With unemployment rates at an all time high, many Americans are uncertain about their economic futures. As a result, voters are looking to their elected officials to help get the economy back on track and to do something about the estimated 12-18 million illegal aliens currently living in the U.S.
At pre-caucus rallies in Iowa over the weekend, one of the themes that drew the most applause was the candidates’ statements on how they would handle the issue of illegal immigration. Here are the candidates’ stances on the issue:
Mitt Romney: During a campaign stop in Iowa on New Year’s Eve, the former governor stated that he would veto the so-called DREAM Act if he was president. He also attacked Texas governor Rick Perry for his support of illegal aliens. "For those who come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of law."
During his term as governor of Massachusetts, Romney allowed state troopers to be deputized to help enforce immigration laws. He also opposed attempts to allow illegal aliens to pay the lower in-state tuition rates at state universities.
Although he opposes the DREAM Act, Romney seems open to grant legal residency status to those who serve in the U.S. military. On Saturday, he stated, "I'm delighted with the idea that people who come to this country and wish to serve in the military can be given a path to become permanent residents of this country.”
Rick Perry: The Texas governor has not only allowed illegal aliens to pay the lower, in-state tuition rate at state colleges and universities, he also supported legislation that allows them to receive tax-payer supported state education grants.
In August, the Obama administration stated they would review and drop cases against over 300,000 individuals currently in deportation and removal proceedings. Furthermore, the administration set up a new policy severely limiting the prosecution and subsequent removal of individuals that would come into custody of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).During a campaign stop in New Hampshire in late November, the governor stated chided President Obama’s immigration policies. “I call this a horrific policy, but the Obama administration has a catch and release policy where non-violent illegal aliens are released into the general public today. My policy will be to detain and to deport every illegal alien that we apprehend. That is how we stop that issue.”
Perry recently received the endorsement of embattled Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
Ron Paul: The Texas Congressman opposes amnesty but does not support deporting the estimated 12-18 million illegal aliens currently residing in the U.S. In his book, Liberty Defined, he states, “Immigrants who can't be sent back due to the magnitude of the problem should not be given citizenship--no amnesty should be granted. Maybe a "green card" with an asterisk could be issued. This in-between status, keeping illegal immigrants in limbo, will be said that it will create a class of 2nd-class citizens. Yet it could be argued that it may well allow some immigrants who come here illegally a beneficial status without automatic citizenship--a much better option than deportation.”
Paul introduced a bill that would amend the 14th Amendment to the Constitution so that children born to non-citizens within the U.S. would not obtain automatic citizenship.
The Congressman sees the immigration issue as an economic issue. In a 2007 debate he stated, “It’s an economic issue more than anything. If our economy was in good health, I don’t think there’d be an immigration problem. We’d be looking for workers and we would be very generous.” As such, he opposes any government subsidies or benefits for those residing here illegally.
He opposes the building of a fence along the U.S. southern border.
Michele Bachmann: The congresswoman opposes any amnesty for illegal aliens as well as the DREAM Act. During the CNN GOP primary debate November 22, 2011, she stated, “Well, I don't agree that you would make 11 million workers legal, because that, in effect, is amnesty. And I also don't agree that you would give the DREAM Act on a federal level… But I don't agree that we should make 11 million workers who are here illegally legal.”
She also supports building a fence along the entire stretch of the U.S. border with Mexico.
Newt Gingrich: After breaking from the pack of other GOP presidential contenders earlier last fall by calling for a more “humane” approach to dealing with illegal aliens, the former Speaker of the House sought to change his stance a bit by announcing "I am not for amnesty for anyone. I am not for a path to citizenship for anybody who got here illegally… But I am for a path to legality for those people whose ties run so deeply in America that it would truly be a tragedy to try and rip their family apart," during a town hall meeting in Naples, Florida in November.
In explaining how he would deal with immigration law violators, Gingrich stated, "I would have very, very stiff economic penalties for anyone who hires somebody who is not legally inside the system… I would be very tough.”
Rick Santorum: During his time as senator, Santorum consistently opposed bills that offered amnesty/legalization benefits for illegal aliens. He voted against a bill that would’ve created a guest worker program with a path to US citizenship for certain illegal aliens. He voted against a bill that would’ve allowed certain illegal aliens to participate in social security. He also voted in favor of building a fence along the U.S./Mexico border.
As Paul, Santorum doesn’t believe in amnesty nor does he support deporting 12-18 million illegal aliens already residing in the U.S. At the Tea Party GOP debate in September 2011, he stated, “ I believe we need to build more fence. I believe that we need to secure the border using technology and more personnel. And until we build that border, we should neither have storm troopers come in and throw people out of the country nor should we provide amnesty.”
Iowa voters will be the first to hit the primary polls in 2012. Iowans go to the caucuses January 3, 2012.
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