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  by  Roy Beck

Typically this past year, Republican voters have pushed a new presidential candidate high up the polls before taking a good look at the immigration record/platform of that candidate.  Each time, NumbersUSA has provided an in-depth look at that candidate's immigration positions, on the basis of our best-in-the-nation immigration records.

It is now former Senator Rick Santorum's turn as he surges in the Iowa polls just days before that state's first-in-the-nation caucuses. 

For whatever reasons Iowa Republicans are getting excited about Sen. Santorum, it is a good bet that it isn't because of his immigration-issues profile -- which they likely know little about.

LITTLE SIGN OF AWARENESS THAT IMMIGRATION AFFECTS AMERICANS' JOBS

Although not nearly as bad as Former Speaker Newt Gingrich on this issue, Sen. Santorum tends to act like our country has a worker shortage:

  • Santorum's Senate record shows lack of support for E-Verify to push illegal aliens out of their jobs to make room for unemployed Americans. And he has failed in all debate opportunities to show a changed position.
  • In debates and interviews this year, Santorum has talked of the need to increase the number of immigrant workers in this country, at a time when 20 million Americans who want a full-time job (at every skill level) can't find one.  
  • Our overall grading of Santorum on his presidential campaign approach to  12 immigration issues is a D

ROOM FOR SANTORUM SUPPORTERS TO URGE -- AND HOPE FOR -- IMPROVEMENT 

As with all candidates -- Democrat or Republican -- we encourage supporters of Santorum to press him to improve his immigration platform.  There is a lot of room for improvement, in part because some of the reason for Santorum's low Presidential Candidate grade is just his failure to address certain issues at all. 

Look at his grid and see where he can improve by speaking out on new immigration issues.

Another reason for hope for Santorum is that -- unlike Gingrich -- he wasn't that bad while he was in Congress.  His actions on immigration while in Congress earned him an overall Immigration-Reduction Grade of B-minus. 

As a composite grade of his career and over many issues, the rather mediocre grade includes some really horrible activity in the 1990s that got averaged with mostly stellar behavior in the last year before he left the Senate.  In 2006, Santorum repeatedly voted to amend for the better Sen. John McCain's amnesty and then voted to kill it.

Just as he got better on immigration at the end of his congressional career, he has improved considerably on amnesty issues in the latter part of this Presidential campaign.  We were particularly impressed that Santorum -- who in many ways is running as the "Catholic candidate" -- recently publicly repudiated the aggressive pro-amnesty leadership of the U.S. Catholic bishops.  

PROBLEMS ON E-VERIFY

While then-Speaker of the House Gingrich was helping kill mandatory workplace verification in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, Sen. Santorum was trying to prevent even setting up a voluntary program.

This is significant history.

If Sen. Simpson (R-Wyoming) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) had succeeded with their bills to create a mandatory E-Verify system in 1996, I am certain that illegal immigration would not be an issue in this presidential campaign.  If they had succeeded, the flow of illegal aliens these last 15 years would have been a fraction of what actually happened because the word would have gotten out around the world that no matter how much money you paid to be smuggled and no matter how hard you worked once you got here you would never get a payroll job even at minimum wage.  And millions of the illegal aliens already here in 1996 would have given up and gone back home once they could no longer aspire to payroll jobs in this country.

If the Simpson/Smith bill had passed as written, we wouldn't come close to having 7 million illegal aliens holding U.S. jobs today.  And millions of Americans who currently are unemployed would have jobs.

But Sen. Santorum did not side with Sen. Simpson.  Instead, he allied himself with Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Michigan) who was the Republican Party's chief open-borders advocate. Simpson's mandatory workplace verification had already been watered down to a voluntary system when Abraham submitted an amendment to gut the voluntary program. Both Parties split their votes.  Fortunately, Abraham's amendment came up five votes short. Santorum voted with Abraham and the cheap-labor lobbyists who did everything they could to protect the ability of outlaw businesses to hire illegal foreign labor.

The roll call vote in the 104th Congress - 2nd Session came at 5:01 p.m., May 1, 1996.  The vote was on a motion to table Abraham's amendment No. 3752 to S. 1664 (Sen. Simpson's Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996).

This is old history.  In our NumbersUSA rating system for Presidential candidates, all would be forgiven if Sen. Santorum would make a public pledge to throw his all-out support for a mandatory E-Verify law.  But in his answers to all the immigration questions this past year, we cannot find any record of Santorum showing support for E-Verify.

And while other candidates provide pages on their website that give positions on immigration, Sen. Santorum doesn't address immigration on his website.

