Republicans in Tight House Races Reject Trump's Immigration Stance

Donald Trump speaks with U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, right, after a rally in San Diego on May 276. David Bier writes that in the closest 40 House races, such as Issa's in Orange County, a majority of Republican members back legalization for immigrants without documentation. Jonathan Ernst/reuters

This article first appeared on the Cato Institute site.

A large number of Republican candidates are openly opposing Donald Trump's immigration position.

As I've noted before, 10 of the 11 GOP Senate candidates have campaigned on pro-immigration platforms. In the closest 40 House races according to Cook Political Report's ratings, a majority of Republicans have already expressed openness to a pathway to legalization for immigrants without documentation.

The large number of supporters of a compassionate immigration policy could be seen as surprising not only because the Republican presidential nominee has strongly opposed this approach but also because only six of the districts are currently held by Democrats who back a legalization measure.

However, it is important to note that these members are not out of step with their Republican constituents, who, polls show nationally and on a state-by-state basis, support allowing immigrants without documentation to stay.

Because some members were not directly asked about their views on legalization, support could be even greater. But here are the 21 members in tight races who have taken humane, pro-immigration positions:

1. Don Young (Arkansas, at-large): "We want our country's 11 million undocumented individuals to be welcomed and to have a place to belong—free of fear…. Immigrants have always recharged our country and have been reliable sources of economic growth, cultural diversity and innovation…. Like our colleagues drafting the bill, we believe this legislation should…provide a clear and responsible path to citizenship for those already here."

2. Scott Jones (California, 7th District): "For those folks who are here illegally, I would advocate, as I have always advocated, a pathway to legal status for each and every one of them if they can pass a background check."

3. Jeff Denham (California, 10th): "I believe our immigration system is broken and in need of real and effective reform. I support providing an earned path to citizenship for those who want it…. Reform will ensure that all undocumented immigrants are added to the tax rolls, ensuring that everyone pays their fair share."

4. David Valadao (California, 21th): "Immigration reform is something I'm still very supportive of and continue to work on behind the scenes…. Every bill that I've been a part of is about allowing immigrants who are here to go through a process to become legal.… For the people who are working hard in the fields, in the restaurant industry, in the service industry, I mean, we've got to come up with a system that addresses the 11 million who are here. You have to have a process that makes sure that you have guest worker programs that work, visa programs that work."

5. Darrell Issa (California, 49th): "Beyond border security, any reform package must make an immediate determination of who stays and who goes, based on our national interests. Those who demonstrate the ability to contribute to our society in a meaningful way should have a path forward to guide them, be placed at the end of the legal-immigration line, meet the strict standards established and face a rigorous but fair application process. Those who are migrant workers should be put into a temporary guest-worker program."

6. Mike Coffman (Colorado, 6th): "Immigration reform…has to be compassionate about keeping families together…. I co-sponsored legislation this summer that would give [immigrant children of immigrants without documentation] a legal status and then a path to citizenship…. For the adults who knowingly broke the law who are here today, I think they ought to have the opportunity to come out of the shadows and have a legal status."

7. David Jolly (Fl0rida, 13th): "I support…comprehensive immigration reform that has remediation and penalties and so forth…. I don't support a pathway to citizenship for people who came here illegally. But I do support a pathway to legal status and residency."

8. Brian Mast (Florida, 18th): "I do not support a pathway to citizenship…. But I am open to a conversation of a pathway to legal work status for people who are here in the United States."

9. Carlos Curbelo (Florida, 26th): "I have been for comprehensive immigration reform.… We need to have a guest worker program.… We need to create a path to citizenship for those families who are undocumented but are contributing to our economy. A lot of people talk about the undocumented, but they don't realize that these are some of the hardest workers."

10. David Young (Iowa, 3rd): "Why are they coming in illegally? It's probably because our legal system is so messed up.… We need to put a human face on it, have some compassion…allow them to come out of the shadows and have that guest worker program where they are allowed to work, receive a paycheck, not worried about going to jail, so they can live in peace with their families.… I am not one who wants to round up and deport people."

