Immigration, a prominent issue as the presidential campaign begins in earnest, is a complicated, emotional and broad subject. Immigration reform has been one of President Obama’s biggest political battles. As the presidential candidate field fills up, many are wondering whether the next White House occupant might help or hinder prospects for comprehensive reform, or try to undo Obama’s immigration executive action for undocumented immigrants. Here’s a look at where some of the 2016 candidates stand on the issue:
Lincoln Chafee: Rhode Island Governor and former Senator supports a path to legalization for undocumented workers and guest worker programs and favors allowing illegal immigrants to participate in Social Security.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Clinton came out fully in favor of a path to eventual citizenship for most people here undocumented and pledged to expand Obama’s executive actions if Congress does not move on an immigration overhaul.
Martin O’Malley: Former Maryland Governor believes we have delayed immigration reform far too long. When people live in the full light of an open society, paying their taxes abiding by the rules,that makes our country not only safer and more secure, because people are not relegated to living in the shadows, you’re not creating underground economies. It also is better for wages.
Bernie Sanders: The Vermont Senator favor’s President Obama’s executive action.
Jim Webb: The Democratic Senator supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants but believes we need to secure the border first.
Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor has endorsed a path to permanent legal status, short of citizenship, for people here undocumented. Bush opposes Obama’s executive actions and has also called for an overhaul of the country’s legal immigration process to focus more on letting in needed workers rather than letting families reunify
Ben Carson: The retired neurosurgeon said he supported allowing undocumented immigrants to become “guest workers” who would pay taxes and don’t have to live in the shadows. He also advocated securing ALL U.S. borders and turn off the spigot dispensing all the things they are coming here to get.
Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor once embraced letting people who are in the country undocumented stay.
Ted Cruz: The Texas senator has been seen as the Republican field’s firebrand on immigration. He says the border must be secured first, and the visa system changed. Only then, Cruz says, can the country discuss what is to be done about people here undocumented.
Carly Fiorina: The former Hewlett-Packard CEO does not support a pathway to citizenship for those who came here and stayed illegally. We have the cart backwards when we pass something called the Dream Act before we’ve even secured the border.
Lindsey Graham: The South Carolina Senator says easing immigration laws can fix the impending retirement of tens of millions of baby boomers and a shortage of workers to replace them.
Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor is among the many Republicans who vow to focus on border security. Yet he argues for a path to citizenship for young people who were brought to the U.S. undocumented by their parents.
Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana Governor recommends expanded legal immigration and a path to citizenship for undocumented residents only after the border is secured.
John Kasich: The Ohio Governor stated that he doesn’t like the idea of citizenship but he wouldn’t take it off the table.
George Pataki: The New York Governor favors legal residency after 200 hours of service, however he does not favor an executive order on immigration.
Rand Paul: The Kentucky senator has voiced frustration with fellow Republicans who describe any policy as “amnesty” if it would somehow let people here undocumented stay, but he has not endorsed a specific way to allow people to stay.
Rick Perry: The former Texas Governor stated that we better be talking about having a plan to secure the border before ever having a conversation about a path for citizenship.
Marco Rubio: The Florida senator and son of Cuban immigrants co-authored a Senate bill that would have made citizenship possible for people in the U.S. undocumented, once they learned English, paid back taxes and passed a background test. His approach is to start with securing the border and end with letting people who are in the U.S. undocumented stay.
Rick Santorum: Former Pennsylvania Senator called for a 25% reduction of low-skilled immigrants coming into the country legally.
Donald Trump: Advocates building a wall on the US-Mexican border and predator drones to keep illegals out and believes citizenships for illegal immigrants is a suicide mission.
Scott Walker: the Wisconsin Governor does not support a pathway to citizenship. He will secure the border, enforce the law, no amnesty, and go forward with a legal immigration system that gives priority to American working families and wages.
Immigration reform could well be the one issue that defines the 2016 presidential election.