We know that Republicans tried to distance themselves from the Bush administration and that Democrats tried to pin them to it. But the WSJ offers 'case studies' of immigration reformists who lost last Tuesday. We can offer open border losers tit-for-tat, but why not look at what the challenging Democratic victors and Republicans who faced tough challenges but retained their seats had to say on the immigration issue (I excerpted what the candidates had in bold or in quotes, and failing those, the first paragraph or first couple of sentences in the case of single-sentence paragraphs under "Immigration" or something similar to that)?
Senate Democratic Victors
Claire McCaskill, Missouri: "The President, while giving lip service to the immigration issue, has looked the other way while our border has become Swiss cheese and employers hiring illegal immigrants have gotten a free pass. We need a Senator who will hold the Bush Administration accountable for its failure to prioritize border security and for giving amnesty to employers who violate the current law with no fear of the consequences."
Jon Tester, Montana: "Our first priority must be to secure ports and borders to keep out terror threats, illegal drugs and illegal immigrants. Jon Tester opposes amnesty for those who are here illegally. People who want to come to America should follow the rules — and we should enforce them. There should be no cuts in line. Moreover, hiring illegal aliens is no joking matter. Tester believes we need to enforce the law on employers who hire illegal immigrants no matter who they are. It’s not just a matter of fairness — it’s a question of national security."
Bob Casey, Virginia: "The immigration debate is divided into three separate issues. How can we secure our border? What should we do about the 11 million undocumented workers? And, lastly there is the guest worker question. It is necessary to separate out the 3 issues. The primary concern must be securing the border. Immediate action is needed to stem the flow of illegal border crossings. Approaching the issue using an omnibus bill that attempts to solve all three issues simultaneously creates a political stalemate that delays the border security solution. There is a consensus that our border security must be improved and we should act on that consensus as soon as possible. Once the border is secure we can develop a fair solution to other immigration issues."
Senate Republican Victors
John Kyl, Arizona: "The security of the United States and its citizens should be the first and foremost consideration in formulating border and immigration policies. Before the September 11 attacks, some people believed that it was not necessary to either effectively control our borders or collect important information about foreign visitors and other immigrants welcomed into our country. September 11 demonstrated the flaw in that thinking: Knowing whether terrorists are trying to enter the country, and whether visitors abide by their visas and respect our laws, are legitimate issues to be addressed in counterterrorism and immigration policies."
Bob Corker, Tennessee: "We must effectively secure our border as the first step in dealing with illegal immigration. That will require additional border patrols and more surveillance equipment and physical barriers in those places with high traffic. It is essential to our national security to maintain control of our borders. I do not support amnesty. Illegal immigrants must return home before they can be considered for re-entry as legal workers."
Harry Mitchell, (D) Arizona: "Every sovereign nation has a responsibility to secure its border. In Congress, I'll make it a top priority to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and stop illegal immigration. I'll deliver results, not rhetoric, and will work with both Republicans and Democrats to get the job done. This includes both securing our border and offering realistic solutions for the immigration problem our country faces."
Gabrielle Giffords, (D) Arizona: "Arizona has paid a heavy price for Washington’s failures in immigration policy. For too long, the federal government has failed to secure our borders. Congress has refused to act in the face of this growing crisis. Our current Border Security policies are not working despite the fact that we have quadrupled the number troops on our border over the last 15 years. And Arizona is bearing the brunt of it, shouldering enormous costs for human services and law enforcement."
John Doolittle, (R) California: "The problem of illegal immigration continues to grow in California, and we must make reforms to curb future illegal immigration into the state. Irrespective of ancestry, an immigrant illegally entering the United States has broken the law. Congress must enact provisions to heighten enforcement of our borders and eliminate the social welfare benefits that attract illegal immigrants to our country. As a member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, I am working with my colleagues to formulate legislation to improve our nation's immigration policies."
Jerry McNerney, (D) California: "The problem with our immigration policy is that the Federal government doesn't have one. For too long our government has failed to secure our borders, allowing easy access for illegal immigration, and having little to no enforcement at the workplace. No wonder people are frustrated and demanding action."
