2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library: on Immigration


John McCain: Deport 2 million illegal immigrants who committed crimes

There are 2 million people who are here who have committed crimes. They have to be rounded up and deported. We’re all basically in agreement there are humanitarian situations. It varies with how long they’ve been here, et cetera. We are all committed to carrying out the mandate of the American people, which is a national security issue, which is securing the borders. That was part of the original proposal, but the American people didn’t trust or have confidence in us that we would do it.
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

John McCain: Would no longer push his own 2006 immigration proposal

Q: Your 2006 immigration proposal was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were already here. At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it?

A: No, it would not, because we know what the situation is today. So to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate, it won’t. We went through various amendments which prevented that proposal. We will secure the borders first when I am president. I know how to d that. I come from a border state, where we know about building walls, and vehicle barriers, and sensors, and all of the things necessary. I will have the border state governors certify the borders are secured. Then we will move onto the other aspects of this issue, as importantly as tamper-proof biometric documents, which then, unless an employer hires someone with those documents, that employer will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That will cause a lot of people to leave voluntarily.

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

Mike Huckabee: Illegal immigrants must go home and start over

The people who are here would have to go to the back of the line and start over. It’s not to be cruel. It’s to make that everybody living in our boundaries lives in the light, not the darkness, and doesn’t run and hide every time they see a police car. We owe it not just to the people who have waited in line a long time, but also those who do want to live and work here, and create a system that is legal, that makes sense and actually protects our borders but protects the dignity & worth of every person
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

Mike Huckabee: Build a border fence within 18 months of taking office

Q: In order to curb illegal immigration, do you support making changes in the law that would give citizenship only to children who are born to parents who are legally in this country at the time the child is born?

A: The Supreme Court has already ruled on that. The real issue is, that doesn’t fix the problem. What we’ve got to do is to have a secure border fence, something I have proposed that we do within 18 months of taking office. If we don’t have a secure fence and have just this open door that people can come in and out at will, we’re never going to deal with this issue effectively and responsibly. And today, many Americans are angry not that people want to come here -- and I’m going to say it again -- people in this country are grateful to God they’re in a land that people are trying to break into and not one they’re trying to break out of. So it’s not that we’re building a fence so we can keep our people in or keep people out, but that people who do come here would have to come legally.

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

Mitt Romney: Deport illegal immigrants in 90 days under the ideal setting

Q: You said that for a lot of illegal immigrants who are here, under your plan, we could deport many of them within 90 days. How could we do it that quickly?

A: My plan is this, which is for those that have come here illegally and are here illegally today, no amnesty. Now, how do people return home? Under the ideal setting, at least in my view, you say to those who have just come in recently, we’re going to send you back home immediately, we’re not going to let you stay here. You just go back home. For those that have been here, let’s say, five years, and have kids in school, you allow kids to complete the school year, you allow people to make their arrangements, and allow them to return back home. Those that have been here a long time, with kids that have responsibilities here and so forth, you let stay enough time to organize their affairs and go home.

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

Mitt Romney: Found Z-visa & McCain-Kennedy bill to be offensive

The illegal immigrants are free to get in line with everyone else that wants to become a permanent resident or citizen. But no special pathway, no special deal that says because you’re here illegally, you get to stay here for the rest of your life. That’s what I found to be so offensive with the Z visa, which was in the McCain-Kennedy bill. It said to all illegal aliens, unless you’re a criminal, you’re all allowed to stay here for $3,000 for the rest of your life. And that’s a mistake. Let us have a fixed period of time--90 days for some, depending on their circumstances, others longer, to the end of the school year--even longer potentially. Do it in a humane & compassionate way, but say to those who have come here legally, you must return home, you must get in line with everybody else who wants to come here. There are millions throughout the world who want to come to this country legally. It’s a wonderful privilege. But those that have come here illegally should not be given a better deal
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

  • The above quotations are from 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, on Jan. 30, 2008, the eve of Super Tuesday.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Immigration.
  • Click here for other issues (main summary page).
  • Click here for more quotes by John McCain on Immigration.
  • Click here for more quotes by Mitt Romney on Immigration.
Candidates and political leaders on Immigration:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Pres.:Sen.Barack Obama
V.P.:Sen.Joe Biden
State:Hillary Clinton
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
Treas.:Tim Geithner
DoD:Robert Gates
A.G.:Eric Holder
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DoC:Bill Richardson
Outgoing Bush Administration:
Pres.:George Bush
V.P.:Dick Cheney
A.G.:John Ashcroft(2005)
DEA:Asa Hutchinson(2005)
USDA:Mike Johanns(2007)
EPA:Mike Leavitt
HUD:Mel Martinez(2003)
State:Colin Powell(2005)
State:Condoleezza Rice
HHS:Tommy Thompson(2005)
2008 Presidential contenders:
AIP: Frank McEnulty
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP VP: Gov.Sarah Palin
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Independent: Ralph Nader
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
NAIP: Amb.Alan Keyes
Socialist: Brian Moore
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