Jeff Flake on Immigration

Republican Representative (AZ-6); Senate challenger


Was part of bipartisan Gang of Eight on immigration reform

On Capitol Hill, Flake also was a leading conservative proponent for comprehensive immigration reform. Shortly after winning a Senate seat, he joined the bipartisan "Gang of Eight," which in 2013 collaborated on a plan to increase border security and establish a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country at the time. Those efforts were unsuccessful.
Source: Arizona Republic on 2021 Ambassadorial Confirmation Hearing , Jul 13, 2021

Replace family separation with monitored release

Q: You've co-sponsored a bill that would allow families to be detained beyond 20 days. Many of your colleagues argue that is inhumane.

FLAKE: That's a House bill [that allows longer detention with family separation]. I think the Flores decision will stand [disallowing holding children in custory]. And so I think another solution has to come.

Q: Aren't you working with Senator Tillis on legislation that will allow families to be held beyond 20 days?

FLAKE: Oh, yes, I'm sorry; [there's also] House legislation. With the Tillis legislation, we envision some other form like monitored release, with ankle bracelets. Case management is still difficult, but it's far better than indefinite detention of families because some of these cases can go for a long time.

Q: And are you fairly certain that the courts will strike down the president's executive order [allowing family separation]?

FLAKE: Yes, yes.

Q: So what happens next?

FLAKE: I mean, Congress has to fix this

Source: ABC This Week 2018 interviews of 2020 hopefuls , Jun 24, 2018

Extend DACA for 3 years; $7.6B for 3-year border security

U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protections for three years and provide $7.6 billion to fully fund the first three years of the administration's border security proposal. With the program deadline fast approaching, this bill will provide a temporary solution for the thousands of DACA recipients facing potential deportation.

"I'll be the first to admit this 'three-for-three' approach is far from a perfect solution, but it would provide a temporary fix by beginning the process of improving border security and ensuring DACA recipients will not face potential deportation," said Flake. "The Senate may not have been able to deliver a permanent solution to these problems, but we cannot abdicate the responsibility of Congress to solve them. There are many people whose lives and well-being depend on our ability to deliver meaningful results."

Source: Press Release on 2018 North Dakota Senatorial campaign , Feb 27, 2018

Get rid of visa lottery & chain migration

Q: The President tweeted this morning on immigration: "I as president want people coming into our country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on merit. No more lotteries, America first." Your response?

FLAKE: Well, in this compromise, we do get rid of the visa lottery program. But we allocate those visas to a couple of different programs, like TPS or temporary protected status. But there is broad agreement to get rid of the visa lottery. There's also agreement between us, the Republicans and the Democrats, that we do get rid of chain migration as it relates to the covered population. Those who benefit from this DACA bill will not be able to use chain migration to become citizens. We just don't do it for everybody, like the president wants to do. If we want a comprehensive bill, I'm all in.

Source: ABC This Week 2018 interviews of 2020 hopefuls , Jan 14, 2018

Revamp guest-worker programs; it fails our needs

The focus of the debate was on rural issues, including migrant workers. The moderators asked Flake and Carmona where they stood on guest-worker programs. "We do need to revamp it," Flake said. "We simply don't have a program that's robust enough to take care of the needs that we have."

Carmona said comprehensive immigration reform should include visas, day-worker programs "that don't impede commerce but actually enhance commerce." They both agreed that border security needs to be stepped up..

Source: KYMA-TV-11 on 2012 Arizona "Rural Issues" Senate debate , Oct 26, 2012

Replicate operational security from Yuma Sector

Q: What about immigration reform?

A: On the border, we have now--and have had for a couple of years--operational security in the Yuma Sector. If we can just get the Tucson Sector to look like the Yuma Sector, then we have some political space where people will say, alright, let's solve the other attendant issue--employer-enforcement issues, some mechanism to deal with those who are here illegally now, some robust temporary-worker plan that can account for the labor needs we have, particularly in the ag sector, and then some way to deal with those issues like kids who were brought here when they were 2 years old and can't finish school. Those are all issues we're going to have to deal with. But I can tell you, it's a dead end until we can get better border security. Until then, we're just not going to get there.

Q: What does "there" look like?

A: It looks like the Yuma Sector. If somebody crosses illegally, we have a reasonable expectation of catching them.

Source: The Sahuarita Sun on 2012 Arizona Senate debates , May 29, 2012

Secure the border; then comprehensive reform

Q: You've been a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform in the past, but you've since come out in favor of securing the border before undertaking other reforms. Why?

A: We have to have comprehensive reform. But those of us who have pursued it have realized that that is a dead-end. We have beat our heads against the wall for a long time. And until we have a more secure border, nobody's going to trust the federal government to move on with the other elements of comprehensive reform.

Q: What about opposition among many Latinos to S.B. 1070?

