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Sam Brownback on Immigration

Republican Sr Senator (KS)


Push enforcement at the worksite

The American people are for legal immigration. They donít support illegal immigration. They want to see us secure the border They want to see us have enforcement at the worksite. Thatís the key attraction. Those are things I will push for. I will not support new paths to citizenship. I do think in the future we should look at different work-visa-type programs as a way to be able to deal with the problem that youíre identifying, which is the realistic problem of where we are today.
Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

Oppose amnesty, but guest worker program ok

Q: Will you oppose all plans for amnesty, path to citizenship, guest workers, and seasonal passes until the very high unemployment rate of our own minority youth has dropped to 5%?

COX: Can we oppose amnesty in any circumstance?

BROWNBACK: I agree on opposing amnesty. On the guest worker provision, I think there are places, and particularly in industries like agriculture, that we should use guest worker programs.

COX: I oppose amnesty because it doesnít work. Itís not going to solve the problem. Itís only going to encourage more illegal behavior.

TANCREDO: Listen, amnesty is the worst possible public policy you can ever have. It rewards illegal behavior, it encourages more of it, and itís a slap in the face of every single person who as done it the right way. We should never, ever have amnesty.

Source: [Xref Tancredo] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Balance principles: nation of laws vs. compassionate society

Immigration is always changing the face of the country, and it always seems to be that the current group seeking to get in isnít good enough for the people already who are here.

I believe in the Reagan philosophy that America is ďa shining city on a hill.Ē Reagan signed the 1986 immigration bill that has been roundly attacked in recent years. I believe he always intended for us to be open and hospitable to men and women who want to come here legally for a better life, and thatís something I have supported from the beginning.

It seemed to me that some of our basic principles were at cross-purposes with our immigration problem. One principle is that we are a nation of laws. We believe that the are meant to be obeyed, and if you violate the law, there should be judgment and suitable punishment.

On the other hand, weíre also a compassionate society. We want to try to help those who are less fortunate than we are as much as we possibly can. And these two principles come into conflict.

Source: From Power to Purpose, by Sam Brownback, p.153-156 , Jul 3, 2007

No new paths to citizenship, but reform bill ok if enforced

Q: What do you say about a pathway towards citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants who are in the country?

BROWNBACK: I donít think you create any new paths to citizenship. But you allow them to use paths they would currently qualify for, and to be able to get in the back of the line. If you do exterior border enforcement & aggressive interior enforcement, thatís something that can move us forward.

Q: So you support this pending compromise legislation?

BROWNBACK: If those things are in it.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Toughen the borders & combine enforcement with legalization

Q: You say that youíre a full-scale Ronald Reagan Republican, and yet you support comprehensive immigration reform. Are those the stands that Ronald Reagan would take?

A: We had a situation in 1986 under Ronald Reagan, where he endorsed an the amnesty proposal. We had a proposal in 1996 that passed that was an enforcement-only proposal. And pulling these together is something that we have to do, to fundamentally alter the situation where the immigration system isnít working. Weíve got to toughen the borders. And weíve got to somehow work together to see a work visa program that will allow people to get into a legal system, not an illegal system. Thatís what people really get irritated about. Itís not that people come into the country legally, itís that they come in illegally. And I think Ronald Reagan would work on those sorts of things.

Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina , May 15, 2007

Increase legal immigrants & build a fence on Mexican border

We need to build a fence to help secure our southern border, but thatís not enough. We need to integrate our Social Security system because most people are coming here for a job. Everybody shows up with a Social Security number. Employers should know, immediately over the Internet, is this a good number or a bad number.

Weíve got to not only secure our border, but we also need to increase the number of legal immigrants, or weíll continue to push people into an illegal system. We allow in 50,000 legal agricultural workers each year. The marketplace demands 500,000. What do you think is going to happen in that type of a system?

We need to focus on the criminal element and the terrorist element. And if people want to legitimately work, letís supply a simpler system to let them. Weíve got to secure that border.

Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC , Mar 14, 2007

Raise the number of legal immigrants over time

Q: One quote about you: ďFoes of illegal immigration objected to Brownbackís support for a temporary guest worker program.Ē Do you support a pathway towards citizenship?

