AMERICA'S VOICE RESEARCH ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

Republican & Conservative Movement Leaders Support Immigration Reform

Published: 08/01/2013

Updated September 13, 2013

Republican & Conservative Movement Leaders Support Immigration Reform

Since the 2012 election, leading Republican and conservative voices are calling for a new Republican approach to immigration, as evidenced by the following quotes:

Republican Elected Officials

  • Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), wrote in an op-ed, “Everybody agrees that America’s immigration system is broken, threatening our security and holding back our economy… For too long, politicians on both sides of the aisle in Washington have failed to lead on this issue. And no doubt there will be naysayers in this debate who will continue to make excuses for inaction. But I ran for the Senate to make tough, independent decisions to strengthen our country, and that’s what it will take to solve our nation’s immigration problems… After careful review of this bill, and after meeting with Granite Staters, I will support it and plan to vote for amendments offered to strengthen it…But the broken immigration system we have now is unworthy of a great nation. It’s time for Washington to tackle this problem head on.”
  • Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), said in an interview on CBS News’ Face the Nation, “Our immigration system is completely broken; we’ve got 11 million people living in this country illegally and in the shadows. We have a legal immigration system that isn’t meeting our needs to grow the economy. And so I looked at this carefully, this is a thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem and so that’s why I’m going to support it.”
  • Senator Tom Berryhill (R-CA) said at a news conference of republican law makers supporting immigration reform, “For Congress to put off once again enacting a policy that allows a reasonable path to citizenship for a group of people that contribute so much to the California economy is just wrong.”
  • Senator Anthony Cannella (R-CA) said at a news conference of republican law makers supporting immigration reform, “I don’t think it politically helps us at all. You cannot erase 20 years of ignoring an issue with, you know, a year or a few months of getting on the right side.”
  • Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) highlighted the importance of passing an immigration bill, “From a political point of view, if this bill fails because the Republican Party doesn’t seem to have been practical, doesn’t seem to have been willing to admit that 11 million people are here and they’re not going to self-deport, we’ll pay a heavy price in 2016… It will be almost impossible.”
  • Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Meet the Press, “I think we are going to have a political breakthrough…Congress is going to pass immigration reform I think we are going to get plus-70 votes. I have never been more optimistic about it.”
  • Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on November 18th, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.  He keeps digging.  The Hispanic community, 71 percent voted for President Obama, and they’re all disappointed in President Obama.  There’s high unemployment among the Hispanic community.  President Obama did not embrace comprehensive immigration reform like he promised.  But they voted for him because he’s a lesser of two evils.  Self deportation being pushed by Mitt Romney hurt our chances.  We’re in a death spiral with Hispanic voters because of rhetoric around immigration.  And candidate Romney and the primary dug the hole deeper.”
  • Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CQ, “I don’t like the European model of having millions of people in our country who can’t assimilate. It’s just not good for the culture. It’s just not good policy.”
  • Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the Wall Street Journal, “Any time you’ve been knocked down as a person and life kind of throws you a curve ball; it certainly puts you in a position of understanding. I don’t think you have to have much of a stretch as a human being to understand that the illegal immigrant life is a tough life.”
  • Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the Easley Rotary Club, “When it comes to immigration reform, now is the time. I’ve never seen a better political environment.” He also discussed his belief that the GOP’s stance on immigrants cost them heavily in the 2012 election. “On the Republican side, we went from 44 percent of the Hispanic vote under President Bush in 2004 down to 27 (percent).  That is not growth. And you’ll never convince me it’s not because of the rhetoric around the immigration debate. I don’t think Hispanics see us as not conservative enough. I think we’ve created a wall between ourselves and the Hispanic community based on word choices, more than anything else. But that’s a political problem,” he continued, “I’m not doing immigration reform to solve the Republican Party’s political problem. I’m trying to save our nation from, I think, a shortage of labor and a catastrophic broken system.”
  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT): When asked if he would be “willing to negotiate on a comprehensive bill that included a pathway to citizenship,” Senator Hatch told The Hill, “Everything ought to be on the table…There are a lot of very important legal considerations that have to be made, but I’ve always been empathetic towards resolving this problem one way or the other.”
  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told the Utah state legislature, “If we provide a pathway for people who come into our country illegally … most of us believe they have got to go to the back of the line just like everybody else and play by the rules.  We have to solve this problem.”
