From our main offices in Manchester, New Hampshire, we have a front-row seat to the campaign for the presidential nomination in 2016. Even though the primary is still eight months away, declared and undeclared candidates are streaming through the state, making speeches, holding events, shaking hands. Rumor has it that some are kissing babies, but we have not seen that personally. And, while electing the next President of the United States is important for myriad reasons, the fate of comprehensive immigration reform is at the top of the list.
As of this writing, there are 10 Republican candidates who have officially declared their candidacy for their party's nomination, along with 4 Democrats. By all media accounts, more Republicans will follow, and possibly some Democrats, as well. We will add those candidates' positions on immigration as they declare officially.
A quick summary of the current crop of candidates' respective positions on immigration/immigration reform, listed alphabetically by party:
- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz - The Canadian-born Senator of Cuban descent has publicy opposed immigration reform measures. He refers to all legalization, Deferred Action, etc. as "amnesty", and has proposed huge increases in border enforcement, including building a massive wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Dr. Ben Carson - Dr. Carson has struck a chord among conservative voters with his extremely conservative positions. His statements on immigration suggest support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, but with a focus on additional border security/heightened enforcement first.
- Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina - Having never held elective office, Ms. Fiorano has never voted on the issue. She has spoken in general terms, emphasizing increased border enforcement. When running for statewide office in California, Ms. Fiorina supported the DREAM Act.
- South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham - Also a member of the Senate's "Gang of Eight", Sen. Graham has generally supported CIR, and has framed immigration reform as a national security and economic impact issue.
- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee - The former governor, minister, and television commentator has been somewhat supportive of immigration reform in the past, but recent speeches have seen him focusing on border security above all other considerations.
- Kentucky Senator Rand Paul - A self-described "immigration moderate", Sen. Paul has tended towards the restrictionist end of the spectrum, seeking to end birthright citizenship, and opposing Executive Action.
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry - As the governor of a major border state, Gov. Perry has been supportive of certain immigration measures, notably allowing the undocumented to pay in-state college tuition in Texas.
- Former New York Gov. George Pataki - Generally supportive of immigration reform, including some sort of pathway to citizenship, or at least to legalization.
- Florida Sen. Marco Rubio - An original member of the "Gang of Eight" which helped broker a Comprehensive Immigration Reform compromise in the Senate, Sen. Rubio has backtracked, tacked in different directions, and otherwise seemingly foundered in terms of his immigration position. He has supported the DREAM Act in the past, but has also criticized DAPA and other aspects of Executive Action.
- Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum - Opposes immigration reform measures, while blaming economic problems on legal and illegal immigration.
- Former Rhode Island Governor and U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee - Having held elective office as a Republican, Gov. Chafee has supported immigration reform, as well as heightened border security. He has called for tolerance and inclusion, and repealed an executive order directing stae and local law enforcement in Rhode Island to enforce federal immigration law.
- Former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - The Democratic frontrunner surprised some political observers by expressing bold support for immigration reform and executive action beyond what President Barack Obama has sought to implement through Executive Action.
- Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley - Supports comprehensive immigration reform. He explained that making progress on immigration reform has been challenging because "politicians treated it like a niche issue affecting a specific voting bloc as opposed to a critical economic policy."
- Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders - While not talking much about immigration reform since declaring his candidacy for President, Sen. Sanders issued a statement when President Obama announced Executive Action in November 2014: “I’m a strong supporter of immigration reform and of the need to provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. I support President Obama’s action to help working families stay together. I think everyone agrees that the current immigration system is broken. The Senate passed an immigration reform bill more than a year ago but House Republicans refused to even consider it. They have left the president with little choice but to act on his own."
While the next President's stance on immigration reform is critical to making progress on this important issue, the composition of both houses of Congress will actually be the determining factor as to whether immigration reform ever becomes a reality.
Stay tuned for more coverage in the national media, and in this space.