A: Well, one thing I can tell you is Arizonans are incensed when the president tries to sue the state for trying to do the job that the federal government just won't do. But it's not just rounding up those who are illegal that's the issue; that hasn't been the problem. It's what do you do when you've got them. What do you do to have a humane but effective policy to adjudicate the cases that are already here. And that's the bigger issue.

Source: Washington Post "Ten Questions" 2012 Arizona Senate debate , May 2, 2012

SB1070 was imprudent & unconstitutional, but let it stand

Q: Was S.B. 1070 a bill you supported?

A: Well, I was at the federal level when it was passed here. And I made comments when it was initially passed--the first version that they put out had some language that could be construed as unconstitutional, certainly. And I said at that time that that was imprudent. And then, the legislature went back in and removed that offending provision. But I've just never been able to get excited about SB 1070, because I've known that that hasn't been the issue. We're able to find those who are here illegally easily enough. It's, what do you do when you've got them?

Q: What action should the Supreme Court take on S.B. 1070?

A: I hope they let it stand. I think all Arizonans are incensed when the federal government tries to sue the state for doing what they simply failed to do. So, I hope they let it stand, but when they do, they'll quickly realize that that was not the issue. The bigger issue is what do you do with a population that's already here?

Source: Washington Post "Ten Questions" 2012 Arizona Senate debate , May 2, 2012

Most illegal aliens from Mexico have ties to drug cartels

The situation along the border has changed significantly. In years past, groups of illegal aliens crossing the southern border tied to drug or smuggling cartels were the exception to the rule. Today, such ties are the rule. The lawless situation in northern Mexico largely driven by drug cartels is fueling lawlessness north of the border. Such a situation calls for an exclusive focus on border security.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, jeffflake.com, "Issues" , Jul 16, 2011

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 two-layered reinforced fencing, and for the rest of the border provides a virtual fence, via integrated surveillance technology.

Opponents support voting NO because:

Just to build the fence is going to cost us at least $7 billion. Where is the money coming from to pay for it? How much is it going to cost to maintain this 700-mile fence? Who is going to do it? This bill contains no funding.

This bill also ignores real enforcement measures, like hiring more Border Patrol personnel, and instead builds a Berlin Wall on our southern border. So long as employers need workers in this country, and while our immigration systems impede rather than facilitate timely access of willing workers to those opportunities, undocumented immigration will never be controlled.

Walls, barriers, and military patrols will only force those immigrants to utilize ever more dangerous routes and increase the number of people who die in search of an opportunity to feed and clothe their families.

Reference: Secure Fence Act; Bill H R 6061 ; vote number 2006-446 on Sep 14, 2006

Voted YES on preventing tipping off Mexicans about Minuteman Project.

Voting YES on this amendment supports the Minuteman Project, a group of volunteers who have taken on surveillance of the Mexican border for illegal immigrants. The amendment states that US funds will not be used to tell the Mexican government about the whereabouts of the Minuteman Project volunteers. Proponents of the Minuteman Project say that they are volunteer citizens doing what the federal government SHOULD be doing, but has failed to do. Opponents of the Minuteman Project say that they are vigilantes at best and anti-Mexican racists at worst. The amendment states:
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide a foreign government information relating to the activities of an organized volunteer civilian action group, operating in the State of California, Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona, unless required by international treaty.
Reference: Department of Homeland Security appropriations; Bill HR 5441 Amendment 968 ; vote number 2006-224 on Jun 6, 2006

Voted NO on reporting illegal aliens who receive hospital treatment.

Vote to pass the bill that would require hospitals to gather and report information on possible illegal aliens before hospitals can be reimbursed for treating them. The bill would also make employers liable for the reimbursements if an undocumented employee seeks medical attention, unless the employer meets particular conditions for exemption. The bill would specify that hospitals aren't required to provide care to undocumented aliens if they can be transported to their home country without a significant chance of worsening their condition.
Reference: Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments; Bill HR 3722 ; vote number 2004-182 on May 20, 2004

Voted YES on extending Immigrant Residency rules.

Vote on motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill that would extend by four months a law allowing some immigrants to remain in the country while pursuing legal residency.
Reference: Motion sponsoerd by Gekas, R-PA; Bill HR1885 ; vote number 2001-127 on May 21, 2001

Rated 100% by FAIR, indicating a voting record restricting immigration.

Flake scores 100% by FAIR on immigration issues

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, non-profit, public interest membership organization of concerned citizens united by their belief in the need for immigration reform. Founded in 1979, FAIR believes that the U.S. can and must have an immigration policy that is non-discriminatory and designed to serve the environmental, economic, and social needs of our country.

FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interestómore traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.

With more than 70,000 members nationwide, FAIR is a non-partisan group whose membership runs the gamut from liberal to conservative.

The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: FAIR website 03n-FAIR on Dec 31, 2003

Sponsored comprehensive immigration reform, without amnesty.

Flake 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 67% by USBC, indicating a mixed record on open borders.

Flake scores 67% 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

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