  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said, “I think most people have come to the conclusion that we have 11 million people here who are not going to go back to their countries, many of whom are children who have never known their prior country. There’s got to be a fair system that gives these people some opportunity to become good substantial citizens.”
  • Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) said he expects out of the border security proposal, “What we’re shooting for is something that will have broad public support and should engender strong bipartisan support in the Senate…That’s going to be important not only in the Senate, but also in terms of what the House does and ultimately getting a bill.”
  • Senator Ron Johnson(R-WI) said on Fox News Sunday about the state of immigration, “We have to fix this system because it’s not good for anybody.”
  • Senator Mark Kirk (IL-R) originally voted against the initial measure to bring the bill to the floor but is now ready to support it after submitting his amendment said, “This bipartisan compromise will restore the people’s trust in our ability to control the border and bring 525,000 people in Illinois out of the shadows.”
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told reporters after leaving the senate floor, “We will be doing whatever we can to convince our colleagues in a respectful manner. …All I can say is that maybe they ought to look back at what happened in 2012 and 2008 with the Hispanic voters and then maybe they ought to reevaluate what they are saying,” he said. “There’s plenty of issues that separate Republicans and Democrats but … 70, 80 percent, depending on which polls you judge by, are in favor of what we’re trying to do. …“I am confident the will of the American people will finally prevail.”
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said after a town hall meeting in Arizona, “I’m asking you to consider that we have an unacceptable situation as it is today and we need to all work together no matter where we are in the political spectrum to try to resolve this issue.”
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in an interview with Newsmax, “Overwhelmingly, the American people want us to act. Now there’s varying opinions as to how they want us to act, but they sure want us to act because almost every American knows that 11 million people living in the shadows is not what America’s supposed to be all about.”
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, “There’s a sense of urgency in the Republican Party for obvious reasons, and I’m sure that everybody’s ready to deal…”  Additionally, Sen. McCain tweeted on Nov. 9th, “I agree with the calls for comprehensive immigration reform.”
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said on Fox News Sunday, “We have to have a bigger tent. No doubt about it. And obviously we have to do immigration reform…There is no doubt whatsoever that the demographics are not on our side.”
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) writes in an Arizona Capitol Times op-ed: “Immigration and border security remain critical issues that I am committed to addressing this year.  The good news is that illegal immigration is at an all-time low, making now the time to dedicate the needed technology and resources to finally secure the border for good.  As border security improves, I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner to fix our broken immigration system and address the millions of people living in the United States outside of legal status.
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told Politico about the prospects for immigration reform, “I’ve been trying for a long time, and I think maybe now that the climate is such that we can be successful… I’ve always felt that comprehensive reform is the way to go, and I think I was right.”
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said on ABC’s “This Week,” “We can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status. We cannot forever have children who were born here — who were brought here by their parents when they were small children to live in the shadows, as well… What’s changed, honestly, is that there is a new appreciation on both sides of the aisle, maybe more importantly on the Republican side, that we need to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill.”
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said at a Politico breakfast: “If you have a large bloc of Americans who believe you’re trying to keep their … fellow Hispanics down and deprive them of an opportunity, obviously that’s going to have an effect…The Republican Party has failed to understand to a significant degree the importance of this issue to our Hispanic voters.  I think the trend will continue of lack of support from Hispanic voters and also as you look at the demographics of states like mine, that means we will go from Republican to Democrat over time.”
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ), in a March 6 interview with the Wall Street Journal, stressed that, while it’s true immigrants committed a crime by coming to the U.S. illegally, it doesn’t mean they should be punished indefinitely. “There’s very few of us that haven’t done something illegal at some point in our lives,” Mr. McCain said. “We pay the fine or do whatever it is and then we move on.”
  • Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told the New York Times, “If you’re from Arizona and you’re not involved in trying to fix the immigration problem, then it’s tough to say you’re representing your state…You ought to be involved. I understand that some people don’t agree with the direction I want to go, but you’ve got to be involved.”