Brian Bilbray, (R) California: "For the last 3 years as a Co-Chairman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, America's preeminent illegal immigration reform advocate, I have lobbied for many essential reforms in our immigration laws to carry on the work that I began when the voters of San Diego County sent me to Congress in 1995."
Marilyn Musgrave, (R) Colorado: "Congresswoman Musgrave knows illegal immigration is a major issue facing Colorado. Immigration reform is a top priority for her. She is working hard to improve border security and stop the waves of illegal immigrants who pose a danger to our national security, health care systems, and economy."
Ed Perlmutter, (D) Colorado: "After the 9/11 attacks it has become clear to all of us that we have to do more to increase our border and ports-of-entry security. The Bush Administration and a Rubber-stamp Republican Congress largely ignored this issue for years and only recently became interested in doing something. Until this year the Bush Administration cut back on enforcement efforts and the Republican Congress has even failed to fund programs necessary to screen cargo containers and other entry points into our country."
Christopher Shays, (D) Conneticut: "I support increasing legal immigration, while vigorously reducing illegal immigration. The first responsibility of a nation is to protect its borders. As a nation of laws, we must defend our borders and also enforce all our immigration, employment and tax laws."
Vern Buchanan, (R) Florida: "Experts say terrorists are operating in America's backyard. With 850,000 immigrants crossing our borders illegally every year , we don't know how many pose a threat to our country. We do know that many of them join dangerous gangs, such as the notorious MS-13 gang, which is responsible for violence across our country. And we know that some are terrorists."
John Barrow, (D) Georgia: "In the past 20 years, more than 11 million illegal immigrants have crossed into the United States – more people than the entire population of the State of Georgia. And the number keeps rising. With more than half a million illegal immigrants coming into this country each year, Congressman Barrow believes America can’t afford to ignore the illegal immigration crisis that’s overwhelming many of our communities."
Bill Sali, (R) Idaho: "President Ronald Reagan was right when he said, The simple truth is that we ve lost control of our borders and no nation can do that and survive. Securing our borders is a matter of national security, personal security and financial security. We cannot claim to be serious about the war on terror or say that we support our troops when terrorists, in many areas, can simply walk across our borders. While employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants should be prosecuted, the fact remains that terrorists are not coming here looking for jobs. While illegal immigrants are clearly causing serious financial pressure on our schools, courts and health care systems, the terrorists are not coming here for education or health care. Something is terribly wrong when we send our military to secure Iraq s border with Syria while at the same time refusing to secure the borders of this country. Congress must take immediate action to secure our borders."
Peter Roskam, (R) Illinois: "We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. We must secure our borders and oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants. I believe that efforts to secure our border are a vital first step to dealing with today's immigration problem."
Joe Donnelly, (D) Indiana: "I do not support amnesty. Border security is crucial to solving the immigration problem and is a serious national security concern. I support more border agents, increased funding for surveillance and fencing that will prevent immigrants from illegally entering our country. I also support enforcing employment law which this administration has failed to do. For too long, this Congress has talked about immigration and failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform. That’s why we need change in Washington."
Brad Ellsworth, (D) Indiana: "We face a national crisis when it comes to illegal immigration. The honest truth is that part of it is our own making. When we capture illegals here in Vanderburgh County, my deputies call INS and INS tells them there’s no place to put them. That’s not right. It’s also not right when an Indiana employer passes over an American for a job only because an illegal worker is cheaper. We need to tighten our borders, enforce the laws we have, and punish employers who break them. This is about economic security as much as it is national security."
Nancy Boyda, (D) Kansas: "For years, illegal immigration has gone virtually unchecked. Congress must take steps to regain control of America's borders. First, we must immediately increase funding for border enforcement. Then, we should confront the root cause of most illegal border crossings: the promise of jobs for undocumented immigrants."
John Yarmuth, (D) Kentucky: "I believe we are a nation of laws and we need to enforce our current immigration laws. We must strictly enforce laws against the employment of illegal immigrants by prosecuting companies that knowingly hire non-citizens without work visas. We must also do all we can to secure our borders to stop the influx of more illegal immigrants and protect our country from terrorists."
