2011 Republican primary debate in Ames Iowa: on Immigration


Herman Cain: We have a path to citizenship: it's called legal immigration

Q: When Pres. Obama joked about protecting the borders with alligators and a moat, not only did you embrace the idea, you upped the ante with "a 20-foot barbed wire electrified fence." Were you serious?

A: America has got to learn how to take a joke. But allow me to give you my real solution to the immigration problem. I happen to believe that is four problems.

  1. Yes, we must secure the border with whatever means necessary.
  2. Enforce the laws that are there.
  3. Promote the path to citizenship that's already there. We have a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. It's called legal immigration.
  4. And then, I happen to agree with empowering the states and allow them to deal with that issue. If we work on the right problem, we will be able to solve it.
And in the case of immigration, we've got four problems that we need to work on simultaneously. We can have high fences and wide open doors, all at the same time.
Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa Aug 11, 2011

Jon Huntsman: End patchwork of state laws & just secure the border

Q: You said that we need to build a fence to secure our borders, but then we need to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants already here in the country. You said, "There's got to be an alternative to sending them back. That's unrealistic." Are you proposing citizenship for illegal aliens?

A: The thing we need to do most on illegal immigration--because there has been zero leadership in Washington., we've created this patchwork of solutions in the states, which makes for a very complex & confusing environment. When elected president, I'm simply going to prove to the American people that we can secure the border. That's what they want done. And I'm not going to talk about anything else until we get it done. We can finish. And I will talk to the fou border state governors and get verification from them that, in fact, we've secured the border. And once that is done, then we can move on. But this discussion has zero in the way of any intellectual credibility until such time as we secure the border.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa Aug 11, 2011

Mitt Romney: I like legal immigration; let business determine visas

Q: In 2008, you said you favored allowing American companies to hire more skilled foreign workers. With unemployment at 9.1%, are you still for importing more foreign labor?

A: Well, of course not. We're not looking to bring people in for jobs that can be done by Americans. But at the same time, we want to make sure that America welcomes the best and brightest in the world. If someone comes here and gets a PhD in physics, that's the person I'd like to staple a green card to their diploma, rather than saying to them to go home. I want the best & brightest to be metered into the country based upon the needs of our employment sector & create jobs by bringing technology and innovation that comes from people around the world. I like legal immigration I'd have the number of visas that we give to people here that come here legally, determined in part by the needs of our employment community. But we have to secure our border and crack down on those that bring folks here and hire here illegally.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa Aug 11, 2011

Newt Gingrich: Citizen Boards to decide which immigrants stay and go

Q: You're looking at the idea of having citizen boards choose which illegal immigrants can stay in the country and which would have to go. Who decides the memberships of these boards, and how would they work?

A: I think it's very important to go back and look at how the Selective Service Commission worked in World War II, because it was local, practical decision-making, and people genuinely thought it was fair and it was reasonable.

Q: What about Pres. Obama's joke about protecting the borders wit alligators and a moat?

A: That was the perfect symbol of his failure as a leader. He failed to get any immigration reform through when he controlled the Senate. He could ram through Obamacare, but he couldn't deal with immigration. I would be prepared to take as many people from Homeland Security's bureaucracy in Washington and move them to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, as are needed, to control the border. And we should have English as the official language of government.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa Aug 11, 2011

Ron Paul: Pay attention to US borders, not international borders

Q: Why are you opposed to a system that requires employers to verify the immigration status of their workers?

A: I don't like putting the burden on our businessmen to be the policemen. That means he has to be policing activity. But I have a strong position on immigration. I don't think that we should give amnesty and they become voters. But I do think we should deal with our borders. One way that I would suggest that we could do it is pay less attention to the borders between Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan and bring our troops home and deal with the border. But why do we pay more attention to the borders overseas and less attention to the borders here at home? We now have a mess on the borders, and it has a lot more to do with it than just immigration, because we're financing some of this militarism against the drug dealers on the borders right now to the tune of over $1 billion. And there is a mess down there, but it's much bigger than just the immigration problem.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa Aug 11, 2011

  • The above quotations are from 2011 Republican primary debate at the Iowa State Fair.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Immigration.
  • Click here for other issues (main summary page).
  • Click here for more quotes by Tim Pawlenty on Immigration.
  • Click here for more quotes by Michele Bachmann on Immigration.
2016 Presidential contenders on Immigration:
  Republicans:
Amb.John Bolton(MD)
Gov.Jeb Bush(FL)
Dr.Ben Carson(MD)
Gov.Chris Christie(NJ)
Sen.Ted Cruz(TX)
Carly Fiorina(CA)
Sen.Lindsey Graham(SC)
Gov.Mike Huckabee(AR)
Gov.Jon Huntsman(UT)
Gov.Bobby Jindal(LA)
Gov.John Kasich(OH)
Rep.Peter King(NY)
Gov.Sarah Palin(AK)
Sen.Rand Paul(KY)
Gov.Rick Perry(TX)
Sen.Rob Portman(OH)
Secy.Condi Rice(CA)
Sen.Marco Rubio(FL)
Rep.Paul Ryan(WI)
Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
Gov.Scott Walker(WI)
Democrats:
Gov.Lincoln Chafee(RI)
Secy.Hillary Clinton(NY)
V.P.Joe Biden(DE)
Gov.Andrew Cuomo(NY)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel(IL)
Gov.Martin O`Malley(MD)
Sen.Bernie Sanders(VT)
Gov.Brian Schweitzer(MT)
Dr.Jill Stein(MA)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren(MA)
Sen.Jim Webb(VA)

2016 Third Party Candidates:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg(I-NYC)
Gov.Gary Johnson(L-NM)
Donald Trump(NY)
Gov.Jesse Ventura(I-MN)
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Page last updated: Jul 26, 2015