A: I think first and foremost, we have to secure our borders and get more interio enforcement, particularly at the workplace. But I do think over time weíre going to need to increase the number of legal immigrants we allow in the US and make the system simpler, if itís some sort of guest worker program or other to try to reduce this tide and this draw into this country. Weíve got to enforce the borders, but I do think, over time, youíre going to need to see us raise the number of legal immigrants allowed into the US.

Q: And some of those who are here right now should have an opportunity to eventually become citizens?

A: Well, I donít know if I would go that far. Weíre drafting a Republican proposal now in the Senate that Iím hopeful to be a part of. We have to draw the people out of the shadows into a legal system.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Feb 25, 2007

Voted NO on continuing federal funds for declared "sanctuary cities".

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To create a reserve fund to ensure that Federal assistance does not go to sanctuary cities that ignore the immigration laws of the United States and create safe havens for illegal aliens and potential terrorists. This vote is a motion to table the amendment; voting YES would kill the amendment.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. VITTER: There are so-called sanctuary cities which establish as an official policy of their jurisdiction: We are not going to cooperate with Federal immigration enforcement officials. That is wrong. What is more, it is completely contrary to Federal immigration law. My amendment says: We are going to put some consequence to that defiance of Federal law. We are not going to give them COPS funds. We are going to send those funds, instead, to all of those other jurisdictions which abide by Federal law.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. DURBIN: There are sanctuary cities in about 23 different States across America. What the Vitter amendment will do is to take away the COPS funding from those cities. Police departments will tell you they need the cooperation of everyone to solve crimes and stop crime. If you create fear in the minds of those who are here in an undocumented status that any cooperation with the police will result in their arrest, they will not cooperate and criminals will go free. Let's not use the COPS Program as some sort of threat. If you want to deal with immigration, deal with it responsibly in a comprehensive way. SUPPORTER'S RESPONSE:Sen. VITTER: If folks feel that way, they should come to Congress and change Federal law, not simply defy Federal law. This is another amnesty vote. Are we going to give folks in sanctuary cities amnesty for defying Federal law and refusing to cooperate with Federal immigration officials? LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Motion to Table Agreed to, 58-40

Reference: Bill Table S.Amdt.4309 to S.Con.Res ; vote number 08-S069 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted NO on comprehensive immigration reform.

    Establishes specified benchmarks which must be met before the guest worker and legalization programs may be initiated:
  1. operational control of the border with Mexico;
  2. Border Patrol increases;
  3. border barriers, including vehicle barriers, fencing, radar, and aerial vehicles;
  4. detention capacity for illegal aliens apprehended crossing the US-Mexico border;
  5. workplace enforcement, including an electronic employment verification system; and
  6. Z-visa alien processing.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

If we do not legislate now, we will not legislate later this year when our calendar is crowded with Iraq and appropriations bills. We are then an election year, and it will be pushed over to 2009. Circumstances will not be better then, they will be worse.

A vote against cloture is a vote to kill the bill. A Senator may vote for cloture and then express himself in opposition to the bill by voting against the bill.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

If this bill becomes law, we will see only a 13% reduction in illegal immigration into America, and in the next 20 years we will have another 8.7 million illegals in our country. How can that be reformed? I submit this would be a disaster.

The Congressional telephone systems have shut down because of the mass phone calls Congress is receiving. A decent respect for the views of the American people says let's stop here now. Let's go back to the drawing board and come up with a bill that will work.

The American people get it, and they do have common sense and wisdom on this issue. They know repeating the fundamental mistakes of the 1986 bill, joining a big amnesty with inadequate enforcement, will cause the problem to grow and not diminish. They know promising enforcement after 30 years of broken promises isn't good enough. They know the so-called trigger is a joke because if the trigger is never pulled, the Z visas, the amnesty happens forever.

Reference: McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill; Bill S.1639 ; vote number 2007-235 on Jun 28, 2007

Voted YES on declaring English as the official language of the US government.

