The next step in the race to the White House is February 9 with New Hampshire’s first-in-the nation primary. Although FAIR does not endorse candidates, we believe that the issue of immigration is of the upmost importance as Republicans and Democrats choose their nominees for the 2016 presidential election. To help you be informed before you vote on Tuesday, FAIR provides the following summary of each of the candidates’ immigration positions. For more information, please visit FAIR’s 2016 resource page.
Democratic Presidential Candidates
- Hillary Clinton: Clinton promises to go even “further” than President Obama in granting executive amnesty outside the law until Congress passes legislation providing “full and equal citizenship” to illegal aliens. Regarding enforcement, Clinton will only deport illegal aliens “who pose a violent threat to public safety.” By comparison, in 2003 as a U.S. Senator, Clinton described herself as “adamantly against illegal immigrants.”
- Bernie Sanders: Sanders vows to “take extensive executive action” to shield even more illegal aliens from deportation than President Obama did until Congress passes a “roadmap to citizenship.” Sanders’s immigration plan calls for “modernizing” border security while ending State and local cooperation for interior enforcement. Sanders voted for the Gang of Eight mass amnesty guest worker bill in 2013 but played a key role in stopping amnesty legislation in 2006 and 2007.
Republican Presidential Candidates
- Jeb Bush: Bush’s immigration plan calls for a path to “earned legal status” for illegal aliens and an expedited path to citizenship for so-called DREAMers, illegal aliens who claim to have been brought to the country unlawfully as minors. Bush considers fencing a “component of border security” but only “where appropriate” and supports a “strong E-Verify system.”
- Ben Carson: Carson’s immigration plan grants illegal aliens with a “pristine record” the “opportunity to become guest workers” and possibly citizens “later on down the road.” Additionally, Carson claims his administration can seal the border within the first year but he opposes deporting the entire illegal alien population currently residing unlawfully in the country.
- Chris Christie: Christie’s immigration plan has five enforcement principles: securing the border; mandatory E-Verify; implementing biometric entry-exit; deny funding to sanctuary cities; and blocking President Obama’s executive amnesty programs. Although Christie’s official plan does not address how he would handle the current illegal alien population, in 2010 Christie supported a “pathway to citizenship”-a position he now claims he opposes.
- Ted Cruz: Cruz opposes amnesty and wants to “stop illegal immigration.” His immigration plan calls for securing the border and strengthening and enforcing existing immigration laws. Although Cruz has previously supported increasing legal immigration, he now supports reforming the system to “prioritize the interests and well-being of Americans.”
- Carly Fiorina: Fiorina says the “first thing” her administration will do is “secure the border.” According to her plan, she will “invest in infrastructure” and encourage State and local cooperation for interior enforcement. Regarding legal immigration, Fiorina wants to “reform our broken visa system” and “fix” the visa overstay problem. The plan calls for E-Verify but it is unclear if she supports its use by all employers. Finally, she opposes citizenship for illegal aliens but has said “I think legal status is a possibility for sure” and also said “I’ve been very clear I don’t support deportation.”
- John Kasich: Kasich supports giving illegal aliens a “path to legalization” and said a top priority in his administration will be “expand[ing]guest workers.” Kasich calls deporting illegal aliens “a silly argument” but has expressed vague support for securing the border.
- Marco Rubio: Rubio led the 2013 Gang of Eight bill that granted mass amnesty, significantly increased legal immigration, and contained only promises of future enforcement. Rubio now opposes that 1,200 page bill but his immigration plan supports passing its provisions “in a sequential and piecemeal way.”
- Donald Trump: Trump’s immigration plan opposes amnesty and calls for eliminating the incentives that encourage illegal immigration. His plan centers on three “core principles” of immigration reform: control the border; enforce immigration laws; and prioritize American workers. However, Trump has previously said that after deporting illegal aliens he would allow the “really good people” to return.