Presidential Candidates Speak on Immigration Reform
The 2012 presidential election is a little more than a year away, but the presidential hopefuls are out in full force. Here’s what a few of the leading GOP candidates (plus President Barack Obama) are saying about immigration reform.
Rep. Michele Bachmann
In her own words: “Rather than repeating the mistakes of our past, I believe Congress must work to secure our nation’s borders and enforce the immigration laws already in place. Once this is achieved, improvements to the current system can be considered. Those who approach our immigration system legally and work through the established process should be welcomed. However, any proposal for reform must not reward those who choose to break our laws by entering the country illegally.”
At an August town hall meeting in South Carolina, Michele Bachmann was asked about her position on illegal immigration. She told the audience that she thinks it’s possible to legislate to stop the “anchor baby” issue of children born to illegal immigrant mothers.
Gov. Rick Perry
In his own words: “As I have said repeatedly, you can’t have homeland security without border security, and there is no sense in reforming immigration laws if we cannot enforce them. And I have said equally as often that immigration reform without border security is meaningless. Divisive language on the subject of border security and immigration reform is simply not constructive or useful in solving the problem. We cannot be a nation that is anti-immigrant because we are in fact a nation of immigrants …”
Perry has championed increased border security to combat growing violence in Texas, and touts his record on border security in Texas to curb crime and stop illegal immigration. At a recent GOP debate, Perry defended his policy of providing subsidized in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants in Texas.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney
In his own words: “Our country must do a better job of securing its borders and as president, I will. That means completing construction of a high-tech fence, and investing in adequate manpower and resources … .We must stop providing the incentives that promote illegal immigration. As governor, I vetoed legislation that would have provided in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants and I strengthened the authority our state troopers had to enforce existing immigration laws.”
In an August presidential debate, Romney said that America’s borders need to be secured and proposed that the government crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers. He has expressed support for giving green cards to highly educated workers.
President Barack Obama
In 2008, Obama supported immigration reform legislation, which would have increased funding and improved border security technology, improved enforcement of existing laws, and provided a legal path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants.
During his presidency, Obama has been criticized by immigration reform groups as not doing enough to push for legislation that he promised in 2008. The Obama administration has deported a record number of illegal immigrants this year and voted to authorize the construction of a 700-mile fence along the US-Mexican border. He supported the DREAM Act, which would offer young illegal immigrants the opportunity to become lawful permanent residence if they met certain conditions, but the act did not survive a Republican-dominated congress. Some groups say that Obama is losing his popularity among Latino voters due to his lack of concrete steps to reform the nation’s immigration system.