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said in an interview with the Republic, “I grew up working alongside migrant labor, mostly from Mexico, undocumented. I’ve seen what motivates people to come here, and I’ve seen how hard they work for a better life. I’ve never been able to place them all in a criminal class… I’ve been pursuing this for a lot longer than that’s been an issue at the forefront, but that’s certainly the case… That’s not the primary reason to pursue it, but it’s certainly true we’ve got to do better reaching out.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY): Tea Party-allied Senator Paul told POLITICO he is working on an immigration plan, saying, “I want to show what conservatives would or can accept…If we assimilate those who are here, however they got here — don’t make it an easy path for citizenship.  There would be an eventual path, but we don’t make anybody tomorrow a citizen who came here illegally.  But if they’re willing to work, willing to pay taxes, I think we need to normalize those who are here.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said in Politico, “I’m in favor of telling the 11 million people who are here, if you’re willing to work, we’re willing to find a way to normalize your presence here…Whether normalize means citizenship, I think depends on whether or not we’re going to have a secure border…I’m not sure the politics of this are really simple, or I know exactly what the politics of this are, particularly in a primary — I’m not sure it makes that much a difference…In a general election, I think, obviously we do need to show the Latino public that we are concerned about their status.” According to the recap by Politico: “Paul added that viewpoints have ‘changed dramatically’ since 2007.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) writes in a Washington Times op-ed, “I share the goal of a working immigration system, and a new approach to allowing those here in our country who want to work and stay out of trouble to stay here. But I will not repeat the mistakes of the past when vague promises were made and not kept. Would I hope that when they become citizens, these new immigrants will remember Republicans who made this happen?  Yes.  But my support for immigration reform comes not from political expediency but because it’s the right thing to do.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said in his State of the Union tea-party rebuttal speech, “We are the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future…We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities. We must be the party that says, ‘If you want to work, if you want to become an American, we welcome you.’”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said, “The Republican Party has insisted for years that we stand for freedom and family values. I am most proud of my party when it stands for both … Republicans need to give birth to a new attitude toward immigrants, an attitude that sees immigrants as assets not liabilities,”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, “Prudence, compassion and thrift all point us toward the same goal: bringing these workers out of the shadows and into becoming and being taxpaying members of society.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, “I have never met a new immigrant looking for a free lunch. We should be proud that so many want to come to America. … We should make it a land of legal work, not black-market jobs, work and not welfare. Our land should be one of assimilation, not hiding in the shadows.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), as reported by NBC News: “I’m the bridge between people who won’t consider it at all to people who want it…I’m in the middle such that I’ll vote for it if I think it’ll do the right job and it creates border security, doesn’t create a new pathway to citizenship, and allows people to get in an existing line, the same way someone in Mexico City would get in line…So I think there’s a lot of room for me to help the bill, but we’ll see.”
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said at The Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum, “It’s really hard to get people to listen to you on economic growth, on tax rates, on health care, if they think you want to deport their grandmother…Policy matters too, but rhetoric is important.  You need to understand that we’re speaking about human beings…The issue of these kids that are in this country undocumented is not an immigration issue, it’s a humanitarian one.”
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) as reported by Sun Sentinel, “I won’t abandon this issue until it’s done, until we get a bill passed.”
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said he will see the immigration bill to the end, “I won’t abandon this issue until it’s done, until we get a bill passed.”
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) laid out his immigration principles in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “They would have to come forward. They would have to undergo a background check…They would be fingerprinted…They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove they’ve been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country…They’d get behind everybody who came before them [in line for citizenship].”
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) stressed the importance of getting a vote from Orrin Hatch on the immigration bill, “I think it would be critical to getting him on board … I think he is someone that people around here trust and admire tremendously and I think it would be a huge asset. I think it would be one of the biggest steps forward toward passage that we can achieve.”  
  • Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) told Politico regarding former Minority Leader Trent Lott in 2007: “[it] may have hastened his move to the private sector because there was such an outpouring of bitter criticism…The result, if this is successful, will not be much different from what Sen. Lott and others were trying to enact back then…It may be that we are all just older and wiser.”
  • Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said to members of a local chamber of commerce in his home state: “I do feel immigration will probably be dealt with as long as [the solution] doesn’t provide amnesty.”
  • Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) as reported by ABC news, “By establishing a path forward towards earned legal status, millions of people currently living in the shadows can understand what they and their family members need to do live here legally, plan for the future, and join in the fabric of American society,”
  • Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said “We need to remain a nation that doesn’t just welcome but that celebrates legal immigrants…I am a full-throated advocate of legal immigration. I have two amendments to expand the levels of legal immigration, to make this system work better, which has the added benefit of decreasing the demand for illegal immigration.”
