Published: January 4, 2012

President Obama has always made it known that he favors the enactment of some form of comprehensive immigration reform to allow for a “path to citizenship” for at least some of the approximately 12 million living in the U.S. without legal immigration status. During his term, it’s been a Republican Congress that’s been the main obstacle to getting any type of immigration reform initiative passed, whether it be the DREAM Act, or more comprehensive reform proposals. If you are wondering how the Republican candidates for President would approach the issue – below are direct quotes attributed to each of them, along with my own peanut gallery assessment:

Mitt Romney
“My view is, people who have come here illegally, we welcome you to apply but you must get at the back of the line, because there are millions of people who are in line right now that want to come here legally. I want those to come here legally. Those that are here illegally have to get in line with everybody else.” [Republican Debate, December 15, 2011]

RH – What line are you talking about Mr. Romney? The vast majority of undocumented individuals currently have no avenue toward legal status in the first place, and thus have no line to get into! This sounds good, but has no basis in reality. Maybe, like most politicians, he is just saying what he thinks the public wants to hear just to get elected, and once elected will do whatever suits his political agenda and survival. After Iowa, it looks like BS and nice sound bytes take you places though. Slick guys finish first?

“If I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it? The answer is yes.” [Washington Post, December 31, 2011]

RH – Same assessment as above. Sounds tough, and that’s what Romney thinks he has to sound like on immigration issues. Any reasoning he would cite, like in the first quote, would likely have no basis in reality. Nevertheless, slick guys appear to finish first.

“As President, [I] will also work to establish a policy that staples a green card to the diploma of every eligible student visa holder who graduates from one of our universities with an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering. As President, a first step that [I] will take is to raise the ceiling on the number of visas issued to holders of advanced degrees in Math, Science, and engineering who have job offers in those fields from US companies.” [Believe in America, September 6, 2011]

RH – Great idea, and sounds great.

Newt Gingrich
“I do not believe that the American people are going to tolerate going after somebody who has been here 25 years, who has a family, has children and grandchildren, belongs to a local church. What I proposed is very standard things. Control the border by January 1, 2014. Make English the official language of government. Go to a much better visa program that’s much…that makes it more desirable to visit the U.S. legally. Go to a better deportation program to move people out who shouldn’t be here.” [CBS News, December 18, 2011]

RH – Congratulations Newt. You may win the award for the most honest of this bunch. Your answer is practical and real. Be careful though, honesty may not get you too far in this race. The tougher, “law and order” talk seems to be what most of the other politicians think will win the day.

“Let me start and just say I think that we ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science and engineering so that people stay here.” [Republican Debate, November 22, 2011]

RH- Great idea! Sounds great.

Ron Paul
“Somebody who’s been here and it’s their country I think there should be a program to bring them into the fold…but I want it to be done systematically. I think we need more efficiency at our borders, and allow the people to come in, especially for people who can take care of themselves. But you ask about what we do with 11 million and I would say you have to work out a program of assimilation, but you can’t just say borders don’t count and people should be rewarded for breaking the law.” [Univision, October 2, 2011]

RH- same commentary as for Newt. Its honest, real talk. Not as sexy as law and order though.

“End Birthright Citizenship – As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be granted U.S. citizenship, we’ll never be able to control our immigration problem.” [Ron Paul 2012]

RH- whether you agree with his stance or not, he is honest and truly believes what he is saying, particularly regarding the attractiveness of US citizenship for all children born here. His blunt commentaries appear to be getting him places.

Voted “yes” on H.R. 3736, a bill that increased the number of highly skilled workers from 65,000 to 115,000 by the year 2000. [U.S. House of Representatives, September 24, 1998]

RH- consistent with earlier commentary, he is honest and realistic on this issue as well. What planet he lives on other issues, such as foreign policy, is a whole other question.

