Chris Chmielenski's picture


  by  Chris Chmielenski

The 15 GOP Hopefuls square off again tonight at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. to debate the issues currently facing the country. The immigration issue played a prominent role in the first round of debates last month, while most GOP Hopefuls prioritized American workers over illegal aliens. We'll be watching to see if the Hopefuls stick to their positions and where they stand on the Syrian Refugee crisis.

You can see where the GOP Hopefuls currently stand by visiting our Worker-Protection Immigration Grade Cards here.

You can see what Roy is saying by keeping an eye on our Twitter feed to the right.

8:12 p.m. -- Debate #2 underway! Details of the first debate below.

9:05 p.m. -- We've reached the first commercial break of the main event with still no mention of immigration. But CNN's debate format that allows candidates to respond and challenge the other candidates' responses should make for some eye-opening debate, much like that of the earlier debate.

9:10 p.m. -- I spoke too soon! TRUMP is asked by Jake Tapper about his plan to deport all illegal aliens within two years. Trump first mentions his plan to build a wall. But never addresses the question which was how much his plan would cost and how he would go about doing it.

CHRISTIE has challenged Trump's position on deportations and is asked by Tapper to respond. Christie says we need to secure our border with more than just a wall. He discusses using technology along the border and implementing a biometric entry/exit system to track foreign visitors.

CARSON also challenged Trump's plan and is asked to respond. He refers to his border visit and says that the existing fencing doesn't work, so he doesn't support one along the entire border. But he does discuss Yuma County in Arizona where they have a double fence with a patrol road running in between. Carson says until we secure the border, we can't discuss anything else.

Jake Tapper presses Carson on his opposition to deportations. Carson said no one has developed a plan to deport 11 million illegal aliens, but if they did, he would be willing to listen.

The discussion then shifts off of immigration a bit and moves to Trump's criticism of Bush's wife who was born in Mexico. During the conversation, Trump does call out Bush's "Act of Love" comment from about a year ago. He says the people who are crossing the border to do harm are not committing an "Act of Love".

CRUZ is asked about Carson's plan to give illegal aliens a 6-month period to register and pay a fine and then get a guest worker visa to work in agriculture. Carson corrects Tapper by saying that his plan would be to secure the border and turn off the magnets first before issuing any work permits.

Cruz is asked whether or not Carson's plan fits his description of amnesty. Cruz says the voters are going to consider the candidates' actions on amnesty. He said that he's the only candidate on the stage to oppose amnesty and led the fight to stop the Gang of 8 bill.

RUBIO is asked if he supports amnesty. He pivots to legal immigration and says it's not an issue he reads about in the newspaper. He says there are three immigration issues: 1) continued illegal immigration, 2) a legal system that doesn't work cause it's family based, and 3) the people living here illegally. He says must deal with all three. We must secure our border, implement an entry/exit system to track visa overstayers, and mandate E-Verify. He's the only one to mention E-Verify. He said the next step is to modernize the system, so it's merit based not family based. His comments would lead one to believe that he would end Chain Migration, but he doesn't say it. He said after making those changes, he would reasonably deal with the people here illegally.

Carson is asked whether his plan is amnesty. He says it's not because he would only allow illegal aliens to register as agricultural guest workers and they wouldn't be allowed to become U.S. citizens.

The conversation then turns to Birthright Citizenship. Tapper asks if he still supports ending it. Trump says the 14th amendment is clear and only needs an act of Congress. He uses the example to of a woman who comes across the border to have a baby that then has to be taken care of by the taxpayers. He also mentions the fact that the U.S. is one of the only countries to still grant automatic citizenship to all new borns.

FIORINA is asked about why she called Trump's position pandering. She says you can't just wave your hands and the 14th Amendment will go away. Fiorina thinks the constitution needs to be amended to end Birthright Citizenship. She then brings up San Francisco's sanctuary policies and says no one is doing anything about it.

PAUL is asked about his position on Birthright Citizenship. He says he agrees with Trump, and says there's never been a Supreme Court court case on whether or not children of illegal aliens could be citizens. Paul also mentions the "subject to the jurisdiction" phrase in the 14th amendment. Paul probably offers one of the best answers on the topic. He has cosponsored a bill to end Birthright Citizenship in the Senate.

10:24 p.m. -- Our immigration ad airs during the second commercial break. Watch it here.


6:00 p.m. -- Former Sen. Rick Santorum (A-), La. Gov. Bobby Jindal (C-), Sen. Lindsey Graham (F), and Former N.Y. Gov. George Pataki (not rated) are ready to square off in the first debate of the evening.

NOTE: Gov. Pataki is not on our grid because we have a requirement that Hopefuls are polling at 1% or more in an average of national polls. While some of the Hopefuls currently listed are below the 1% threshold, they have been above that level recently.

6:23 p.m. -- Hopefuls give their opening statements. No one mentions immigration directly, but Gov. Jindal makes a simple comparison between the U.S. and Europe, referring to the ongoing Syrian Refugee crisis.

6:27 p.m. -- Given the setting, there will be plenty of references to Pres. Ronald Reagan tonight. Reagan is best known on the immigration issue for passing the last mass amnesty bill in 1986. Attorney General under Reagan, Ed Meese has said on numerous occasions that Reagan would not sign a bill again that put amnesty ahead of enforcement.

6:28 p.m. -- Sen. Santorum was asked if GOP Hopefuls should be attacking the frontrunner Donald Trump. Santorum makes the debate's first direct mention of immigration, saying, "we have to control immigration and look after the American worker." Santorum has the highest grade (A) on our Presidential grade cards.