  • Speaker of the House  John Boehner (R-OH) said in an interview on Good Morning America is not ruling out putting the immigration bill on the House floor, “We’re walking ourselves through a process with the Judiciary Committee, that I think will certainly yield a product we expect to bring to the floor…We’ve got a bipartisan group that’s had very fruitful conversations, and I think we’re likely to see soon some of their work. Reforming our immigration system is an important project of this Congress. We’ve got big problems that have gone on far too long. And it’s time for us to address them.”
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said to ABC News regarding immigration reform, “This issue has been around far too long…A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself and others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), as reported by the Los Angeles Times, “Making the process of becoming a legal immigrant fairer and more efficient will help America remain a magnet for the brightest minds and hardest workers,”
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) during a question and answer session at the conservative Ripon Society: “I said it the day after the election. I meant it, and we’re going to have to deal with it…I think there’s a bipartisan group of members that have been meeting now for three or four years. Frankly, I think they basically have an agreement. I’ve not seen the agreement. I don’t know all the pitfalls in it, but it’s in my view, the right group of members.”
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) voiced support for the Gang of Eight immigration reform effort: “Primarily, I’m in the camp of, if we fix our immigration system, it may actually help us understand who all’s here, why they’re here and what legal status they have.”
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)’s office: A Cantor aide told the Wall Street Journal, “We understand that we can’t keep kicking this can down the road…We’re going to address the 11 million people,” referring to the components of a future immigration reform bill.
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) when probed about the DREAM Act by a group of reporters after a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, “One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home.”
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) reiterated his support for the DREAM Act during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “The best place to begin, I think, is with the children. Let’s go ahead and get that under our belt, put a win on the board.”
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) applauded the joint release of immigration principles by the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce, saying in a statement, “I applaud the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO for coming together to find common ground in an effort to reform our broken immigration system…Their goal of protecting American workers and ensuring we have the workforce we need to grow the economy and remain globally competitive is one I share. While we may not agree on every aspect, it is encouraging that two groups often on opposite sides of the aisle are serious about putting politics aside and finding solutions. Let’s hope we can follow that lead in the months ahead.”
  • House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said regarding immigration reform, particularly how to address undocumented children, “What you then have to address is the 11 million that are here considered illegal, I personally believe if you came here as a child, that’s different…This is your country. You have no other place to go to.”
  • House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said “I wouldn’t underestimate the House’s ability to pass the immigration bill…I think we have plenty of ideas on that, and I think there’s an opportunity that we can move the ball as well.”
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Paul Ryan says the Senate’s advancement of stronger border security provisions makes it more likely that immigration reform will pass the House and become law.  The House “will do its own legislation,” Ryan said, and won’t take up the Senate bill if it is passed this week. But the Wisconsin Republican said the stronger border measures the Senate advanced Monday are more in line with the views of House Republicans.  “The majority of Republicans support the border security.” Monday’s Senate advancement of a provision doubling the number of border patrol agents and calling for hundreds of miles of new fencing along the border with Mexico “helps make this final passage even more likely,”
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) , said at a town hall meeting “Immigration is a good thing for this country…We want to give people an ability to come out of the shadows and get themselves right with the law.”
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) posted on Facebook in response to Sen. Rubio’s plan, “I support the principles he’s outlined: modernization of our immigration laws; stronger security to curb illegal immigration; and respect for the rule of law in addressing the complex challenge of the undocumented population. Our future depends on an immigration system that works.”
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told The Hill that he supports the legislation the House hopes to introduce this month reported. “I do support what they’re doing… I think they put out a good product. It’s good policy.”
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “I’ve longed believed in immigration reform,” he said, “and I think there are other Republicans who do so as well.  That’s an area where Democrats have to ask themselves: Do we want law to fix the problem, or are we just looking for a political issue?  And I think there are a lot of good legislators on the other side of the aisle who really, really want to fix this problem, and so I’m encouraged by that.”
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said in response to the immigration portion of President Obama’s State of the Union speech: “I thought that was pretty productive. I think when you have, when you’re in the legislative arena and we’re trying to get a comprehensive bipartisan agreement here, the words he uses matter and he used what I thought was a measured tone that gives me a sense that he is trying to get something done, so he use measured words that were productive with immigration and I think that’s an area we have a good chance of getting something done.”