Voting YES would declare English as the national language of the Government of the US. Unless specifically provided by statute, no person would have an entitlement to have the Government of the US communicate or provide materials in any language other than English. If an exception is made with respect to the use of a language other than English, the exception does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language. If any form is issued by the Federal Government in a language other than English, the English language version of the form is the sole authority for all legal purposes. Nothing in this amendment shall prohibit the use of a language other than English.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Right now, the polling shows that 91% of the people in America want English as an official language, and 76% of Hispanics believe English should be an official language.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I believe the American people understand in order to succeed in our society, immigrants need to learn English. But the amendment would do a number of things that are problematical. The first is that it is contrary to the provisions of law that exist in many States. For example, in New Mexico, you have in their State Constitution, a provision that says that many of the documents within that State have to be provided in both English and Spanish. The same thing is true for the State of Hawaii. I believe this is a States rights issue, and those constitutions of those States ought to be respected. I do not believe it is a matter we ought to be imposing here from Washington DC.

Also, this amendment would undo an executive order conceived by President Bill Clinton and implemented by President George Bush. Both recognized it is important that people who have limited English proficiency receive the kinds of services so they can understand what is going on in terms of the interface between the Government and themselves.

Reference: National Language Amendment Act; Bill S.Amdt.1151 to S.1348 ; vote number 2007-198 on Jun 6, 2007

Voted NO on eliminating the "Y" nonimmigrant guestworker program.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

This legislation says we wish to add something called guest workers or temporary workers. With guest workers, working Americans would discover there is no opportunity for upward mobility at their job. In fact, every day their employers are trying to find ways to push down wages, eliminate retirement, and eliminate health care. What has happened in this country, with what is called the "new global economy," is dramatic downward pressure on income for American workers. The guest worker program provides that 400,000 people will be able to come in to assume jobs in our country per year--adding to the 12 million illegal immigrants already here.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I certainly concur about the need to secure our borders, about the need to have a workable immigration system, and the need for reform that ensures the rule of law is restored in the US. Where I differ is in the belief that we can actually achieve these goals if we have no ability for temporary workers to come to the country. This amendment would eliminate the temporary worker program from this bill.

Now, there are several reasons why a temporary worker program, within certain constraints, is a good idea. The first reason is because it will help to relieve the magnet for illegal immigration. The reason most of the people are crossing our border illegally is to get employment. There are jobs available for them. Some people say this is work Americans will not do. That is actually not true. But there are not enough American citizens to do all of the work that needs to be done. So naturally the law of supply and demand sets in here. People come across the border illegally, and they take that work. What we want to do is both close the border, but also eliminate the magnet for illegal employment here, because the reality is desperate people will always try to find some way to get into the country.

Reference: Dorgan Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.1153 on S.1348 ; vote number 2007-174 on May 22, 2007

Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border.

Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:
  1. systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology; and
  2. physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry
Defines "operational control" as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.

Proponents support voting YES because:

It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:

  1. systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology; and
  2. physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry
Defines "operational control" as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.

Proponents support voting YES because:

It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of

Reference: Secure Fence Act; Bill H R 6061 ; vote number 2006-262 on Sep 29, 2006

Voted YES on establishing a Guest Worker program.

Reference: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act; Bill S. 2611 ; vote number 2006-157 on May 25, 2006

Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security.

Voting YEA would table (kill) the proposed amendment to prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security benefits. Voting NAY supports that prohibition, while voting YEA supports immigrants participating in Social Security. Text of amendment:
To reduce document fraud, prevent identity theft, and preserve the integrity of the Social Security system, by ensuring that persons who receive an adjustment of status under this bill are not able to receive Social Security benefits as a result of unlawful activity.
Reference: Preclusion of Social Security Credits; Bill S.Amdt.3985 to S.2611 ; vote number 2006-130 on May 18, 2006

Voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship.

This amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act would prohibit H-2C nonimmigrants ("Guest Workers") from adjusting to lawful permanent resident status. Voting YEA on the motion to table (which would kill the amendment) indicates supporting a path to citizenship for guest workers. Voting NAY on the motion indicates opposing any path to citizenship. The amendment says:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, an alien having nonimmigrant status is ineligible for and may not apply for adjustment of status.''
Reference: Kyl Amendment to Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act; Bill S.Amdt.3969 to S.2611 ; vote number 2006-135 on May 18, 2006

Voted YES on allowing more foreign workers into the US for farm work.

