John Kasich on Immigration
Republican Governor; previously Representative (OH-12); 2000 candidate for President
KASICH: I'm for sealing the border, I'm for a guest worker program. People can come in, work, and go back home. We haven't closed the border because special interests, I believe, blocked it. We have 11 and a half million people here. If they have not committed a crime since they've been here, make them pay a fine & back taxes, and give them a path to legalization, never to citizenship. It is not going to happen that we're going to run around and try to drag 11 and a half million people out of their homes.
Ted CRUZ: I want people to be able to come out of the shadows. [But] I have promised to rescind every single illegal executive action [by Obama on immigration].
Jeb BUSH: Coming here legally should be a lot easier than coming here illegally.
KASICH: In 1986 Ronald Reagan basically said the people who were here, if they were law-abiding, could stay. But, what didn't happen is we didn't build the walls effectively and we didn't control the border. We need to control our border. But if people think that we are going to ship 11 million people who are law-abiding, who are in this country, and somehow pick them up at their house and ship them out to Mexico, think about the families. Think about the children. So, you know what the answer really is? If they have been law-abiding, they pay a penalty. They get to stay. We protect the wall. Anybody else comes over, they go back. But for the 11 million people, come on, folks. We all know you can't pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It's a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense.
KASICH: Look, I have to be clear about it. I'm just trying to say that, in the course of a presidential campaign, I'm glad that I don't move so fast that I ignore people. And my views on our Hispanic friends across this country have been very positive. They are impactful in so many different ways. My position on immigration has been on that is intended to keep families together and to give them a good place in American society. I have great respect for [Latinos]. I think they are an important fabric of America.
KASICH: The head of the Hispanic Chamber said he appreciated my comments. And as you know, having followed me through this race, I've had a very reasonable position on immigration. I've always said that Hispanics are such a critical part of the fabric of the United States. They occupy jobs from top to bottom. They're God fearing and they're hard working. And if I need to clarify what I meant by that, I'm more than glad to do it. And that means that they hold very important positions. I've got a friend who's a doctor in oncology. I mean, that shows you how crazy it can get in this business. But to be clear, I believe that, from top to bottom, Hispanics play a critical role in America, not only today, but going forward.
KASICH: The 14th amendment makes it clear that when you're born here you become a citizen. So bringing up that issue, because we do need to build the fence to protect our border, have reasonable guest worker program so people can come in and out, that lawbreakers go to prison or are deported, and the rest of the people pay a fine, they wait and they can be legalized. I think that's something the American people would support and I think it's something that could pass Congress. I'm interested in getting things done, not just banging on the podium, being an ideologue and making statements.
A: First of all, we ought to finish the fence. The 11 million who are here, we ought to find out who they are. If they've been law abiding over a period of time they ought to be legalized and ought to be able to stay here. If you have violated the law, we're going to ship you out. Once that fence gets built, we should make it clear, anybody who sneaks in, you're going back home. And in addition we need a guest worker program so that people can come in and work and be able to go back to support their family.
Q: Would ending birthright citizenship be part of this larger immigration approach?
A: I don't think we need to go there.
KASICH: What I support is a guest worker program expanded so people can come in and then go home. Seal the border. There are some interest groups that don't want the border to be sealed.
Q: What does "seal the border" mean, though?
KASICH: You do it with fencing and you do it with technology, drones and sensors. And, you know, Duncan Hunter in San Diego has significantly reduced the number of people coming across the border because of his initiatives on fencing. So do as best you can there. I've been told by grownups, real experts, that most of this can be done effectively. Guest worker program, the 12 million that are here, if they violated the law, they're going to have to pay a fine and pay a penalty for the fact that they violated the law. But, you know, if they're part of our culture now and society, and they're doing fine, they're hardworking, they're just like all of us, then I think they can stay.
At the Republican Governors Association conference in November, Kasich voiced a similar opinion. "My sense is, I don't like the idea of citizenship when people jump the line," he said. "We may have to do it. It may be a laborious and tough process. I would never say you would never do it."
Kasich has avoided giving his direct opinion on the federal DREAM Act, though Ohio was among the 25 states that challenged the federal government over Obama's executive actions on immigration.
We've tightened up our borders a bit, since September 11, 2001, and in some communities our tolerance thresholds have been challenged as we attempt to coexist with our Arab friends, but America's open-door, melting-pot, inclusiv approach remains essentially intact: You can build your temples here. But for the whole lot of us to survive, there needs to be that religious foundation, and there ought to be some uniformity within that foundation. Clearly, our Founding Fathers recognized this as well--celebrating our Judeo-Christian principles in our Constitution. The Jewish and Christian religions that flow from these principles give us our shared conscience, and provide an essential bulwark for any free and dynamic society.
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