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), in a joint press conference with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), said “If anything, this is an argument for modernizing our immigration laws. We need it for national security reasons. We need it for the economy.” He added, “We have an opportunity to have a real long-term solution. We do not want to have a society where we have different classes of people who cannot reach their American dream by not being a full citizen.”
  • Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), told the Daily Beast: “Of all the issues we are facing, immigration is the one I feel the most secure about…Everybody knows the system is broken and needs to be fixed…I see the political planets aligning in a way that leads me to believe we will get this done. It may take the bulk of summer, but we’re shooting to have a bill on the president’s desk sometime in August.”
  • Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) said in an interview with a conservative radio host, “What about those folks who have been here 25 years? They have families here and kids…what do you do with those people?…I want them to pay a fine, there’s some penalties they have to through, steps that they are gonna go through. I want to hold them accountable and then they get citizenship and pay taxes.”
  • Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Il.) said he supports immigration reform at a town hall meeting, “I think when that happens … and they haven’t violated any laws and they have been here on a probationary period, then they can apply for citizenship and go to the back of the line,”
  • Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, “We’re a nation of immigrants, there’s no question about that. But we’re also a nation of laws…I think we have to honor both of those.”
  • Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) said in an interview with Orlando Sentinel, “We’re a nation of immigrants, there’s no question about that. But we’re also a nation of laws. I think we have to honor both of those. I support them [local law enforcement] being part of the team that enforces whatever new laws dealing with immigration [that] we pass”
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, (R-Fl) said on CNN, “I think there’s the realization, particularly, by the Republican leadership that we have to get it done but, more importantly, we have to get it done right to protect the economy, to protect the rule of law, dealing with the folks that are here while not violating the rights of the folks who have done things legally. And obviously, in a way that’s thoughtful, responsible, and very clearly enforceable.”
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) said in an interview about push back on the senate bill, “There’s going to be pushback on everything, and that’s okay. I think what we have to do is try to come up with legislation based on basic principles, like protect the rule of law, help the economy, and our national security, and within that you have to have the components I told you about. And then see if you can put together a bill like that, that can receive bipartisan support.”
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said to the Los Angeles Times, “For too long, both parties have used immigration as a political wedge issue,” “But the time has come to find a bipartisan solution.”
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a longtime supporter for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, told the Los Angeles Times, “Piecemeal parts are better than nothing but [don't] solve the overall problem.”
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) told US News & World Report, “If I were a betting man, I would not vote against getting a bipartisan immigration deal.”
  • Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said to Politico, “I think we need to let people understand that we’re a party of inclusion, we need to let people understand that we want them, we welcome immigrants, and we welcome anybody who wants to join our party.”
  • Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told reporters, “What I think should happen is for illegal immigrants to come out of the shadows, become legalized in some way and that status could lead in someway to legal residency and citizenship eventually but just the same as everybody else.”
  • Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said at a Michigan town hall, “I don’t believe in creating second-class citizens. I think it would be unfair.”
  • Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “If we don’t do it right, politically it’s going to be the death of the Republican Party.”
  • Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) told his home state paper, The State, per their reporting, “the pathway to citizenship contained in the Senate version likely will remain, regardless of opposition from conservative congressmen.  ‘Once it leaves the House, I think it will be the Senate side that prevails,’ Sanford said Monday, adding he supports a path to citizenship after U.S. borders have been secured.”
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said during an on camera interview with Fox Business, “If we’re talking about bringing [undocumented workers] out of the shadows, and having a legal status I think there is a lot to discuss there. If we’re talking about a pathway to citizenship, I think the American people are going to want to learn a lot more about how we’re going to prevent this type of illegal immigration in the future.”
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told CSPAN, “I and other members are open-minded to the idea that they [undocumented immigrants] should have a way to come out of the shadows, to be able to work, to have their own businesses, to pay their taxes, to travel back and forth to their home country and elsewhere…All of those are ways that they could then eventually find themselves permanent residents and ultimately citizens, but none of those are special ways that have been made available only to people who are here illegally.”
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who has in the past opposed a pathway to citizenship, told reporters on February 27, “There’s a broad spectrum between deportation and an easy, special pathway to citizenship to find a way to bring people out of the shadows and give them a legal status that would allow them to be better able to participate in our society, and we should be focused there. Now once you have that status you can qualify like anyone else.”
  • Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) as reported by TexasGOPVote in a transcript on immigration, “I used to believe, I did, I believed the philosophy that if there’s an American out of work, they’ll take any, they’ll take any job, so that they’re employed, especially those that are families. Well, that’s just not true. It’s not true. There a lot of reasons that they’re not true. They don’t take those jobs. Some of them. Why? They have other options, that’s why. I’ll give you an example. I’m on the Immigration Subcommittee, I’m Vice Chairman, we had a hearing. And we brought in employers to help us see what the real world is like, not what we would want it to be like. And this guy is a peach farmer in Georgia, and he needed two thousand peach-pickers. I know that’s not true, but, what you call it, but, they pick peaches, you get the point. And so he did what he was supposed to do under the law, he got, he tried to get Americans to apply first, he gave them the first chance, and he needed two thousand he had 496 Americans apply. He hired every one of them. Hired them all. Then he filled the rest with migrant workers. After the first couple of weeks, from 496 he was down to about sixty. And then by the end of the season he had three, that were working.”
  • Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) lays out his principles for immigration reform in a Politico op-ed: “We should start a documentation process that includes a photograph, biometric data like a fingerprint and other identifying information. Documentation does not mean citizenship and all of the rights that the term bestows. It means a type of legal status, either temporary or permanent, for some that are here, and it also means a pathway home for those who are here to commit crimes. Those given legal status would contribute to the U.S., primarily by paying taxes, for the benefits that they enjoy by being in the U.S… The GOP’s core principles are sound, but it’s time for a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting. There is a perception among many Americans that the GOP has tried to exclude certain groups, such as Hispanics. Those days are over. We are the party of “we the people, by the people, for the people,” but we must work much harder and embrace a more publicly open-minded approach so that we are not “we the few.” Otherwise, the Republican Party will go the way of the Whigs.”
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) noted, “I think you have to find a synthesis between the humanity that I think defines us as a people, and the respect for the rule of law that defines us as a republic…Peoples’ desire to improve their lives resonates with me, no matter where they’re from.”
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said in a statement responding to the Senate gang of 8 framework, “The current immigration system is broken and inspires confidence in no one…proposals which balance the humanity which defines us as a people with respect for the rule of law which defines us as a republic are welcome.”
  • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-SD), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, endorsed the Senate immigration framework, which includes a path to citizenship.  According to US News & World Report’s Lauren Fox, Rep. Issa “told reporters Wednesday he can support a pathway to citizenship for some of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and that he actually prefers it to a plan that would create a second-class of citizens through alternative programs.”  Fox quotes Issa saying, “I support the framework that the bipartisan group of senators are working on…We have to remember the 11 million people who are here are people…[i]t’s what Abraham Lincoln would have said, it is what the Republican Party stands for.  It is the reason we have to get it right on who stays and who goes.”
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said at a news conference outside the capital, “It’s a conversation Republicans want to have.”
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said at a town hall meeting in his home district, “I want to fix legal immigration…I reject the Senate bill. It’s unconstitutional. I wouldn’t vote for it, but there are five bills in the house that we have supported. There should be a pathway to citizenship, not a special pathway and not no pathway, but there has to be a legal lawful way to go through this process that works and right now it doesn’t,”
  • Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) issued his support for citizenship for DREAM Act eligible youth and legal status for their parents at a forum in Colorado.  According to a report in the Denver Post, “U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman told a standing-room-only crowd of roughly 800 that he was in favor of legal status for illegal immigrants and a path to citizenship for their children.  Coffman, a Republican who has proposed anti-immigration legislation in the past, said his change in stance was personal because of interaction with various families.”
  • Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said in an interview after an immigration reform hearing ,”Every congressman and congresswoman always, I think, feels an attachment to their constituents, and quite frankly my constituents have dramatically changed,” he said in an interview after the hearing. “In my prior district, the only immigration problems I dealt with were kids going overseas who needed a visa. … It’s very different now. I gotta tell you it really breaks my heart to sit down with some of these people and they tell me what their day-to-day lives are like. I admit I’ve been moved by some of those stories.”
  • Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) described his shift in thinking about immigration to Politico: “My district dramatically changed. The district I had until last month, there wasn’t a significant Hispanic population, and with the population I had, immigration wasn’t a significant issue. In the district I have now, there is a significant Hispanic population. And meeting with those people really put a face on it.”
