While the first two Republican debates showed that the large field of GOP Hopefuls are mostly split on the issue of immigration, the Democratic Hopefuls share similar positions during the Party’s first debate on Tuesday evening. There was agreement among the five Hopefuls on the issues of amnesty, in-state tuition, and eligibility for taxpayer funded health care, and no mention of protecting American workers from new massive waves of foreign workers.
There were three major takeaways from Tuesday’s debate. First, all five Hopefuls agree that 11 million illegal aliens should receive legal status and work permits to compete with American workers before any enforcement provisions are implemented. Second, it remains unclear if any of the Democratic Hopefuls would even support enforcement provisions with the possible exception of former Virginia Senator Jim Webb. Third, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley stood out as the Hopeful that would give the most to illegal aliens.
Tens of millions of people on the move around the world heard a debate of one of America's major parties in which the message was repeated over and over that if they come to America illegally they will be welcomed, celebrated, made citizens and promised all kinds of special health care and college education possibilities. Democrats used to say that illegal immigration had to end after the next amnesty. Not a word tonight about the legitimacy of immigration laws in protecting the workers, the wages and the quality of life of the American people. Blue-collar Americans had to be weeping at what has become of the Party of Labor.
-- NumbersUSA President & Founder Roy Beck
Gov. O'Malley was the first to mention immigration when he touted the passage of Maryland's DREAM Act through voter referendum during his tenure. The measure offers in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens who graduate from Maryland high schools. CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper noted that Sen. Bernie Sanders also supports in-state tuition for illegal aliens and asked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if she shared the same opinion.
My plan would support any state that takes that position, and would work with those states and encourage more states to do the same thing.
If their states agree, then we want more states to do the same thing.
-- Sec. Clinton
In-state tuition wasn't the only reward for illegal aliens that the Democratic Hopefuls want taxpayers to fund. Gov. O'Malley wants to also give away subsidies on the health care exchange; a position that Sec. Clinton stopped short of supporting.
I want to open up the opportunity for immigrants to be able to buy in to the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. I think to go beyond that, as I understand what Governor O'Malley has recommended, so that they would get the same subsidies . . .
. . . I think that is -- it raises so many issues. It would be very difficult to administer, it needs to be part of a comprehensive immigration reform, when we finally do get to it.
-- Sec. Clinton
Sen. Webb was more ambiguous in his answer, saying that he "wouldn't have a problem" with illegal aliens accessing the health care exchanges, but didn't say whether or not he thought they should be eligible for the subsidies. He did use the opportunity, however, to make the night's only reference to reducing illegal immigration.
No country has -- is a country without defining its borders. We need to resolve this issue. I actually introduced an amendment in the 2007 immigration bill.
-- Sen. Webb
Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee didn't have a chance to speak during the limited immigration portion of the debate, and Sen. Sanders only had one chance when he was asked by CNN Espanol anchor Juan Carlos Lopez about his opposition to the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill in 2007.
I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they're working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they're thrown out of the country. I was not the only progressive to vote against that legislation for that reason.
-- Sen. Sanders
No one cared to mention that Sen. Sanders supported the Gang of Eight's amnesty bill in 2013 that would have issued four-times more guest worker visas than the McCain-Kennedy bill in 2007.
On our Worker Protection Immigration Grade Cards, four of the five Hopefuls who participated in last night's debate have Fs and none of them said anything that would change their ratings. Sen. Webb is slightly better with a D+, and again, was the only one of the five to mention enforcement.
Despite a lot of other talk throughout the debate about income disparity and a struggling middle class, not one candidate indicated that they would remove the pressures placed on the middle class by high immigration levels.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Feb 19th 2016 @ 10:25am EST