Election 2014: GOP candidates talk immigration, Boehner, gun laws

The Bee’s editorial board met with the three Republican candidates challenging Democratic incumbent Ami Bera for California’s 7th Congressional District seat. They talked about how John Boehner has done as speaker of the House, about immigration reform and whether California should have to recognize gun laws from other states.

Igor Birman

Chief of staff to Rep. Tom McClintock, on leave.

Name three areas where you differ from Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove.

I’m not running against McClintock. How about I tell you three different ways I differ from Doug Ose, who is my opponent.

I will vote to lower taxes. He’s voted against attempts to lower taxes at least three times at least three years in a row. I will vote against increases to the debt ceiling ... and I will not vote for amnesty.

You’re against a path to citizenship?

At the present moment, yes. I consider that a fruitless endeavor because for as long as the borders are porous, for as long as the people who want to come here legally like I did have to wait in these long and bureaucratic lines for no good reason, giving those who are here illegally either faster citizenship or legalizing them altogether doesn’t solve the problem because you’ll be confronted with a population of illegal aliens in two, five or 10 years again.

What is the immigration solution?

I want to further increase legal immigration. But before we can do that, we need to secure our borders to the point where we’re not just unnecessarily building a wall – that’s a knee-jerk answer you’re going to hear from most folk – but tracking who comes and goes with visitor visas and taking control of the folks we let into country in terms of tracking when they leave.

Elizabeth Emken

Businesswoman, former Autism Speaks executive

How do you think Boehner handled the debt crisis and government shutdown?

I have seen very little I’m happy with in Washington, D.C., right now. On either side of the aisle, to be perfectly blunt. I don’t like any of my options back there at the moment, so my attitude is, I’m going to try to go back there and make a positive impact.

Would you have voted to shut down the government?

No, because again it’s disingenuous to act surprised the bill is due. Congress is there to authorize funding for these programs.

What would you do about immigration?

We need to have a guest-worker program. We have the visas, and we should be able to do that for agricultural workers, too. We need a guest-worker program. I do believe that in order to make that successful – and I want it to be successful – we have to have truly a secure border. … If everyone is supportive in recognizing that we’re going to get serious about enforcing the border, I think the guest worker program will have a better chance at being successful and it will take pressure off the border.

Doug Ose

Developer, business owner, former congressman

How do you think Boehner’s done as speaker?

I think he’s had good days and bad. He’s got a difficult task in front of him. He has a caucus that isn’t always singing off the same page of music. And his job is to present, where needed, credible alternatives to what the administration or the Senate might propose. And that’s not always an easy task.

What would you do about immigration?

We have to secure the border. When we get that done, we can go on to a deliberate, reasoned discussion about how to deal with the 11 million people who are here. I am prepared to do that. I want to be a part of that solution, but I do not trust certain elements on the other side of aisle because they didn’t do the whole deal last time.

Why are you opposed to reciprocity in states’ gun laws?

I think the sheriff of any county needs to be in charge of who’s carrying a concealed weapon. They have the best knowledge of who’s who in a community.