Trump plan splinters GOP field
Donald Trump’s immigration plan is splitting the packed GOP presidential field, rekindling debate on an issue that has long vexed the Republican Party.
The businessman, who is leading the GOP field in most polls, unveiled his proposal earlier this week. Trump is calling for an end to birthright citizenship — a move that would arguably require an amendment to the Constitution — and the construction of a wall across the U.S. southern border, with Mexico picking up the tab.
A handful of Trump’s 2016 competitors quickly dismissed the plan as unworkable. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said it isn’t “grounded in reality,” while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called it “absolute gibberish.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) suggested it wouldn’t survive Congress.
Others note that they’ve previously embraced the issue, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) saying that much of Trump’s plan was “contained within legislation that I filed years ago.”
Here’s where the Republican presidential field stands on the plan:
Jeb Bush: The ex-Florida governor quickly dismissed Trump’s plan suggesting that it wasn’t “grounded in reality.”
“There are like 10 things I would change in the Constitution with a magic wand,” Bush told The Washington Post during a campaign stop in South Carolina. “But in the interim, we’ve got to control the border, we’ve got to enforce the rule of law, we’ve got to deal with extended stays on legal visas, we’ve got to have an e-Verify system that’s verifiable, we’ve got to deal with sanctuary cities, we’ve got to forward-lean on the border.”
Bush posted his own plan on immigration ahead of the first Republican presidential debate earlier this month. That proposal includes a “rigorous path to earned legal status,” which earned the former governor quick conservative ire.
Separately, Bush defended birthright citizenship, telling CBS News’s Major Garrett that “we ought to fix the problem rather than take away rights that are constitutionally in doubt.”
Ben Carson: Carson, who is seeing a bump in the polls, weighed in on elements of Trump’s proposals during campaign stop in Phoenix, without specifically mentioning his Republican rival.
“What I have said consistently is that we need seal our borders,” he said. “We can use a whole series of things to do that, not just fences and walls, but electronic surveillance and drones.”
Carson added that it should be illegal to employ an undocumented immigrant and that undocumented immigrants who are here should be given the opportunity to become “guest workers,” but not citizens.
During a separate stop, he said that he supports ending birthright citizenship, which he called “stupid.”
“For a woman to be pregnant and say, ‘I’m going to go to the United States and have my baby there so that I can have an anchor’ is stupid,” Carson said, according to a local TV station in Phoenix. “We can keep families together. If they came here and did that, we can still keep them together by packaging them up and sending them back.”
Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor dismissed Trump’s proposal as “nothing new.”
“He’s gonna build a wall, get the Mexicans to pay for. I mean, I think — listen, we have a huge problem at our border, we need to address it, but it can’t be addressed just for that wall. That’s not gonna fix the problem,” Christie said during an interview on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.” “I’ve never seen a wall that really determined human beings can’t get over, under, around.”
He argued that an immigration proposal also has to tackle employers who hire undocumented immigrants and that candidates should focus on “an entire reform package.”
Ted Cruz: The firebrand senator, and perhaps Trump’s closest ally in the Republican field, praised the plan, saying that it is “forcing the mainstream media to talk about issues they don’t want to talk about.”
But Cruz also suggested the proposal is similar to ideas he’s offered in the Senate for years.
“Virtually every element in the proposal he submitted is contained in legislation that I filed years ago,” he said during an interview with the “Michael Medved Show,” adding that he “led the fight against amnesty” in the Senate.
Cruz added that he “absolutely” supports changing the 14th Amendment, saying that “we should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally.”
Carly Fiorina: The former Hewlett-Packard CEO is walking the line on Trump’s proposal, saying that “parts of it make sense.”
“It makes sense to deport illegals who have committed crimes, it makes sense to have an employer verification system that actually works and that is mandatory,” she told ABC News. “It makes sense to hold sanctuary cities accountable.”
Fiorina touted her focus on immigration, saying that she’s been “talking about all of these things for a long time. … We know what we need to do. It’s about somebody who can get it done.”
Fiorina suggested to NBC News that ending birthright citizenship would be difficult and that “we should put all of our energies, all of our political will into finally getting the border secured and fixing the legal immigration.”
Jim Gilmore: The former Virginia governor is taking direct shots at Trump’s proposal.
Gilmore said that Trump’s plan “makes it pretty clear that Trump has been out in the Iowa sun too long without his hat,” according to the Washington Examiner.
Lindsey Graham: The South Carolina senator escalated his ongoing rhetorical battle with Trump, calling the businessman’s plan “absolute gibberish.”
“It is unworkable. Mitt Romney said his biggest mistake as a candidate for president was embracing self-deportation,” Graham told CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “That hurt our party. Donald Trump’s plan is forced deportation. It’s not going to work; it is unworkable.”
But Graham, considered more moderate than some of his Republican colleagues on immigration, said that he could support Trump on changing the 14th Amendment to revoke birthright citizenship.
“I think it’s a bad practice to give citizenship based on birth,” he added. “We have evidence of people buying tourist visas for the express purpose of coming over here and having a child. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor said he hadn’t given much thought to Trump’s proposal and is instead focusing on his own push for strengthened border security and a crackdown on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.