6:34 p.m. -- First immigration question of the night comes from CNN's Dana Bash and goes to Sen. Santorum. He's asked about Gov. Jindal's support of amnesty, and Santorum responds by saying he's the only candidate who's not in favor of eventually giving an amnesty with work permits to illegal aliens.

"This debate should not be about what we should do illegally. This debate should be about what the debate on every other policy issue in America is about -- what's in the best interest of hard working Americans. What's in the best interest of our country? ... The other side has set up the debate on immigration. Someone and their family is here illegally and what are we going to do about them. A great leader will say the objective of every law in America is to do what's in the best interest of America. And what's in the best interest of America right now is to look at wages and look at employment for wage earners."

This continues the theme that Santorum has developed his immigration plan on -- a plan that puts the interests of American workers and legal permanent residents already here first.

6:35 p.m. -- Bash gives Jindal a chance to reply, and he says he's not for amnesty and supports securing the border first and foremost.

Any talk of doing anything more -- we don't need talk of a comprehensive plan, we don't need a thousand page bill like the Gang of 8, we don't need amnesty. Everyone in D.C. talks about it. We need to get it done."

Jindal does support work permits for illegal aliens once the border is secured, which has led to his Harmful rating. Many politicians try to say that an "earned pathway to citizenship or legalization" is not amnesty, but the fact of the matter is once you give an illegal alien a work permit, you've given them what they came for, and that's amnesty.

6:36 p.m. -- Santorum is given a chance to respond and says that everyone in the field is for a position that allows illegal aliens to stay in the country.

SANTORUM: "The reason why you're seeing the angst and the anger out there is taking off is because workers know that wages are being under-minded."

Santorum then references a CIS report that found that all job growth between 2000 and 2014 went to foreign-born workers.

6:37 p.m. -- Jindal is given an opportunity to defend Santorum's charge that he supports amnesty.

JINDAL: "Secure the border. After that is done, the American people will deal with folks here illegally compassionately and pragmatically." He also says that he supports ending Sanctuary Cities and penalizing local leaders who put sanctuary policies in place. That's a policy he's discussed in the past.

6:38 p.m. -- Tapper asks Gov. Pataki if he supports ending Birthright Citizenship. Pataki calls it "a small part of a very important issue" and then goes on to list his immigration priorities: 1) secure the border, 2) stop releasing illegal-alien criminals, 3) end sanctuary cities, and 4) amnesty.

PATAKI: "We can't ignore the people who are here. What are we going to do? We're not going to send them back. We're not going to drag kids out of classrooms and send them back. We have to send a message that we are a nation that depends on the rule of law. And when your first act is to break the law, there has to be a consequence."

Outside of Donald Trump, none of the Hopefuls are calling for mass roundups and deportations as Pataki suggested. Pataki's only solutions to ending illegal immigration seem to be securing the border and ending sanctuary cities. He doesn't address the jobs magnet. He doesn't address visa overstays and the Congressionally-mandated biometric entry/exit system. And when he's asked again about Birthright Citizenship, he mischaracterizes the issue and says he supports continuing the policy. His answer for dealing with illegal aliens is to require them to do 200 hours of community service.

On Birthright Citizenship, PATAKI says "I don't think that we should tell that child that's born in America that we're sending him back."

Again, no one is talking about deporting children who were born in the United States. Birthright Citizenship is about ending the policy of automatically granting citizenship to FUTURE children born in the United States to two illegal-alien parents.

6:40 p.m. -- The questioning then goes to Sen. Graham who co-authored the Gang of 8 amnesty bill that would immediately issue work permits to most of the 11 million illegal aliens and double legal immigration over the next 10 years and calls those who criticize his plan, the "peanut gallery."

GRAHAM: "I'm trying to fix the problem. We're not going to deport 11 million people here illegally, but we're going to start with felons and off they go. To the rest, you can stay, but you've got to learn our language. ... You have to pay taxes, you have to pay a fine, you have to get to the back of the line."

Of course, while they're waiting in line, illegal aliens get to live and work legally in the United States. Graham does address say he supports ending Birth Tourism.

After Graham's answer, he and Santorum get into a back-and-forth on immigration. Graham makes it clear that his amnesty plan is simply to woo Hispanic voters and cut a deal with Democrats, while Santorum says his policy helps Hispanic Americans who are most hurt by illegal immigration and high levels of legal immigration. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for Hispanics is 20% higher than the country on a whole, and the figures are much worse when you add in discouraged workers and consider educational attainment. Graham also claims that immigration will help save Social Security.

GRAHAM: "We're going to need more legal immigration. ... We have a declining work force."

The labor participation rate is at its lowest since the 1970s. 15 million Americans want a full-time job, but can't find one. The unemployment rate for teenagers is 16.9%, and job prospects have never been worse for recent college graduates. But Graham says we need more foreign workers.

6:44 p.m. -- Tapper then directs the conversation to the Syrian refugee crisis. He contrasts Jindal's view that the U.S. should not bring in Syrian refugees with Graham's that the U.S. should take in refugees.

JINDAL: "The answer is not to put a band-aid on this and allow even more people to come to America. We should not short-circuit. We've got a vetting process. We've got a normal refugee process. Simply allowing more people into this country doesn't solve the problem. The way to solve this problem is for us to be clear to our friends and allies that we're going replace Assad [in Syria], we're going to hunt down and destroy ISIS. Our friends don't trust us and our enemies don't fear us."

6:46 p.m. -- Like Jindal, Graham blames the Syrian Refugee crisis on Pres. Obama's foreign policy decisions. But he doesn't directly address how the U.S. should handle the refugees. He has said over the past few weeks that the U.S. should accept Syrian Refugees.

You can read where NumberUSA stands on the Syrian Refugee crisis here.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA

Elections 2016

Updated: Fri, Feb 19th 2016 @ 10:26am EST

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