Americans have mixed feelings about immigration. However, they do not think immigration is the most important problem facing the nation. In a recent poll, only 15 percent ranked immigration as one of the two top issues in the United States. However, nearly half said there were too many immigrants in the country. Nearly two-thirds said that cost of social services for immigrants is too high.
Still, nearly two-thirds believe America should accept immigrants fleeing poverty. And they do not think immigrants are taking jobs from American citizens. Nearly two-thirds favored the Dream Act, which offers legal status to some people brought to the United States illegally as children.
The survey showed a sharp partisan divide, with Republicans much more likely to call immigration a problem than Democrats or Independents.
Candidates for the Republican nomination for president are very hostile to illegal immigrants.
Michele Bachmann wants to build a fence on “every inch” of the Mexican border. She says extending benefits to illegal immigrants is “madness.” In 2010, she voted against a bill providing a path to citizenship. “I don’t agree that you would make 11 million workers legal, because that in effect is amnesty.”
Newt Gingrich says “use the National Guard to patrol “100 percent control of the border.” However, “We are not going to deport 11 million people. There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty.” He said, “I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter-century.”
Jon M. Huntsman Jr. says the idea of a fence “repulses” him, but that it is probably necessary. He favors a path to citizenship for those already here. “There’s got to be an alternative rather than sending people back. That is unrealistic.”
Ron Paul calls for recalling the military from overseas and using it to patrol the Mexican border. He says he opposes a border fence. “If you subsidize something or give people incentives, you get more of it. So if you give easy road to citizenship, you’re going to have more illegals.”
Rick Perry calls for securing the border first. But says a 30-foot wall would only improve the “35-foot ladder business.” He defends a Texas law that lets illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition to state colleges. “We have to put the boots on the ground and the aviation assets in place, and secure that border once and for all, and be committed to it.”
Mitt Romney is for a fence. He is against the Perry-approved tuition breaks for illegal immigrants in Texas. He says, “We cannot give amnesty to those who have come here illegally.” “If people who come here illegally are going to get to stay illegally for the rest of their life, that’s going to only encourage more people to come here illegally.” In previous years he has favored a path to citizenship.
Rick Santorum says the fence should be finished, but that mass deportations are not the answer. “Until we build that border, we should neither have storm troopers come in and throw people out of the country nor should we provide amnesty.”