OUR CURRENT RATINGS OF SANTORUM IN 12 IMMIGRATION CATEGORIES

We are constantly reconsidering ratings as candidates have said or written new things over the last year.  If you are reading this blog in 2012, be sure to go directly to our ratings at:

https://www.numbersusa.com/content/action/rick-santorum.html

On Dec. 30, 2011, here is how we rate Santorum on:

GOOD -- Oppose Amnesty/Legalization

BAD -- Mandate E-Verify

ABYSMAL -- Reduce Overall Immigration

FIRST STEPS -- End Chain Migration

BAD -- End Visa Lottery

ABYSMAL -- Limit Unfair Worker Competition

EXCELLENT -- Secure Borders

FIRST STEPS -- Implement Entry/Exit System For Foreign Visitors

UNHELPFUL -- Support Local Enforcement

GOOD  -- Punish Business Violators

UNHELPFUL -- Tackle Refugee Fraud

UNHELPFUL -- End Birthright Citizenship for Illegal Aliens

WHAT SANTORUM SAID ABOUT IMMIGRATION IN THE DEBATES

Our Chief Researcher Joe Jenkins has just provided me with the following compilation of Santorum's comments about immigration in the televised debates:

May 5 debate - nothing

June 13 debate:

Question: As a naturalized American citizen who came here legally, I would like to know how you, as America -- as president, plan to prevent illegal immigrants from using our health care, educational, or welfare systems?

Santorum's answer: "Well, I'm the son of a legal immigrant in this country and -- and believe in legal immigration. That is a great wellspring of -- of strength for our country. 

But we cannot continue to provide -- the federal government should not require states to provide government services. And I have consistently voted against that and believe that we are, unfortunately -- my grandfather came to this country -- I announced in Somerset County. He didn't come here because he was guaranteed a government benefit. He came here because he wanted freedom. 

And I think most people who come to this country -- certainly all people who come here legally -- want it because they wanted the opportunities of this country. And that's what we should be offering. We should not be offering to people -- particularly those who broke the law to come here or overstayed their visa -- we should not be offering government benefits. "

Source: http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1106/13/se.02.html


August 11 debate - nothing (skipped Santorum in immigration segment)

Sept 7 debate: (Diaz-Balart asks everyone what how the border should be secured)

Santorum: Well, my solution is very similar to Newt Gingrich's.

Look, I'm the son of an Italian immigrant. I think immigration is one of the great things that has made this country the dynamic country that it continues to be, people who are drawn because of the ideals of this country. And so we should not have a debate talking about how we don't want people to come to this country, but we want them to come here like my grandfather and my father came here.

They made sacrifices. They came in the 1920s. There were no promises. There were no government benefits. They came because they wanted to be free and they wanted to be good law-abiding citizens. So we have to have a program in place that sets that parameter that says, you're going to come to this country, come here according to the rules. It's a very good first step that the first thing you do here is a legal act, not an illegal act.

HARRIS: A quick follow-up, 30 seconds. So there are 11 million people that -- fait accompli. They're here. What do you do with them if you are able to secure the border?

SANTORUM: Well, I think we can have the discussion, that whether what we do with people, how long they've been here, whether they had other types of records. But to have that discussion right now and pull the same trick that was pulled in 1986 -- we said, well, we'll promise to do this if you do that -- no more. We are going to secure the border first, and that's the most important thing to do, then we'll have the discussion afterwards.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/us/politics/08republican-debate-text.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1325210480-sfqZOfeuZaE4gJDKGhDHUg

Sept 12 debate:

Question: what would you do to remove the illegal immigrants from our country?

Santorum: I've said this from the very beginning. What -- I'm the son of an Italian immigrant. I believe in immigration. I believe that immigration is an important part of the lifeblood of this country.

But what we have is a problem of an unsecure border. Unlike Governor Perry, I believe we need to build more fence. I need -- I believe that we need to secure the border using technology and more personnel. And until we build that border, we should neither have storm troopers come in and throw people out of the country nor should we provide amnesty.

What we should do is enforce the laws in this country with respect to employers, and we should secure the border. And then after the border is secured, then we can deal with the problem that are in this country. But I -- I think it's very important that we understand and we explain to folks that immigration is an important lifeblood of this country, something that I strongly support and something that we have to do legally if we're going to have -- have respect for the law. 

Source: http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1109/12/se.06.html

BLITZER: Let me just take this quick question from Twitter, and then I want to stay on this subject. What are the candidates doing to attract the Latino voters? Go ahead, Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, what Governor Perry's done is he provided in-state tuition for -- for illegal immigrants. Maybe that was an attempt to attract the illegal vote -- I mean, the Latino voters.

But you track Latino voters by talking about the importance of immigration in this country. You talk about the importance of -- as -- as Newt has talked about for many years, having English as the -- as the official language of this country.

