politicians are also the same greedy special interests that are hosting the debates. But at least we have the internet, C-SPAN, radio etc. to find out what is really happening

  8. avatar

    Trump Is Smart

    Attending the debate CANNOT help him. Having the other 13 candidates fight it out will possibly hurt them though.

    When Trump wins the Republican Nomination, the Republican management plans on supporting Clinton alleges the Tea Party. I don’t agree with all Tea Party allegations….this one made my mouth drop open today and I’m an old fashion Democrat before the Dem/Reps became one open border foreign/corporate party. They may of hit the nail on the head.

    • avatar

      Or simply another details that is not good for the country……to take things personally and instead confront them like a real politician………after this he is the real mirror of Clinton………..they don’t have to answer or do what they do not want…….example on Clinton Benghazi…..for Trump…will be worse

      Were are cooked…..we have no representatives……Ron Paul should get back on line may libertarianism
      will save us…