Vote to create a national registry containing names of U.S. workers who want to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work, and to require the Attorney General to allow more foreign workers into the U.S. for farm work under H-2A visas.
Reference: Bill S.2260 ; vote number 1998-233 on Jul 23, 1998

Voted YES on visas for skilled workers.

This bill expanded the Visa program for skilled workers.
Status: Bill Passed Y)78; N)20; NV)2
Reference: The American Competitiveness Act; Bill S. 1723 ; vote number 1998-141 on May 18, 1998

Voted YES on limit welfare for immigrants.

This amendment would have restored food stamp benefits to the children of legal immigrants
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)59; N)41
Reference: Motion to table Kennedy Amdt #429; Bill S.947 ; vote number 1997-111 on Jun 24, 1997

Sponsored comprehensive immigration reform, without amnesty.

Brownback introduced for comprehensive immigration reform without amnesty

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. McCAIN: This bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform legislation is designed to fix our Nation's broken immigration system. While in previous years we worked independently on immigration reform legislation, we are coming together today to introduce what we believe is groundbreaking, comprehensive legislation. Over a year ago, the President laid out a framework for what comprehensive immigration reform should look like. We have used the President's framework to craft this package.

The simple fact is that America's immigration system is broken. Recent vigilante activities along the southwestern border have shown that the current situation is not sustainable. Americans are frustrated with our lack of border security and our inability to control illegal immigration.

Make no mistake, this is not an amnesty bill. We are not here to reward law-breakers, and any accusations to the contrary are patently untrue. This bill recognizes the problems inherent in the current system and provides a logical and effective means to address these problems. It would be impossible to identify and round up all 10 to 11 million of the current undocumented, and if we did, it would ground our Nation's economy to a halt. These millions of people are working. Aliens will not come forward to simply "report and deport." We have a national interest in identifying these individuals, incentivizing them to come forward out of the shadows, go through security background checks, pay back taxes, pay penalties for breaking the law, learn to speak English, and regularize their status. Anyone who thinks this goal can be achieved without providing an eventual path to a permanent legal status is not serious about solving this problem.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on the Judiciary; never came to a vote. [The famous McCain-Kennedy legislation which DID come to a vote was the 2007 version of this bill].

Source: Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (S.1033/H.R.2330) 05-S1033 on May 12, 2005

Rated 33% by USBC, indicating a mixed record on open borders.

Brownback scores 33% by USBC on immigration issues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 USBC scores as follows:

About USBC (from their website, www.usbc.org):

U.S. Border Control, founded in 1988, is a non-profit, tax-exempt, citizen's lobby. USBC is dedicated to ending illegal immigration by securing our nation's borders and reforming our immigration policies. USBC [works with] Congressmen to stop amnesty; seal our borders against terrorism and illegal immigration; and, preserve our nation's language, culture and American way of life for future generations.

Our organization accepts no financial support from any branch of government. All our support comes from concerned citizens who appreciate the work we are doing to seal our borders against drugs, disease, illegal migration and terrorism and wish to preserve our nation's language, culture and heritage for the next generations.

Source: USBC website 06n-USBC on Dec 31, 2006

Other governors on Immigration: Sam Brownback on other issues:

KS Senatorial:
Chad Taylor
Greg Orman
Jerry Moran
Milton Wolf
Pat Roberts
Todd Tiahrt

Election 2013:
NJ-R: Chris Christie (won)
NJ-D: Barbara Buono (lost)
VA-R: Bob McDonnell(Retiring)
VA-R: Ken Cuccinelli (lost)
VA-D: Terry McAuliffe (won)

Gubernatorial Debates 2014:
AL: Bentley(R) vs.Griffith(D)
AR: Ross(D) vs.Hutchinson(R) vs.Griffin(R,Lt.Gov.)
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Contact info:
Fax Number:
202-228-1265
Mailing Address:
Senate Office SH-303, Washington, DC 20510
Phone number:
(202) 224-6521

Page last updated: Aug 16, 2014