Tim Walberg, (R) Michigan: "Tim Walberg believes the government has a duty to secure our borders. For our national security and sovereignty, we must demand people sign the guest book and enter our nation legally. America welcomes people from around the world to come here to work, speak English, realize their dreams, and become American."
Joe Knollenberg, (R) Michigan: "As you may know, there are currently between 8 and 12 million illegal, undocumented workers in our country. This situation is not acceptable and must be addressed. On January 7, 2004, President Bush outlined an approach to addressing this problem, including the establishment of a new temporary worker immigration program. This speech included broad outlines of how such a program could be administered."
Tim Walz, (D) Minnesota: "Tim Walz believes immigration reform is a serious issue that deserves an ethical, economically sound solution. Walz supports enforcing employer labor laws to the fullest extent, using advanced technology to monitor the border, and increasing the number of professional border patrol agents. He also supports a path to citizenship for undocumented workers that requires them to return to their country of origin in order to begin the citizenship process. It is difficult but not impossible to reconcile a humanitarian response with one that ensures the security of American citizens."
Dean Heller, (R) Nevada: "Dean Heller opposes amnesty for those that enter America illegally. Immigrants that wish to become citizens must follow our laws. In Congress, Heller will support increased efforts to defend America’s borders and protect us from anyone that wants to do harm to Americans. Heller will defend our freedom, and our way of life in Nevada."
Paul Hodes, (D) New Hampshire: "Our immigration policy must be tough, fair and practical. The United States must put to work the reforms of the 9/11 Commission immediately, particularly port and border security. We need to beef up the border patrol, work to secure our borders and enforce existing laws, particularly with respect to employers who hire illegal immigrants. We must raise our minimum wage so that Americans will be readier to take the jobs now being done by undocumented workers. The United States should press Mexico diplomatically to help solve illegal immigration and assist Mexico in reform so that Mexican workers can earn a living wage in their own country. Ultimately, the issue of illegal immigration is a jobs and fairness issue. It is impractical to criminalize and seek to deport 12 million illegal immigrants but they must not be made scapegoats for this Administration's failure to enforce our laws."
Mike Ferguson, (R) New Jersey: "Defending America also means improving border security. Congressman Ferguson voted to increase manpower, upgrade technology and improve physical barriers along the U.S. borders. He voted to secure operational control of our borders, both north and south, by adding 1,000 new border inspectors with 700 miles of fencing, ending the "catch and release" policy, stopping employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and cracking down on alien smuggling."
Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) New York: "I support protecting our borders, but our solution must include more measures to ensure employer enforcement with regards to illegal immigration, building a wall or a fence alone is simply not enough. In conjunction with solutions taken on the ground at our borders, we must enforce the employment laws that are currently being ignored by companies who profit from hiring illegal immigrants. The urgency of dealing with our borders should not be held hostage by election year legislation and this summer's field hearings; securing our borders must be a national security priority."
Randy Kuhl, (R) New York: "One of the first jobs we must do is secure our northern and southern borders. There is tremendous risk in allowing undocumented people to enter our country and roam without fear of prosecution."
Heath Shuler, (D) North Carolina: "The United States is a nation built of immigrants, seeking opportunity and freedom. Throughout our history, immigrants have contributed to the greatness of our nation by enriching our culture, traditions and diversity. Hard-working immigrants help our economy grow by starting businesses, creating jobs and providing an essential workforce. The United States benefits from legal immigration, and we should continue to welcome newcomers to our great nation. However, our current system of immigration is broken. Illegal and undocumented immigrants are flooding into our country in massive numbers. The lure of a better life in the United States has always been strong, in spite of the risks associated with illegal immigration. The economic boom of the 1990’s exacerbated this problem, resulting in increased levels of illegal immigration. Current estimates suggest that there are approximately 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States."
Steve Chabot, (R) Ohio: "Steve Chabot believes that ending illegal immigration should be a top priority for our nation and he has strongly supported efforts to toughen our border security. Our porous borders cost American taxpayers billions of dollars every year and pose a real security threat."
