On the Issues: immigration differentiates 2016 hopefuls

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During this presidential election, one of the key differences between the candidates — within and between parties — has been the ways in which each wants to reform immigration. While many of the proposals are similar, the details of immigration policies can be the difference between families being ripped apart, jobs for millions of citizens, and even life or death. Long story short, this is an extremely important issue to keep track of throughout this election. To that end, here are some brief summaries on each candidate’s immigration policy:

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush

Bush believes in further securing the southern border;.However, he believes fencing is useless and creates a barrier to legal commerce. Instead, he wants to expand border patrol’s powers, particularly their access to waterways along the border, and implement an e-verify system that would force employers to immediately check the work eligibility of their workers upon hiring or expanding H1-B visas for highly skilled workers. Bush also believes people in the country illegally ought to be able to work towards legal status but not necessarily citizenship.

Retired Neurosurgeon Ben Carson

Carson feels that through a double fence, prosecution of all first time offenders, and certain technologies, the border could be secured within one year. He also wants to tie all benefits of United States residency to legal citizenship. People without criminal records would be allowed to remain as guest workers but forced to pay a tax penalty.

Senator Ted Cruz (R–TX)

Cruz vows to build a wall along all of the southern border and to replace all single fencing, saying he will get corporate bankruptcy enthusiast Donald Trump to pay for it. He also wants this wall to be law enforcement-accessible and reinforced by technology including cameras, sensors, and monitors. He also wants to equip the southern border with biometric tracking systems. Cruz has also pledged to triple border patrol numbers with a particular focus on aerial surveillance.

In addition, Cruz has said he will reverse Obama’s “executive amnesty” and rescind permissions to stay for current immigrants in the United States illegally. He also will cut down on H1-B visas until unemployment is lowered (at less than 5 percent, the United States is currently close to what economists call full employment, so it is safe to assume Cruz is talking about a permanent freeze on H1-B visas).

Cruz will also cut off all federal funds to “sanctuary cities,” cities that do not cooperate with the federal government in deporting illegal immigrants who have interactions with the criminal justice system.

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Kasich has said Trump’s plan to deport 11 million citizens is unrealistic and backs a path to legal status for illegal immigrants currently in the United States. In both public appearances and at debates he has said illegal immigrants contribute a lot to America and has seemed disturbed by the idea of breaking up families to enforce immigration laws.

Kasich has backed away from the idea that birthright citizenship should be ended and has claimed that guest worker programs should be expanded to meet the needs of American businesses. Kasich has not ruled out a path to citizenship, but a path to legal status is central to his stance on immigration.

Senator Marco Rubio (R–FL)

Rubio once was a member of the “Gang of Eight,” a group that attempted to pass a sweeping immigration reform bill that included a provision for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Rubio has since backed away from that idea, claiming that it is too divisive in the current American political climate. Instead, he now prefers programs like e-verify to lower the population of illegal immigrants in America. Rubio has said that after ten years (twice the length of residency required for citizenship), illegal immigrants would need to learn English (rather than the official language of America, nothing) and undergo a background check. After passing those two hurdles, they would pay a fine for legal status.

The Trump Organization Chairman and President Donald Trump

Trump famously claimed that Mexico was sending its criminals across the border to commit crimes in the United States. He wants to build a wall along the southern border to prevent people from entering the country unless they have been outstanding, in which case he will allow them in through a “big, beautiful door.” He has claimed he will get Mexico to pay for this wall despite Mexican officials claiming that such a proposition is a nonstarter. Trump has implied that he will impound remittances from illegal immigrants to their families in their home countries to force the hand of the Mexican government.

Trump has said he will triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, and mandate e-verify.

He will also force cities to detain illegal immigrants and return illegal immigrants with even misdemeanor charges to their countries of citizenship while defunding cities that do not comply. Trump also wants to commit ICE members to gang task forces in cities.

Trump also wants to make it more costly to overstay a visa, claiming it is a threat to national security as well as birthright citizenship, the basis of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

In order to keep more work with native workers, Trump wants to increase the prevailing wage for H1-B visas to prevent companies from filling positions with foreign born workers over Americans in addition to simply regulating that employers look for American citizens first before hiring workers on visas. Trump also wants to freeze immigration and green cards temporarily to force employers to look at Americans.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Secretary Clinton has long been a proponent of immigration reform, backing the DREAM act when she was a Senator. She has proposed a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally and has backed President Obama’s executive action to protect DREAMers from deportation. In addition to protection from deportation, Secretary Clinton has also proposed ending private detention centers which she believes contributes to over-incarceration of immigrant families.

Clinton has also vowed to protect access to health care for all immigrants, particularly children. She has also proposed expanding access to fee waivers and English programs to help more people become naturalized.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I–VT)

Sanders has long been an advocate of border security and contraction of the H2-B guest worker program for unskilled labor calling it a “Koch Brothers proposal,” but his focus on immigration has shifted from the source to the result. Sanders finds deportations and detention centers to be cruel and vows to end them and has occasionally had a particularly sharp focus on LGBT immigrants. He has also voiced support for comprehensive immigration reform, though it is not clear exactly what form of immigration reform he supports beyond a “roadmap to citizenship.” Senator Sanders has also vowed to use executive action if Congress will not work with him.

To make things more concrete, in Thursday’s debate, Sanders threw out his past uneasiness with immigration and said there will be a path to citizenship for all people in the United States illegally if he is elected president.