To say the United States is in need of comprehensive immigration reform would be an understatement. Since Congress has been either unable or unwilling to enact any meaningful reform, immigration will be an important issue in the 2016 presidential election. Here’s a guide to where the 2016 presidential candidates stand on immigration.

Hillary Clinton (D)

Clinton supports a path to citizenship for immigrants except for those who have committed crimes either in the U.S. or in their home country.

Clinton would focus on more humane detention practices (easier for families to plead case for leniency), and shield millions of immigrants from deportation.

During a roundtable meeting at a Las Vegas high school, Clinton said, “This is where I differ from everyone on the Republican side. Make no mistake. Today, not a single Republican candidate – announced or potential – is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one.”

Bernie Sanders (D)

Sanders has said we are a nation of immigrants and that is the strength of America. Bernie supports an immigration system that invites greater innovation, diversity, and economic opportunity for both American-born citizens and the people who want to make America their home.

The focus should also be on immigration reform that will impact the status of 11 million undocumented people, protect American jobs using visa reform, secure the border, and protect undocumented workers from labor exploitation.

During a June speech, Sanders said, “It is time for this disgraceful situation to end. This country faces enormous problems and they will not be solved unless we are united. It is time to end the politics of division on this country, of politicians playing one group of people against another: white against black, male against female, straight against gay, native-born against immigrant.”

Ted Cruz (R)

According to his campaign site, Cruz has “championed measures to secure the border, reform the legal immigration system, and uphold the rule of law.”

In August, Cruz said, “I actually think the amnesty issue is broader than just another policy issue on which people can disagree. President Obama famously said his goal was to fundamentally transform the United States of America. And one of the critical tools he is using to try to do that is to allow millions of people to come here illegally.”

Cruz is against amnesty and has made it clear that there should be absolutely no path to citizenship for anyone who has come here illegally. During a speech he said, “I have never supported amnesty and never will support amnesty. I believe in the rule of law. You know, at the end of the day, these principles aren’t complicated. When it comes to immigration: legal, good; illegal, bad.”

 John Kasich (R)

Kasich agrees that a wall needs to be built along the border to secure the southern border. He also has been in agreement with others on removing birthright citizenship, but has since changed his mind.

During an interview with PBS in August, Kasich said, “We have to focus on the biggest issue here, which is, we have to finish the wall and then make it clear, if anybody comes over that wall again, they have to go back.  There should be no debate about that. And then I think, with the 12 million, they’re here.  If they have been law-abiding, then I believe they should have a path to legalization. They’re going to have to pay a fine. They’re going to have to wait, but I – look, they have become a very important part of society.”

Donald Trump (R)

Trump’s website discusses his immigration plan, which as three core principles: (1) A nation without borders is not a nation (2) A nation without laws is not a nation, and (3) A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation.

Within his three core principles, Trump states we need to build a wall across the southern border, enforce existing laws within the government on immigration, and have an immigration plan that improves jobs, wages, and security for all Americans.

Donald’s number one goal with building the wall along the southern border includes making Mexico pay for the wall that is built, saying, “Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country (as well as other Latin American countries).”

In enforcing the existing laws on immigration, Trump recommends tripling the number of ICE officers (from 5,000 to 15,000), saying that 5,000 officers cannot enforce laws against 11 million illegal immigrants.

Also included in his plan would be to have a nationwide e-verify system (employment verifications), a mandatory return of all criminals, detention of those who are caught crossing the border until they are returned to their home country, remove funding from sanctuary cities that refuse to enforce the immigration laws, subjecting those that overstay their visas to criminal penalties, and ending birthright citizenship.


To see where the candidates stand on other issues, check out the articles below:


Climate Change

Gun Control


Image Courtesy of Unsplashed (Pixabay)