11. Robert Dold (Illinois, 10th): "Last year, I had the honor of bringing a Round Lake Dreamer named Erika Martinez to the State of the Union address. Every day that Congress fails to act on immigration reform, families like Erika's are forced to continue living in fear of being torn apart. Although divisive, partisan rhetoric may make for better TV, today's forum is proof that there is bipartisan support to move immigration reform forward."

12. Tim Walberg (Michigan-7th): "There's a comprehensive plan that's needed…. We need to understand that without immigrants we don't have the resources for the jobs that are here."

Walberg also says there needs to be a "cooling-off" period to stop "some of this anti-immigrant, anti-refugee rhetoric that's out there…. They're in the agricultural industry and construction industry and high-tech industry. There are people that could add to this melting pot in very positive ways." He told Michigan State University's public radio station, WKAR, "Many of those people we're talking about giving a pathway to citizenship aren't necessarily asking for citizenship. Many are simply asking for a temporary work opportunity."

13. Erik Paulsen (Minnesota, 3rd): Via MPRNews: He is open to giving immigrants without documentation citizenship or permanent residence. "It's not a realistic proposition to round up 11 million people and send them out of the country," Paulsen said.

14. Don Bacon (Nebraska, 2nd): "Once we do that and employer enforcement and some other measures to secure the border, I would take a more moderate approach to handle the 12 million folks who are here…. Some people are good neighbors are doing good in their community. We ought to provide a pathway to legalization."

15. Cresent Hardy (Nevada, 2nd): Hardy said he believes most of these immigrants don't want to become citizens but want to become legal so they can work and live here without fear of deportation. "I think you give them a pathway to legal status, not necessarily to citizenship."

16. John Faso (New York, 19th): "Farm employers must also have better access to seasonal labor. I don't support citizenship for those illegally in the country; I would support legal status, however—but not citizenship—for those who have not committed crimes and are willing to pay a fine. We should emphasize immigration for those who bring specific skills beneficial to the economy."

17. John Katko (New York, 24th): "You get back to what immigration is all about. That's that big group of people who are leading law-abiding lives here, maybe even starting families here and are employed. Those individuals we have to have a discussion about. And the discussion is really going to boil down to do you create a path to citizenship for millions of people who are here illegally or do you do some sort of resident alien status for them. I'm leaning towards the latter, but I still want to discuss it more with individuals."

18. Mike Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania, 8th): "Once you secure the border, the next question is how to deal with the undocumented immigrants that are in this country, and I believe that they need to be dealt with humanely, that are becoming of American values. Immigration is not a bad thing. It's a good thing. We are a nation of immigrants. I am the grandson of Irish immigrants.... Mass deportation is a silly idea. It shouldn't even be discussed. It's not workable. It's not humane."

19. Lloyd Smucker (Pennsylvania, 16th): "If you're here, you want to work hard, provide for your family or future family and want to contribute, we should encourage that…. We are a nation of immigrants. We should encourage people who want to come here, who want to work hard, who want to give back, who want to provide for their families. That's what has made America great in the first place. We need a comprehensive immigration reform that starts with securing our borders and that provides opportunities for those who want to live the American dream…. I don't want you taking from the system. I want you to be able to get a good job. I want you to be able to pay taxes. I want you to be able to be part of society here."

20. Will Hurd (Texas, 23rd): "We need to increase access to legal immigration. We are a nation of immigrants. We have benefited from the brain drain of every other country for the last couple of decades. I want to see us continue that. But I also want to see us benefit from the hard workers drain too. If you're going to be a productive member of our society, I want to get you here as quickly as possible. I'm against giving people who broke the law a special pathway to citizenship, but I think there is a way to get them into the system…whether paying fines and back taxes, making sure that they have a job and are going to be educated."

21. Mia Love (Utah, 4th): "I am committed to immigration and legal immigration…. We have to secure the border…. We also have to track people…. It is our job to make sure that we have a front door in and we close the backdoor. In order for us to fix it and give people opportunities, whether they want to become citizens or just have legal status, we have to fix those three first…. This is an area in which we can show our compassion as Americans and fix the problem permanently…. If we fix it permanently, we would make sure that families don't have to go through the difficult situations that they are going through, that they don't know where to go right now."

David J. Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

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