Rick Perry
“Amnesty is not on the table period. There will be no amnesty in the United States. We’re a country of law and the idea that we’re going to tell people that somehow or another that that’s all forgiven is not going to happen.” [ABC News, November 29, 2011]

“But I do think that there is a way. That after we secure that border that you can have a process in place for individual who are law- abiding citizens who have done only one thing, as Newt says, 25 years ago or whatever that period of time was, that you can put something in place that basically continues to keep those families together.” [Republican Debate, November 22, 2011]

RH – Amnesty…a word loaded with toxicity in the immigration debate. However Rick, there is already a de facto amnesty in place now, as the US government is looking the other way for the millions in the U.S. without status. True to his inner character, Rick comes off like he wants it both ways and talks from both sides. He is not brave like Newt and some of the others – who says it like it is. Too slick for his own good it seems.

“But if you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society. I think that’s what Texans wanted to do.” [Republican Debate, September 22, 2011]

RH – sounds a little braver, but he tends toward back pedaling whenever one of his controversial positions, such as this, are taken issue with. After Iowa, he seems to be on his way out anyway.

“We need highly technical, trained engineers and biomedical scientists. And a lot of times, you can’t get those people because they can’t get an H-1B visa, for instance.” [CNBC, September 29, 2011]

RH- True!

Rick Santorum
“The idea people who are here 20 or 25 years and came here illegally only committed one illegal act, well, you can’t be here and commit one illegal act because almost everything you’re doing while you’re here is doing things against the law…So we say, we should let that happen. We shouldn’t break up families. We should let them all come…This is false compassion.” [CNN, December 6, 2011]

RH – Honest and practical. No waffling, so it seems.

“First off, I’m actually for a system that allows for people to come here, if they come here on a student visa or they come here on a visa that — you know, where they’re getting some sort of higher education or they’re learning some great skills that are good and necessary for the country — my feeling is, you know, if they graduate and do well, we should — you know, we should have — actually give folks the opportunity to have a green card and to stay here and work.” [Fox News, November 29, 2011]

RH – Sounds good. Is good.

Michele Bachmann
“Well, I don’t agree that you would make 11 million workers legal, because that, in effect, is amnesty. And I also don’t agree that you would give the DREAM Act on a federal level.” [Republican Debate, November 22, 2011]

RH – She sure is honest, and she does not waffle. Is she crazy? Is there any practicality to her approach? Those are separate questions. My take on the practicality of deporting 11 million people – including placing them in removal proceedings and providing “due process”? – HA, Good luck federal government! Anyway, after IOWA, all of her talk, and my commentary, is perhaps moot.

“We think about the United States and what’s in the best interests of the United States. If we can utilize these workers, like Steve jobs wanted to, then we need to offer those visas. That will help the United States. But I don’t agree that we should make 11 million workers who are here illegally legal.” [Republican Debate, November 22, 2011]

RH – Practical and smart on the visas for professionals and skilled workers. Not so much on the other issue.

Jon Huntsman
“I think you have to take a very practical approach to having them [undocumented immigrants] wait in line. There have to be certain requirements. Language requirements. English as an official language for example. Paying back taxes, if that is applicable. There needs to be some steps along the way that would suggest that they have paid whatever price and penalty in order to come out of the shadows and to gain citizenship in this country. You have to create a system whereby you can move towards citizenship. You can’t wish people away. You can’t just use rhetoric that says we’ll ship people back.” [Think Progress, September 19, 2011]

RH – Honest and practical, except for that “line” comment.

“I believe immigration is a human as well as an economic issue, and that children of illegal immigrants shouldn’t be punished for the sins of their parents.” [CBS News, September 23, 2011]

RH – Honest and practical.

“We can’t process people. The H1B visa process is broken. We need to bring in brain power to this country to shore up our economic might. We need to bring in foreign capital to raise real estate prices as well.” [Republican Debate, September 12, 2011]

RH – Smart, practical and honest!

Copyright © 2012, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois