The Republican Party believes in immigration laws and immigration reforms that address the needs of national security. The party has always been divided on to exactly what extent immigration laws should be tightened, but as a whole the party believes that a system needs to be in place to ensure that immigrants who enter this country illegally are not provided with the same benefits that legal citizens are. They believe in warmly welcoming those who enter the country through legal methods, while devoting extra resources to keep out those who try to enter via illegal methods, as well as keeping track of those who enter and when they leave. The party believes that amnesty towards those who have broken immigration laws only encourages future immigrants to enter the country illegally rather than legally. While Republicans recognize that the number of foreign immigrants travelling here has enriched our country, they also believe that requiring them to do so legally is vital to the safety of Americans.
The SAVE Program
The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program is an online system designed to help benefit-issuing agencies, institutions, and licensing agencies determine the immigration status of applicants. The Republican Party not only supports the SAVE program, but would like to see it implemented nation-wide. They also support immigration status verifications within the workplace, and believe that verification measures should be made mandatory throughout the country.
Biometric Data as a Tracking System
It is a strong belief within the Republican Party that the safety of American citizens lies in knowing who is entering our country. Therefore, Republicans support using biometric data to track immigrants as they enter, stay in, and leave the United States. This can be done via the US VISIT system, which has currently been implemented in over 115 airports, as well as land border crossings. This system would allow the government to not only verify the identity of incoming immigrants, but to track how long they stay in the country, and to ensure that they are not remaining here illegally.
Because it would provide these benefits, the Republican Party is pushing for the US VISIT system to be used at all borders, as well as to increase the use of reconnaissance cameras, border patrol agents, and unmanned aerial flights at borders. They also seek to provide border patrol agents with more advanced technology, tools, structures, and sufficient force to properly secure the borders.
The party strongly believes that providing amnesty to illegal immigrants only further encourages illegal immigration. The Republican Party seeks stricter penalties for illegal aliens themselves, as well as for those who help smuggle illegal aliens into the country, those who create fraudulent documents to prolong the ability of illegal aliens to stay in the country, and employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. They also support the right of border patrol agents to deport illegal immigrants without giving them a hearing before a judge.
This belief is one that the party has stuck to, even when it meant opposing their own. In the 2004 Republican Platform, the party spoke out saying that President Bush’s plan to implement a new temporary worker program, allowing those working as illegal aliens to apply for citizenship the same way as those applying from outside the country, would only deter those applying from outside the country to go through the proper channels to do so. Republicans stated that this measure would be providing unfair advantages to those who had broken our laws, and would be putting them on par with those who were working hard to obey the law.
Prioritizing Legal Immigrants
Republicans believe that family and skill should be prioritized when granting citizenship to those who go through the proper legal channels to enter the country. Priority should be given to children and spouses of immigrants that are already legally in the country. They believe the government should emphasize the skills that our economy needs most when determining eligibility, and that the Labor Certification Program should be overhauled. These two measures together would help match qualified workers with work that is in urgent need of filling positions in the country. Despite accusations of being anti-immigration, Republicans do understand the value that immigrants bring to this country, when entering via legal methods. In the Republican Platform adopted at the 2000 GOP convention, the Republican Party declared that it supports increasing the number of H-1B visas, to ensure that high-tech workers are provided to specialized positions, as well as expanding the H-2A program for temporary agricultural workers.
Republicans believe that reforming the Immigration and Naturalization Service could streamline this process. If the service were split into two agencies, one to focus on enforcement and one to focus on service, both processes would flow more smoothly, and get more of the attention they need as national issues.
Boehner on Immigration
House Speaker John Boehner recently announced a plan for immigration reform. The plan was not met with much enthusiasm from either party, but it did propose a solution to the immigration issue. Boehner’s proposal begins “Our nation’s immigration system is broken and our laws are not being enforced. Washington’s failure to fix them is hurting our economy and jeopardizing our national security,” and then continues on to propose an approach to fixing them.
The first section of the plan looks at the importance of border security. Boehner calls for a post-reform, no-tolerance policy for those who illegally cross the border or overstay their visas. He explicitly states that there will be no path at all to citizenship for individuals who broke the immigration laws. Instead, these individuals would be given the option to stay in the country if “they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits).”
