A large number of Republican candidates are openly opposing Donald Trump’s immigration position. As I’ve noted before, 10 of the 11 GOP Senate candidates have campaigned on pro-immigration platforms. In the closest 40 House races according to Cook Political Report’s ratings, a majority of Republicans have already expressed openness to a pathway to legalization for unauthorized immigrants.
The large number of supporters of a compassionate immigration policy could be seen as surprising not only because the Republican presidential nominee has strongly opposed this approach, but also because only 6 of the districts are currently held by Democrats who back a legalization measure. However, it is important to note that these members are not out of step with their Republican constituents who, polls show nationally and on a state by state basis, support allowing unauthorized immigrants to stay.
Because some members were not directly asked about their views on legalization, support could be even greater, but here are the 21 members in tight races who have taken humane, pro-immigration positions:
1. Don Young (AK): “We want our country’s 11 million undocumented individuals to be welcomed and to have a place to belong – free of fear…. Immigrants have always recharged our country and have been reliable sources of economic growth, cultural diversity and innovation…. like our colleagues drafting the bill, we believe this legislation should… provide a clear and responsible path to citizenship for those already here.”
2. Scott Jones (CA-7): “For those folks who are here illegally, I would advocate, as I have always advocated, a pathway to legal status for each and every one of them if they can pass a background check.”
3. Jeff Denham (CA-10): “I believe our immigration system is broken and in need of real and effective reform. I support providing an earned path to citizenship for those who want it…. Reform will ensure that all undocumented immigrants are added to the tax rolls, ensuring that everyone pays their fair share.”
4. David Valadao (CA-21): “Immigration reform is something I’m still very supportive of and continue to work on behind the scenes…. Every bill that I’ve been a part of is about allowing immigrants who are here to go through a process to become legal. … For the people who are working hard in the fields, in the restaurant industry, in the service industry, I mean we’ve got to come up with a system that addresses the 11 million who are here. You have to have a process that makes sure that you have guest worker programs that work, visa programs that work.”
5. Darrell Issa (CA-49): “Beyond border security, any reform package must make an immediate determination of who stays and who goes, based on our national interests. Those who demonstrate the ability to contribute to our society in a meaningful way should have a path forward to guide them, be placed at the end of the legal-immigration line, meet the strict standards established and face a rigorous but fair application process. Those who are migrant workers should be put into a temporary guest-worker program.”
6. Mike Coffman (CO-6): “Immigration reform… has to be compassionate about keeping families together… I cosponsored legislation this summer that would give [immigrant children of unauthorized immigrants] a legal status and then a path to citizenship… For the adults who knowingly broke the law who are here today, I think they ought to have the opportunity to come out of the shadows and have a legal status.”
7. David Jolly (FL-13): “I support… comprehensive immigration reform that has remediation and penalties and so forth…. I don’t support a pathway to citizenship for people who came here illegally. But I do support a pathway to legal status and residency.”
8. Brian Mast (FL-18): “I do not support a pathway to citizenship… But I am open to a conversation of a pathway to legal work status for people who are here in the United States.”
9. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26): “I have been for comprehensive immigration reform… We need to have a guest worker program… We need to create a path to citizenship for those families who are undocumented but are contributing to our economy. A lot of people talk about the undocumented but they don’t realize that these are some of the hardest workers.”