Greg Sargent is all excited about what he views as moderating opinions of Republican presidential aspirants on immigration. Or maybe not excited, but at least intrigued, as he writes
Bush’s suggestion today that he supports legalization — combined with his reflexive nodding along as Hannity demanded the border be secured first — puts him in this same vague space. Marco Rubio, who previously supported the Senate bill, has also reverted to this same place. Obviously CPAC was not the place to roll out detailed policy proposals, and it’s way too early in the process to expect specifics. But one surprise about the 2016 GOP field has been that, unlike many House Republicans, most of the contenders actually do appear open to supporting some form of legalization or other.
"Some form of legalization or other," Chris Christie has avoided answering questions about immigration and John Kasich seems confused. But when you cut through the confusing statements of Repub hopefuls, this is what those contenders say about immigration, as culled from the National Journal and other sources:
- Rand Paul: "assimilation" and normalization after ensuring border security;
- Ted Cruz: no citizenship but perhaps "a path to legal status"
- John Ellis Bush: "Let’s do it. Let’s do it, man. Let’s control the border. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what a great nation has to do.”)
-Marco Rubio: securing the border first is "the only way forward"
-Bobby Jindal: President Obama "just needs to man up and secure our border.”
-Ben Carson: "Whoever wins in 2016....should make it their goal to seal that border within a year" (great surgeon, awful grammarian)
-Scott Walker: "First and foremost, you've got to secure that border or none of these plans make any sense."
- Rick Perry: according to a spokesperson, "believes we must secure the border first before addressing immigration reform. After the border is secure, we can have a conversation.."
-Mike Huckabee: "....immigration reform should start with repealing Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders and securing our border
-Rick Santorum: is "a strident opponent of a general pathway to citizenship"
-Carly Fiorina: legalization but not "full citizenship" (as National Journal put it)
-Lindsay Graham: "a pathway to citizenship after we secure our borders"
"Secure the borders first" is their lifeline and none will endorse citizenship. Walker, as close as there is to a Repub frontrunner at present, was asked Sunday about a path to citizenship and replied "I believe there’s a way you can do that. First and foremost, you have to secure that border, or none of these plans make any sense." (Videos below are from a month ago.) Pleased, Sargent tweeted "key to Walker's immigration comments: He said 'there's a way' to get to legalization, if border secured first."
"Nearly all of the Republicans talk like that," Steve M. recognizes,
because Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush weren't immigration hardliners, because many of their big donors aren't immigration hardliners, and because a lot of them tried to win a bit of Hispanic support in past elections. But if we elect a Republican president next year, that president will be dealing with anti-immigration zealots in his own party just as Bush did during his presidency, and just as John Boehner is doing now.
"If border secured first," Walker cautions, because as he and his fellow Repubs realize the border simply will not be secured- ever. If it is- and that's highly unlikely- it would be in some far off future, with many circumstances intervening. By that time, no one would hold any Repub to his/her vague promise to do something or other about what no politician seriously believes ever will happen. And Laura Ingraham aside, most Republicans have no interest in cutting off the supply of cheap labor, while Democrats will not block blocking immigration from south of the Texas border.
Greg Sargent is thrilled a likely viable presidential candidate has suggested a way to get to legalization. Even he is not focused on citizenship because, well... he must have some reason.