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Presidential Candidates Take a Stand on Immigration

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March 2008
Presidential Candidates Take a Stand on Immigration

Immigration has been the hot-button issue in this year’s presidential debates, particularly among the Republican candidates. Much like gay marriage in 2004, curbing immigration seems to be a rallying point for many segments of the U.S. voting population. Georgia primary elections take place on February 5th. Here’s a primer on the major candidates’ stance on immigration:

REPUBLICANS

Rudolph Giuliani: Supports a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines; finish border fence. As mayor of New York City, filed a suit in federal court challenging a provision in a welfare law that allowed city employees to turn in illegal immigrants seeking services like police protection, hospital care and public education. As mayor of New York City, denounced a law that cut off Social Security benefits, food stamps and health benefits to legal immigrants who were not citizens and lobbied Congressmen to change it.

Mike Huckabee: Give illegal immigrants 120 days to register and leave, after which they could apply to return; toughen penalties for hiring illegal immigrants; finish border fence by 2010. Increase skilled worker visas. Create system to verify legal status. Proposed a bill that would have allowed children of undocumented immigrants who graduated high school to qualify to receive a state scholarship to attend an Arkansas college.

John McCain: Supports a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines; voted for fence along Mexican border. Co-Sponsored the DREAM Act of 2007, which would allow states to give illegal immigrants in-state tuition for higher education and let the homeland security secretary confer legal resident status on some illegal immigrant students.

Mitt Romney: No path to legalization; toughen penalties for hiring illegal immigrants; finish building border fence. As governor of Massachusetts, opposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Vetoed a bill allowing the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state universities. Signed an agreement with federal authorities in December 2006, allowing Massachusetts State Police to arrest and seek deportation of suspected illegal immigrants they encounter over the course of their normal duties.

Fred Thompson: No path to legalization; increase enforcement against illegal workers; finish border fence. Require employers to use the Homeland Security database to verify status. Cut financing to governments that offer benefits to illegal immigrants or do not enforce laws.

DEMOCRATS

Hillary Clinton: Supports a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines; toughen penalties for hiring illegal immigrants; voted for fence along Mexican border. Voted yes on the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006," which would have created a guest worker program and addressed border security issues.

Barack Obama: Supports a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines; toughen penalties for hiring illegal immigrants; voted for fence along Mexican border. Co-Sponsored the DREAM Act of 2007, Voted yes on the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006," which would have created a guest worker program and addressed border security issues. Co-sponsored the Citizenship Promotion Act 2007, which would require the government to freeze the fee that legal immigrants pay for each application for services at current levels and called for $80 million a year to promote citizenship.

John Edwards: Supports a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines; toughen penalties for hiring illegal immigrants; supports limited border fence. Co-Sponsored the DREAM Act of 2003, Co-Sponsored the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2001, which was drafted after Sept. 11 and tightened border security in the context of combating terrorism.


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