Next, Boehner calls for an entry-exit visa tracking system, and a national electronic employment verification system. Boehner’s plan discards the idea of prioritizing extended family when it comes to visas and green cards, and instead focuses on employment and strengthening the economy, and he states that this needs to be done in a way that doesn’t disadvantage current American workers. Boehner plans to not punish children whose parents brought them here illegally, as it was not their decision to commit that crime.
Democrats vs. Republicans on Immigration
Republicans and Democrats alike see a current need for immigration reform. 50% of Republicans say they see a need for immigration reform this year, with 53% of Democrats saying the same.
One of the largest differences that the Democratic and Republican Parties have in regards to their ideas on immigration laws is what they believe the policy should be for those here illegally. While House Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi demand a road to citizenship for illegal immigrants, Boehner’s proposed plan discusses no such accommodation. It does, however, look at a road to legally residing in the country, but without the benefits of citizenship. In fact, despite believing that there is a possibility it will reward and encourage illegal behavior, 70% of Republicans actually believe that the country could benefit from having illegal immigrants join the workforce as legal workers. The difference is in whether or not they should be given an opportunity to become full citizens, with Democrats saying yes and Republicans saying no.
That is not to say that no Republicans believe in a road to citizenship. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that a large percentage of Republicans would support letting illegal immigrants become citizens, after a long waiting period, paying back taxes, passing a criminal background check, and learning English. The poll did note that polls describing in detail the requirements for becoming a citizen gained far more Republican support than polls that either did not mention requirements or did not describe them in detail.
Another inter-party issue with the current proposed reforms is doubt within the Republican Party as to whether or not the current administration will enforce the new immigration laws if they are passed. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart stated in a phone interview that, “Nobody, even those who want to get this done, trusts the President.” This is because one of the most notable immigration-based actions of President Obama has been his halting of the deportation of young undocumented immigrants who would qualify for legalization measures. This action was not approved by Congress prior to the president acting on it. Because of this, the new immigration plan asks for “specific enforcement triggers” to be in place before immigrants can begin the track to legalization – triggers that the Democratic Party fear will be too harsh.
However, Boehner’s plan may have bridged enough gaps to get the Democrats to consider it. When asked about the GOP plan, White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough said that they “feel pretty good about it.” He then went on to say that “we feel pretty good that we’ll get this done this year.”
Many believe that the Republican’s struggle to put forth an immigration reform proposal until this point has greatly harmed the party. Jeb Bush referred to it as a “gateway issue,” which could attract Hispanic and Asian voters, and claimed that a lack of support from the Hispanic voting bloc is was a large factor in the Democratic victory in the last presidential election. Many believe an immigration reform proposal could make or break the Republican chances in the next election.
Mitt Romney on Immigration
Republican Mitt Romney stands by the value that immigration is a useful thing, when done legally. “I am a great proponent of legal immigration… Many of you are living proof of the unique strength of America that is constantly renewed by new Americans. The promise of America has brought some of the world’s best and brightest to our shores.” Romney believes that state and federal forces should work together to enforce immigration laws, allowing the entire process to flow more smoothly. He adamantly believes in an employment verification system, and in stricter border patrols, and as governor he vetoed the approval of illegal immigrants for in-state tuition rates, showing his disapproval of any amnesty-type action in relation to illegal immigrants. It has been speculated by many that Romney’s, and the Republican Party’s as a whole, view of a strictly no-amnesty policy harmed him greatly in the 2012 election. Considering that President Obama carried 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in said election, this is probably correct.
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Republican Views on Immigration – RepublicanViews.org
- Republican Party on Immigration – On The Issues
- Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Standards for Immigration Reform – Speaker John Boehner
- House leaders sell immigration blueprint – Politico
- The GOP’s immigration conundrum – The Washington Post
- Top Republicans support immigration reform, but stress border security must come first – Fox News
- Taking A Closer Look At Boehner’s Immigration Plan
- Republican Views on Illegal Immigration
- Democratic View on Immigration
- Donald Trump On Immigration
- Republican Views on a Border Wall
- Rand Paul On The Issues
- What Is A Republican? Republican Definition
- Ted Cruz On The Issues
- Democratic Party Beliefs
- Chris Christie On The Issues