Thread: GOP Veepstakes and Immigration
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- 08-06-2012, 11:59 PM #1
GOP Veepstakes and Immigration
By James R. Edwards Jr., August 6, 2012
Center for Immigration Studies
Congress has finally left Washington for the month of August and the political gaming will gear up between now and the Republican and Democratic national conventions. That's no more evident than in the intensifying speculation of who GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will pick as his running mate.
Let's look briefly at the leading contenders for the Republican vice presidential nomination. Where they each stand on immigration issues is important because the VP will sit in the inner sanctum of the White House. The veep may not lead where a Romney administration goes on immigration issues, but would likely have a considerable voice in determining such matters.
Gov. Chris Christie
The outspoken, popular New Jersey governor draws a crowd across the country thanks to the former federal prosecutor's no-nonsense approach to running his state. A GOP leader in a liberal state could help bring the Garden State into play for the Romney campaign. But Gov. Christie has been rather quiet on immigration, except to say he generally would be okay with legalization of illegal aliens. There's reason to fear that he would be squishy on immigration if he became vice president.
Gov. Bobby Jindal
Gov. Jindal is sharp, capable, and an immigrant success story (the son of legal Indian immigrants who embodies the ideal of Americanization). At 24 years of age, Rhodes Scholar Jindal took charge of and rescued Louisiana's state health care agency. His career has rocketed from there, including service as Bush II's assistant secretary at Health and Human Services. He won the governor's post in 2007 after two terms in the U.S. House, where he earned a B+ from NumbersUSA. Last year, Jindal signed state E-Verify laws applying to state government and to businesses. His record indicates someone who would oppose amnesty, support enforcement and border control, and potentially support reducing legal immigration (he favored ending the visa lottery when in Congress).
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty
The two-term Minnesota governor is, by all accounts, an upstanding man with a compelling working-class background. Mr. Pawlenty has achieved his successes by his own bootstraps (President Obama's "You didn't build that" comment notwithstanding) and through a deep faith. His conservative principles come packaged in low-key, understated, Midwestern niceness. Having a self-made man from the heartland as VP means the perspective of working-class roots would be brought to any immigration matter that's discussed. And he hasn't been polluted by time inside the Beltway.
As governor, Pawlenty issued an executive order that required state agencies and contractors to verify employment eligibility through E-Verify. He enrolled state police in the 287(g) program. He used executive orders to block municipal sanctuary policies. In his presidential campaign, Mr. Pawlenty voiced opposition to amnesty and birthright citizenship, but was generally silent on the pressing need to end chain migration and the visa lottery and bring down overall mass immigration.
Sen. Rob Portman
Portman has spent much of his adult life inside the Beltway. The Ohio freshman in the U.S. Senate is an alumnus of the George W. Bush administration, where he headed the Office of Management and Budget and was the U.S. Trade Representative. He knows the federal budget inside out and hails from a state very much in play this fall. On initiatives like tax reform and entitlement reform, he'd bring much to the table. On immigration, not so great.
In the U.S. House from 1993-2005 and in the Senate since 2010, Portman has earned a career D+ grade from NumbersUSA. Immigration isn't an issue he has ever prioritized, being more of a budget and economics guy. He backed the REAL ID Act and IIRIRA. He has voted for border security measures, but on several small amnesties, some bad votes on key amendments to the 1996 IIRIRA bill, and openness to importing immigrant workers, his record reflects officials for whom immigration doesn't rank very high. Portman would likely tilt toward amnesties like the DREAM Act and ever-higher immigration levels if Big Business and GOP elites favored them.
Sen. Marco Rubio
Florida's freshman senator went to Washington in 2010. The Cuban-American might do less than wild-eyed party operatives expect in attracting Latinos to the GOP. He might do well in his home state, where Cuban immigrants are numerous and which most certainly is critical for a Romney victory, but probably won't do the party much good with Mexican-Americans and voters of Central American descent. A polished, articulate man, Rubio lights the fire of Tea Party activists everywhere. However, Rubio is very new on the national stage. Unvetted and lacking in experience, Rubio risks becoming the same kind of flash in the pan as Sarah Palin.
