Fred Thompson on Immigration

Former Republican Senator (TN)

Special status for illegals disrespects legal immigrants

Q: The majority are in favor of granting legal status to undocumented aliens if they meet certain criteria. If the majority supports that, why not support that idea?

A: Because we have to enforce our borders, and we have to uphold the law. There are millions of people who have stood in line in US embassies around the world, waiting to become American citizens, waiting to become legal residents of the US. But when they finally come here, and when they are joined by those people in Latin America who have often fought tyranny, who have fought against the Castro regime, who have come here and risked their lives to become US citizens, when all those people come here, they become a part of us; they become a part of our family. It would disrespect them if we said other people who had not obeyed the law and had not gone through the process, to set them above them and to give them special status above those who have obeyed the law and fought so hard to become good American citizens and legal residents.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

Focus on chain migration, not anchor babies

Q: There are still millions of children that were born here that at least have one undocumented parent. Do these children have the right not to be separated from their parents?

A: Our courts have ruled that such babies born here are US citizens. That’s part of the 14th Amendment as has been interpreted by the courts. I believe that the concentration should not be on the concern of waiting until that child grows up and serves as an anchor baby, as we hear so much talk about. I believe the concern should be chain migration. Right now, we have a situation where people can bring in spouses, children, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and so forth. I think that people should be able to serve as a basis for the bringing in of their spouses and of their children, but I do not think there should be endless chain migration. So I think that is the issue to focus on, and not innocent children who are born here not of their own accord and who our courts have said our US citizens.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

Pledges to veto any immigration bill that involves amnesty

Q: Will you pledge tonight, if elected president, to veto any immigration bill that involves amnesty for those that have come here illegally?

A: Yes, I pledge that. A nation that cannot and will not defend its own borders will not forever remain a sovereign nation. And it’s unfair.

Source: 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida Nov 28, 2007

Voted for law to abolish sanctuary cities

THOMPSON: I voted for and we passed an anti-sanctuary city bill, outlawed them. Mayor Giuliani went to court, filed suit himself to overturn our abolition of sanctuary cities. And, fortunately, he lost.

GIULIANI: New York City had a policy of allowing people who are illegal immigrants to report crime and to put their children in school. Otherwise, we reported every single illegal immigrant that committed a crime. The results were pretty darn good. I brought down crime by over 60%. I brought down homicide by 67%. I had the most legal city in the country. And I took the crime capital of America and I turned it into the safest large city in the country. The senator has never had executive responsibility. He’s never had the weight of people’s safety and security on his shoulders. I have. And I think I out-performed any expectations.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida Oct 21, 2007

Secure our borders and end “sanctuary cities”

The United States is a nation of immigrants. Throughout our history, legal immigrants have brought energy, ideas, strength, and diversity to our country, our economy, and our culture. This must continue. But in the post-9/11 world, immigration is more of a national security issue. A government that cannot secure its borders and determine who may enter and who may not, abrogates a fundamental responsibility. I am committed to:
Source: Campaign website, www.Fred08.com, “Issues” Sep 20, 2007

Protecting our border is part of being a sovereign nation

When we look to Washington, we see a bureaucratized government that is increasingly unable or unwilling to carry out basic governmental functions, including the fundamental responsibility of securing our borders against illegal immigration and enforcing our laws. A nation that can’t protect its border will no longer be a sovereign nation.
Source: Candidacy announcement speech Sep 6, 2007

Eliminate welfare incentives for illegal immigrants

Thompson has been a consistent supporter of conservative immigration proposals that would improve border security; eliminate incentives for illegal immigrants to come to the US & obtain welfare benefits; and strengthen employment verification procedures. He has an “A+” rating from Americans for Better Immigration for his senate voting record on border security issues:
Source: Press Release, “Pro-Border Security” Sep 5, 2007

Immigration reform failed because feds lost credibility

The recent immigration bill failed for good reason. The federal government simply had no credibility on the issue. Current laws have not been enforced. The federal government has been failing in its fundamental responsibility to control the borders. Worse, when state officials have tried to act with reforms of their own, federal authorities have gotten in the way. Many in both parties in Congress have learned a lesson: promises about immigration reform aren’t worth much unless you have credibility.
Source: Campaign website, www.Fred08.com, “Principles” Sep 1, 2007

