Immigration has played a central role in the presidential campaign.
The three remaining Republicans in the race take varying stands on how the United States should treat immigrants living in the country illegally, whether it’s possible to have Mexico pay for a wall at the Southern border and whether undocumented immigrants should be able to stay in the U.S. legally.
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New York businessman Donald Trump launched his campaign for the presidency by promising to build a “great, great wall” on the U.S. Southern border. He’s pledged to have Mexico pay for it, threatening to increase visa fees and cut off the flow of money that immigrants send home. Mexico’s president has said his country won’t pay – which has prompted Trump to insist that the wall “just got 10 feet taller.” Trump’s cost estimates range from $8 billion to $12 billion.
When he ran for Senate in 2012, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz advocated building a border wall – and his immigration plan says he will “fulfill the promise Congress made to the American people almost 10 years ago by completing all 700 miles of priority fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich supports completion of a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border, but dismisses Trump’s vow to have Mexico pay.
Are you kidding me? That’s not going to happen.
John Kasich, dismissing Trump’s vow to have Mexico pay for a border wall.
Trump has called for ending birthright citizenship, calling it the “biggest magnet for illegal immigration.” But he has said he’s not proposing that the Constitution be changed, telling Fox News in August that repeal would “take too long.”
Instead, he said it should instead be tested in court, saying that he doesn’t believe babies born in the United States to immigrants who are in the country illegally are American citizens.
Cruz in 2011 said birthright was in the Constitution. But as a presidential candidate, he says he wants it ended. “Birthright citizenship was meant to ensure that the children of slaves were guaranteed citizenship,” he said. “It was not meant to confer citizenship on the children of people who are here illegally.” He would try legislation or a constitutional amendment to end it.
Kasich supported a bill in 2010 that would have ended birthright citizenship, but now says, “I don’t think we need to go there at this point.” He told the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in October 2015: “If you’re born here, you’re a citizen.”
Trump has called for nationwide use of E-Verify, which involves an employer checking employees’ Social Security numbers to make sure they’re legitimate. Trump says on his website that “this simple measure will protect jobs for unemployed Americans.” He has said that he uses the system “on just about every job.”
Cruz calls for classifying E-Verify as an essential national security screening tool. He would require E-Verify for all federal contractors and subcontractors.
Kasich hasn’t been specific. When asked during a televised town hall meeting earlier this month whether he liked E-Verify, he replied, “From what I know about it.”
A path to citizenship
Trump wants to deport immigrants living in the United States illegally, but has said he’d let the “good ones” back through a “merit system” and would support legal status for some immigrants once the border was secured.
Cruz says he opposes a path to citizenship, but in 2013 proposed an amendment to an immigration bill that would have created legal status for those in the U.S. illegally. Cruz said it was a ploy and he’s opposed to either citizenship or legal status.
Kasich supports a path to legalization, not citizenship, for undocumented immigrants.
Trump has pledged to “humanely” deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, saying he’d create a “deportation force” to do so.
“They will go out,” he said at the debate in February. “Some will come back, the best, through a process.”
In an echo of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, he suggests that some immigrants would embrace “self-deportation,” saying some “are going to leave as soon as they see others going out.”
Cruz has beefed up calls to increase deportations. He said law enforcement wouldn’t go door to door, but told Fox News in February that deportation is “what (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) exists for.”
Kasich favors an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws and says the 11 million immigrations living in the United States illegally should get a path to legalization if they’ve not committed a crime.
Guest worker programs
Trump has held several positions on the H-1B visas for skilled workers. He takes a hard line on his campaign website, saying “petitions for workers should be mailed to the unemployment office,” not to federal immigration officials.
He moderated his position at two debates, saying he supported the visas.
I’m changing it, and I’m softening the position, because we have to have talented people in this country.
Donald Trump at the March 3 debate
Later in March, he acknowledged he used the H-1B program as an employer, but said he and others “shouldn’t be allowed” and that he wants to end the program.
Cruz in 2013 proposed increasing H-1B visas by 500 percent from 65,000 to 325,000 as part of a larger immigration bill. In a reversal, he now wants the program suspended while it is investigated and a cooling off period for companies to apply for after layoffs, strikes or furloughs.
Kasich supports a guest worker program, telling the told the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in October 2015 that “people ought to be able to come in and work and be able to go back home.”