Jean Schmidt, (R) Ohio: "Rep. Jean Schmidt’s voting record supported the interests of the Americans For Better Immigration 100% of the time in 2003-2006 earning her an A- Grade (updated as of Aug. 6, 2006 grade) Americans for Better Immigration (ABI) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, which lobbies Congress for reductions in immigration numbers. Rep. Schmidt is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4313 “True Enforcement and Border Security Act of 2005”. H.R. 4313 is the most comprehensive immigration law enforcement bill ever introduced."
Jason Altmire, (D) Pennsylvania: "America must do a better job of securing its borders. In Congress, Jason Altmire will work to tighten border security and crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. He will fight any attempt to provide taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants and vote against any plan that rewards lawbreakers by moving illegal immigrants to the head of the line of those seeking American citizenship. Jason Altmire also endorses English as the official language of the United States."
Patrick Murphy, (D) Pennsylvania: "Patrick Murphy does not believe in amnesty. He does not believe that illegal immigrants should be offered benefits that are awarded to hardworking American citizens such as health insurance or Social Security. Patrick Murphy believes that we should be cracking down on employers who have been flaunting the law to make a quick buck. We need to build a fence to monitor who is coming into and leaving our country. Most importantly, we need new leaders who will protect American jobs for American citizens. At a time when our country is at war, we need to know who is coming in to and leaving our country."
Chris Carney, (D) Pennsylvania: "We need to secure our borders. In the war on terror, border security is national security, and Congress has been ignoring the problem for years. In the last year, we all saw the 2400-foot tunnel under our border with Mexico. Congress has abdicated its duty to protect our borders."
Henry Bonilla, (R) Texas: "'The Texas/Mexico border is a hot-bed for illegal immigration. Ignoring the problem is ignoring the war against terrorism,' said Congressman Henry Bonilla. Border Patrol - Henry has a long record of supporting legislation that recognizes the importance of the Border Patrol as the nation's first line of defense in homeland security. Using his senior role on the Appropriations Committee, Bonilla has secured millions of dollars for Border Patrol staff, equipment and check-point improvements. Bonilla is co-chair of the Congressional Border Caucus and Vice Chair of the U.S. / Mexico Congressional Caucus. He represents more than 700 miles of the Texas/Mexico border."
Thelma Drake, (R) Virginia: "I am proud to report that the House of Representatives has already passed border security legislation. Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, which was passed in the House by a vote of 239-182 on December 16, 2005. H.R. 4437 provides for strict immigration regulations and strengthens our borders. I was proud to support this legislation because I believe it provides a solid foundation for comprehensive border security and immigration reform."
Dave Reichart, (R) Washington: "Congressman Reichert believes we need to strengthen our borders and protect this nation. There must be penalties for violating American immigration laws and for those who employ illegal immigrants. We must encourage undocumented individuals to “get right” with our government and register. This will allow us to focus valuable resources on those we know to be a threat and in this country with the intent to harm, rather than individuals who are here to better their lives and that of their families."
Barbara Cubin, (R) Wisconsin: "On September 11th the terrorists used our own flawed immigration laws against us to help them murder thousands of American citizens. The American people will never be truly safe until we get serious about border security."
If you just skimmed the verbiage, it should have been enough to get a flavor for how candidates from both parties approached the immigration issue. A few didn't highlight it, but most did. Not a word about xenophobia, nativism, or any of the other typical ad hominem habitually substituted by the open borders crowd in place of the empirical logic that is so saliently lacking. Nothing about needing to fill "jobs Americans won't do"--only Paul Hodes, (D) New Hampshire, came close, and he advocated the raising of the minimum wage to protect Americans from having their wages undercut by immigrants.
Instead, lots of tough talk about security and tough employer punitions. Many made no mention of a guest worker program, and those that did overwhelmingly purported to be putting off discussion on it until after security questions were settled. No one running in the House was attacked for his or her support for the Sensenbrenner bill, but more than a couple of incumbents proudly broadcast that they'd voted for it.
The disconnect between elites and the population on the issue is enormous. Thankfully, most of the Democratic victories were of moderates in center-right districts. All of these new House members will go through all of this in a couple of years. If they're actions match their election rhetoric, things won't be as dismal as they'd seemed last week.
(Politics and Religion)