Immigration in large part has to do with national security

The immigration problem has to do with immigration, but it in large part has to do with national security. We live in a world now; we have inherited a world that is watching the attempted marriage between radical Islamic fundamentalism and nuclear technology. We live in a world where 40 countries have fissile materials sufficient to make a nuclear weapon, and the bad guys are trying their best to get their hands on it. And we live in a country with porous borders and porous ports, and it doesn’t take a genius to put all that together and see the problem that we’ve got in this country. And I think people are going to demand that we address that first. I don’t think the 12 million illegal aliens that are here are as much a concern a 12 million and the next 12 million on infinitum. We were told before that there was a solution to this if we would only pass a bill, but we did that in 1986 and now we’re coming back with the same old stuff.
Source: Address at the Lincoln Club 45th Annual Dinner Aug 3, 2007

Opposes amnesty in any form

Thompson has made it clear that he opposes amnesty, in any form, and that securing our borders from a further flood of those who do not enter legally is essential to the security of the US: “As usual, we avoided the illegal-immigration problem for as long as we could. I think its time for a little plain talk to the leaders of Mexico. What does it say about the leadership of a country when that country’s economy and politics are dependent upon the exportation of its own citizens?”
Source: The Fred Factor, by Steve Gill, p.160-162 Jun 3, 2007

Nation loses sovereignty if it cannot secure its own borders

Somewhere between 12 and 20 million people had somehow come into this country unnoticed. It’s like we went overnight from “no problem” to a problem so big that it now defies a good solution.

We know that the overwhelming majority of illegals come across the Mexican border. Fortunately, we’ve got someone who is all too willing to tell us what we should do about it -- president Calderon of Mexico.

Pres. Calderon criticizes our efforts to secure the border with things such as border fencing. He apparently thinks we should do nothing except make American citizens out of his constituents.

I think its time for a little plain talk to the leaders of Mexico. Something like: Hey guys, you’re our friends and neighbors and we love you but it’s time you had a little dose of reality. A sovereign nation loses that status if it cannot secure its own borders and we are going to do whatever is necessary to do so.

Source: Thompson’s blog on ABCradio.com, “Southern Exposure” Apr 13, 2007

Can’t round up 12M illegals, so focus on preventing next 12M

Q: You favor comprehensive immigration reform?

A: No, no.

Q: You said last year about illegals, “You’re going to have to, in some way, work out a deal where they can have some aspirations of citizenship but not make it so easy that it’s unfair to the people waiting in line and abiding by the law.” And you said, “Look, it’s just not realistic that we’re going to round up 12 million people and ship them all out of the country.”

A: Well, that’s true, as a general statement. We woke up one day after years of neglect and apparently discovered that we have somewhere between 12 million and 20 million illegal aliens in this country. So it became an impossible situation to deal with. I mean, there’s really no good solution. So what do you do? You have to start over. Well, I’m concerned about the next 12 million or 20 million. So that’s why enforcement, and enforcement at the border, has to be primary.

Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews Mar 11, 2007

Voted YES on allowing more foreign workers into the US for farm work.

Vote to create a national registry containing names of U.S. workers who want to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work, and to require the Attorney General to allow more foreign workers into the U.S. for farm work under H-2A visas.
Reference: Bill S.2260 ; vote number 1998-233 on Jul 23, 1998

Voted YES on visas for skilled workers.

This bill expanded the Visa program for skilled workers.
Status: Bill Passed Y)78; N)20; NV)2
Reference: The American Competitiveness Act; Bill S. 1723 ; vote number 1998-141 on May 18, 1998

Voted YES on limit welfare for immigrants.

This amendment would have restored food stamp benefits to the children of legal immigrants
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)59; N)41
Reference: Motion to table Kennedy Amdt #429; Bill S.947 ; vote number 1997-111 on Jun 24, 1997

Other candidates on Immigration: Fred Thompson on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010