(I'm watching the debate to see if any of these Republican candidates give us any hope is on immigration. I'll blog as I hear anything. Nearly all of these candidates are competing with who has the best "D" grade on immigration. Cain and Bachmann show they have some possibilities but they have failed thus far to show they can articulate these issues. What will we see tonight? (times listed Eastern time)
9:45 -- Well, bottom line is that tonight, ONLY Romney showed signs of understanding the key immigration issue of the moment -- JOBS. Every candidate had a chance to pick up on it because he went early in the round. Everybody else just repeated boilerplate border security on the good side and some pretty distasteful indications of willingness for an amnesty and a supposed need for MORE immigration.
And what was the deal with bringing in Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo to ask immigration questions? That decision shows that MSNBC and Politico think immigration is about ethnic politics and not about jobs, wages, quality of life. Most of the questions tonight from all were pretty aggressive. But Telemundo was an advocacy group asking questions. It definitely helped bring out some of the worst out of several of the candidates.
9:20 -- ads are on now. Well, the questions were overwhelmingly geared to push for amnesty. Not surprisingly, most of the candidates reacted defensively and looked very unsure of their positions, like they were kind of embarrassed to be against illegal immigration.
Romney was the only person who related the issue to jobs -- and he did it twice! He could have done better, but he was so much better than all the rest that he is on the verge of being declared by me as the clearcut winner on immigration in this debate.
Bachmann came out with no apologies for obeying the law to build the border fence.
Perry stood strong against amnesty but definitely left himself open for amnesty down the road.
All the rest were net losers in their answers. During this time of incredible unemployment, the rest of them gave the sense that we need more foreign workers. Although Cain strongly backed giving states power to enforce immigration laws the feds won't enforce, he sounded like he wants to further flood our job markets and communities with even more immigration over the current quadrupled level. Most discouraging.
9:17 -- Paul: We need to remove benefits for illegal immigration. Our drug laws drive a lot of this. People who want big fences and guns -- sure that could stop it but I don't think that is who we are as a nation. I think this fence business may well be used to keep us in. Need easier road to citizenship.
9:16 -- Huntsman: Pres. Reagan saw it as a human issue. Yes, they came here in violation of law. I see this issue through adopted foreign children eyes. Remember that we are dealing with human beings. Let's not lose sight of fact that our legal system is broken. If we want to lift real estate values, we need to
9:15 -- Cain: Let's promote the path to citizenship already there. Clean it up and get bureaucracy out of the way. Empower states to do what the federal government can't and won't do.
9:13 -- Bachmann: (pressed repeatedly on what to do with the 11 million people) In Mexico, we are dealing with narco-terrorists. To not build a fence on every part of that border is to give up sovereignty. I have talked to Hispanics along the border who want taxpayer benefits from illegal aliens. Our immigration system worked great in 1950s and 1960s when people had to show they arrived with money in their pockets and would not become taxpayer burdens.
9:12 -- Santorum: We should not have a debate about how we don't want people to come here. Got to have them come according to the rules. (He emphasizes his immigrant roots.) Can't have the discussion about what to do about those here illegally now because that would be like the trick pulled in 1986.
9:11 -- Gingrich: Have to have everybody here legally. I voted for Simpson/Mazzoli act that granted amnesty in return for some promises. We need legal guestworker program outsourced to American Express and Visa. Insist new immigrants learn English and American history. Then find a way to deal with folks who have been here maybe 20 years. Can't deport them all.
9:10 -- Romney: First we have to have the fence and enough agents to man that fence. Yes, they can always get a ladder to go over the fence, but agents tell me the reason people who come in is the jobs magnet. Also got to get rid of incentives like in-state tuition, sancutary cities and employers knowingly hiring illegal aliens. Can't talk about amnesty because it will encourage more illegal immigration.
9:09 -- Perry: (He was asked what specifically in your mind would make the border secure?) He focuses as usual on Border Patrol. Can secure border but requires feds to put boots on ground, predator drones. Says has been asking feds for long for more agents. After secure border, then can have an intellectually appropriate discussion immigration reform.
9:08 -- Finally, immigration.
8:42 -- Great ad on national MSNBC pointing out that LEGAL immigration is flooding our labor markets during a time of high unemployment, and does that make any sense. Wonderful to have this message put in front of all the political junkies watching this debate. Ad was by CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization). Hooray for them. Wouldn't it be great to hear such a simple message from one of these candidates?
8:33 -- Twitter questions are starting.
8:15 -- Bachmann at least referenced teenage unemployment and the incredibly high rates for black and Hispanic youth -- and the need for jobs to maintain and build character and our young people. But she fails to note that immigration crowds American youth out of their potential jobs.
8:10 p.m. -- nothing yet
8:00 p.m. -- Debate begins
-- ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Sep 7th 2011 @ 11:28pm EDT