And I say that...

I say that as, again, my -- my father and grandfather came to this country not speaking a word of English, but it was the greatest gift to my father to have to learn English so he could assimilate into this society.

We're a melting pot, not a salad bowl. And we need to continue that tradition.  

Source: http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1109/12/se.06.html

Sept 22 debate

SANTORUM: Governor Perry, no one is suggesting up here that the students that are illegal in this country shouldn't be able to go to a college and university. I think you are sort of making this leap that, unless we subsidize this, the taxpayers subsidize it, they won't be able to go. Well, most folks who want go to the state of Texas or any other state out of state have to pay the full boat (ph). The point is, why are we subsidizing? Not that they can't go. They can go. They just have to borrow money, find other sources to be able to go. And why should they be given preferential treatment as an illegal in this country? That's what we're saying.
(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: And so, yes, I would say that he is soft on illegal immigration. I think the fact that he doesn't want to build a fence -- he gave a speech in 2001 where he talked about, buy national health insurance between Mexico and Texas. I mean, I don't even think Barack Obama would be for buy national health insurance. So I think he's very weak on this issue of American sovereignty and protecting our borders and not being a magnet for illegal immigration, yes.  Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/22/fox-news-google-gop-2012-presidential-debate/

Oct. 11 debate - nothing

Oct. 18 debate

COOPER: To the question on the 14th Amendment, do you support repealing the 14th Amendment?

SANTORUM: I'd like to address the issue that the gentleman brought up, which is, what are we going to say to the Latino community? And not one person mentioned the issue of family, faith, marriage.

This is a community that is a faith-filled community, that family is at the center of that community. I disagree in some respects with Congressman Paul, who says the country is founded on the individual. The basic building block of a society is not an individual. It's the family. That's the basic unit of society.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: And the Latino community understands that. They understand the importance of faith and marriage. They understand that bond that builds that solid foundation, and that inculcation of faith and religious freedom. And I think the Latino community knows that's at stake in this country.

There's a lot going on right now that's eroding our religious freedom, that's eroding the traditional values of marriage and family. And there's one candidate up here who consistently sounds that theme.

Look, I'm for jobs, too. I have got an economic plan, and I agree with everything that's been said. But we keep running roughshod over the fact that family in America and faith in America is being crushed by the courts and our government, and someone has stand up and fight for those institutions (ph).

 Source: http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1110/18/se.05.html

Nov 9 debate - nothing

Nov. 12 debate - nothing

Nov. 22 debate -

QUESTION: I have a question about high-skilled immigration. We hear a lot about low-skilled immigration, so I want to ask you about high-skilled immigration.

What would you do to ensure that the United States is as welcoming as possible to the world's skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs?

SANTORUM: Well, as the son of a legal immigrant to this country, I strongly believe in legal immigration and believe we are that shining city on the hill, that our future -- if you look at all of the jobs that are being created in our economy today, a huge percentage of them come from the legal immigrants of this county -- country who have innovated, who created great products, who created great companies and employed lots of people.

That's one of the reasons that -- that I put together my economic plan, was to take all that great innovation that's coming as a result, in part, of legal immigration and make sure that those products that are being created are actually made here in America.

That's part of the problem that -- you know, Reaganomics was criticized as trickle-down. Problem is, we're not seeing that money trickle down to the blue-collar workers in America. And that's why I put forth a four-point economic plan to revitalize manufacturing that begins with zeroing out the corporate tax for manufacturers; also, regulatory reform, repatriation of profits, if invested in this country, to pay no taxes; and finally, energy policy that will explode the energy industry in this country.

We do those things, we'll not only have the innovation, which I support, coming from legal -- legal immigrants, but we'll have that money trickle down to blue-collar workers and we can see that income mobility that a lot of people are right in that is not happening in America. 

Source: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1111/22/se.06.html

Dec. 10 debate - nothing

Dec. 15 debate - nothing 

MY ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS

Transcripts tend to make all of us sound disorganized and rambling.  But Sen. Santorum's remarks on immigration suggest to me a person who is intensely uncomfortable dealing with the issue.  His constant references to his immigrant relatives generally are unhelpful for understanding what he would do on policy and make him sound afraid to set real boundaries on immigration.

Inside all his debate rambling are some pretty good assurances against big amnesties (legalizations) and little amnesties (benefits and other rewards).

But he had good chances to talk about Attrition Through Enforcement, E-Verify and Birthright Citizienship,  and chose to change the subject rather than provide us a glimpse at proposed leadership.

On this day, Santorum's immigration platform is far inferior to that of candidates Romney and Bachmann.

ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

Updated: Fri, Dec 30th 2011 @ 12:48pm EST

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