Huckabee did push pack against Trump’s call to deport all undocumented immigrants.
“I don’t see how that’s realistic. I’m not sure that that’s necessary. I don’t think we ought to have amnesty. I don’t know of any of the Republican candidates who advocate open amnesty,” he said during an interview with CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “But there’s got to be first some confidence that we’re controlling our borders, which there isn’t any confidence.”
He added that changing the 14th Amendment would “require a little bit more discussion. … The biggest issue is not changing so much how we interpret the 14th Amendment. It is making sure that we start enforcing our own laws.”
Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana governor quickly aligned himself with Trump, saying, “We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.”
Jindal also said last week that the United States needs to crackdown on sanctuary cities, those that don’t comply with federal immigration law and “hyphenated Americans.”
“We’re all Americans,” he told Newsmax. “People want to come to our country, they should come legally. They should learn English, they should adopt our values and when they get here they should roll up their sleeves and get to work.”
John Kasich: The Ohio governor declined to weigh in on Trump’s immigration plan during a campaign stop in Iowa, telling reporters “I have my own plan. I don’t talk about other plans.”
Earlier this week, he backed building a wall to secure the border, though he didn’t specify who should pay for it.
“Finish the wall. And make it clear. Anybody that comes over that wall once we have done it, you’re going back,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And then the 12 million that are here, legalize them, but make sure we don’t have anybody — any of the criminal element here and have a guest-worker program. I think the country can unite around that.”
Kasich, separately, is reversing his support for ending birthright citizenship, a move that puts him at odds with Trump. He told CNN’s “The Lead” last week that “I think we need to get over that. … Let these people who are born here be citizens and that’s the end of it.”
George Pataki: The former governor of New York is boiling Trump’s plan down to “simplistic sound bites” meant to appease voters.
“When you think about [it], Mexico is not going to pay to build the wall. Yes, we have to secure the border — but we’re not going to send millions and millions of people going around America, rounding them up, putting them on buses, and sending them back somewhere,” he told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday.
Separately, he told MSNBC, “I don’t support amending the Constitution to kick out kids who were born here.”
Rand Paul: Paul argued that the proposal is both impractical and contradicts Trump’s previous positions.
“His immigration policy, that seems to have won him a lot of attention, is to send 11 million people to Mexico,” Paul told the Independent Journal Review. “How is he going to practically do that? If he is going to take the time to do that then why is he all of the sudden going to re-admit them all?
“Someone should ask him some practical questions about … why his policies are the opposite of what they were just a few years ago,” he added.
Paul previously teamed up with Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) on a resolution to end birthright citizenship.
“Citizenship is a privilege, and only those who respect our immigration laws should be allowed to enjoy its benefits,” Paul said in a statement at the time.
Rick Perry: The former Texas governor has avoided directly commenting on Trump’s proposal, telling Fox News that he hasn’t “looked at all of his plan.”
Instead, Perry is focusing on border security, saying, “What will work is putting the personnel in the right places on the border. … When I’m the president of the United States, I can promise you one thing. The will to secure the border will reside in the Oval Office every day.”
Perry suggested that the media and candidates were distracted with “side issues,” including what to do with the undocumented immigrants currently in the country or whether the 14th Amendment should be changed.
Marco Rubio: The Florida Republican brushed off Trump’s proposal, suggesting that it wouldn’t’ survive Congress.
“I haven’t read his plan. From what I’ve seen from press reports, there are a couple of ideas he shares with multiple people,” the senator told reporters after a speech in Iowa on Tuesday. “But most are really not something that I think has a chance to pass through Congress.”
Rubio has drawn conservative blowback over his role in the “Gang of Eight” and its 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, which included a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants. Trump, in his proposal, targets the legislation, referring to it as the “[Democratic Sen. Charles] Schumer-Rubio immigration bill.”
He added that he didn’t back Trump’s call to revoke birthright citizenship, but he is “open to doing things that prevent people who deliberately come to the U.S. for purposes of taking advantage of the 14th Amendment.”
Rick Santorum: A representative for the former Pennsylvania senator declined to comment on Trump’s proposal, noting that Santorum will outline his immigration proposal in Washington on Thursday.
But he’s tried to use the issue to break out of the crowded Republican field, saying earlier this month that as voters start to “drill down, they’re realizing Rick Santorum has the policy that is the most pro-worker immigration.”
“Other candidates, including Donald Trump, don’t have very strong positions on immigration,” he told CNN’s New Day last week. “The rhetoric is tough, but if you look at their plans, we’re the only one rated by the immigration groups with an A rating.”
Scott Walker: The Wisconsin governor quickly associated himself with Trump’s proposal, saying that while he hasn’t read it, “the things I’ve heard are very similar to the things I’ve mentioned.”
“In fact earlier in the year I was on ‘Fox News Sunday’ and laid out what I thought we should do which is secure the border, which means build the wall, have the technology, have the personnel to make sure it’s safe and secure,” Walker said during an interview with Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.’” “Enforce the law, which I’ve said for some time means enforcing the law, making sure we don’t have sanctuary cities and that people are here legally. And I’ve said no amnesty.”
This story was updated at 1:24 p.m.
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