On immigration, his lack of legislative activity gets Mr. Rubio a C- grade. On the plus side, Sen. Rubio is a cosponsor of the Grassley E-Verify bill. On the minus side, he has cosponsored a terrible bill that would bring in more foreign workers and push American engineers and scientists out of their jobs — not smart politics when jobs is the number one issue. And Rubio has been writing his own amnesty bill, a DREAM Act-lite. That's not smart politics, either, when the Romney campaign needs every possible independent voter, most of whom oppose amnesty and favor giving Americans shots at American jobs instead of importing more cheap foreign labor.
Rep. Paul Ryan
The Wisconsin congressman who chairs the House Budget Committee is animated more by budget and economic issues than immigration. He has served in the House since 1999. In an election where the economy, jobs, and taxes take center stage, Ryan complements the already strong bona fides of Mitt Romney. There is no doubt that Wisconsin, following the ugly recall election public employee unions just put the state through, is already in play, and putting Ryan on the ticket would bolster Mr. Romney's prospects even more there.
Ryan only has a C grade from NumbersUSA. He has supported amendments to strengthen immigration enforcement, including mandatory custody for certain illegal aliens, protecting the 287(g) program from the Obama administration's weakening of it, an E-Verify requirement for certain government contractors, and for border security. Though largely inattentive to legal immigration matters, he did vote in 2005 to do away with the visa lottery. Ryan has backed increases in foreign workers. He likely would be unhelpful in restoring immigration to traditional levels.
Sen. John Thune
South Dakota's junior senator has a B- recent grade and a career A from NumbersUSA. The higher grade factors in his years in the House from 1997 to 2003. Thune looks like he just stepped out of a Western version of GQ magazine. A tall, rugged, Christian family man, Thune is a solid conservative who doesn't get under moderates' skin. In fact, he won a leadership post by unanimous vote of the GOP senators.
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Thune voted against cloture on the DREAM Act amnesty in the 2010 lame duck session, but has cosponsored a bill to boost the number of H-2B unskilled, nonagricultural foreign workers. Before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shut down the amendment process in the Senate entirely through rules abuse this Congress, Thune supported the several pro-enforcement amendments offered, such as reauthorizing E-Verify, defunding locales with sanctuary policies, and completing the border barrier. Importantly, Thune voted against the McCain-Kennedy-Bush amnesties in 2006 and 2007. His voice on immigration as VP would sound closer to that of Sens. Sessions and Grassley and much less like McCain's.
Kelly Ayotte — The very capable freshman U.S. senator from New Hampshire has a NumbersUSA grade of C-. She has focused her attention on other issues.
Jeb Bush — The former Florida governor is reliably outspoken for mass immigration and amnesty. This would be like picking John McCain or Luis Gutierrez to head up immigration policy.
Robert McDonnell — The governor of Virginia, another competitive state, has successfully balanced immigrant outreach with promoting the rule of law toward immigration's adverse effects. Very effective running the state.
Susana Martinez — New Mexico's Hispanic governor favors repealing her state's law enabling illegal aliens to get driver's licenses. But she has criticized Romney's attrition through enforcement stance and has urged softening toward amnesty.
Ron Paul — The iconoclastic libertarian congressman from Texas earns a B career grade from NumbersUSA. Paul and Romney enjoy a warm relationship and he would bring a large following nationally, but Rep. Paul comes from a deep red state that Mr. Romney will walk away with anyway and he's been a bit wily on immigration specifics.
Condoleezza Rice — The speculative sizzle during midsummer parlor games over the former Secretary of State's veep chances seems to have cooled. Her George W. Bush pedigree doesn't inspire confidence for those favoring less immigration and consistent enforcement. Bottom line, Condi Rice is too liberal to pass muster with the GOP base.
Rick Santorum — The former primary rival and former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania ended up with about the best immigration stance in the GOP presidential primary. He advocated consistent immigration enforcement, mandatory E-Verify, and elimination of the visa lottery and chain migration visas. His addition to the ticket could enhance his state's competitiveness in the general election. It would certainly win favor with values voters, as well.
* * *
As a reminder about Romney, he resisted the deep blue urges of the Massachusetts legislature pertaining to immigration when he served as governor. Romney's record shows he resisted giving driver's licenses and in-state tuition to illegal aliens and he involved state police in the 287(g) program. His statements on the campaign trail this year have been principled and consistent regarding immigration enforcement and against amnesty, though he has been more favorable to high legal immigration.
GOP Veepstakes and Immigration | Center for Immigration StudiesWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.
- 08-07-2012, 12:36 PM #2
I nominate Allen West ( R-FL) !