  • Rep. Jeff Denham (R- CA) told reporters, “I want to make sure that we’re addressing all aspects and having a full debate in front of the American people…I think part of the challenge is we’re talking about bits and pieces and not allowing the full debate to happen where people can engage in the overall discussion.”
  • Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said regarding the possibility of the immigration reform KIDS act, “I believe members across the aisle can unite and agree that providing them with some sort of relief is the fair thing to do,”
  • Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) said at a SXSW panel discussion in Nevada,  “When you first start off, everybody is concentrating on the issue of the undocumented, but as you start to peel back, like we have today with this panel, you realize there is a lot more to immigration reform than just that one piece…There’s a whole lot more underlying immigration reform that is critical to the future economy of our nation, whether it’s high-tech, whether it’s agricultural guest visas, whether it’s E-Verify to protect against worker exploitation. There are so many pieces to it. I wish that the discussion was always more comprehensive. Because then I think people would better understand that this truly is in our vital national and economic interests.”
  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) commented on the 100 female activists were arrested at the capitol, “Our nation can only be strengthened and reinvigorated by these hard-working individuals who have come to our country asking only to be allowed to succeed by their own efforts, a prospect that immigration reform will bring to them,”
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said, at a Heritage Foundation panel, that he was “willing to consider” a proposal that would allow illegal immigrants to eventually apply for citizenship.
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) as reported by the National Journal, when asked about the points of conflict for Republicans at the house immigration meeting, “What do you think? It’s about the 11 million. That’s always the issue.”
  • Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) said, voicing his support for Rand Paul’s shift towards embracing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, “We’re not going to round up millions and millions of people, kids and grandmas and grandpas and send them to wherever.” He added there were both “conservative arguments” and “emotional arguments” that should compel the House to address immigration.
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) said while visiting her district over recess, “I am willing to look at proposals for a pathway to legalization, to bring people out of the shadows.”
  • Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) said, at a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, “I support a pathway to citizenship because I don’t believe we should have a second class of citizens..everyone living in the United States should feel invested in the country.”
  • Rep. David Valadao(R-CA) wrote in an op-ed, “The Senate “Gang of Eight” had the foresight to develop serious reform in a comprehensive manner and avoid the bickering that results from piecemeal legislation. Responsible, long-term immigration reform requires a large fix, and will undoubtedly include significant compromise from everyone involved. It is time for the House to focus and dedicate itself toward passing substantive and comprehensive legislation… The Senate “Gang of Eight” had the foresight to develop serious reform in a comprehensive manner and avoid the bickering that results from piecemeal legislation. Responsible, long-term immigration reform requires a large fix, and will undoubtedly include significant compromise from everyone involved. It is time for the House to focus and dedicate itself toward passing substantive and comprehensive legislation.”
  • Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) said at the press conference by the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute on Thursday, “Immigration, to me, seems like it’s starting to be pushed back a little bit…We’re here to say we do not want that, we need to get involved, we need to make sure leadership does not forget about the importance of this issue.”
  • Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) told Politico: “We have to realize: We’re not going to deport 12 million people…It’s just not going to happen.”
  • Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM) said of Latino voters, “We need to embrace them not just at election time…We have to make them part of the solution, and the way you do that is by listening to them.” Gov. Martinez also said, “And it can be tackled without using the word amnesty…People can be in this country legally and contributing, and they can come here to do all kinds of jobs, not just jobs Americans don’t want, all kinds of jobs, get educated, the whole nine yards, but be here legally.”
  • Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) said of the Party’s immigration stance in the 2012 cycle, “Republican candidates this year did a lot of damage to the brand.”  Gov. Jindal also said, “If we want people to like us, we have to like them first…You don’t start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. We are an aspirational party.”
  • Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said at Politico’s third annual “State Solutions Conference,” “We just have a broken system. And to me, if somebody wants to come in and live the American dream and work hard … we should have a system that works and let’s people in…The vast majority of people want to come here for the right reasons. They want to live the American dream.”  He also endorsed a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million adding, “You’ve got to find a way to say that people who are in line right now have first preference.”
  • Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald editorial board, “It’s all is about the 11 million [undocumented immigrants]… You hear some people talk about border security and a wall and all that. To me, I don’t know that you need any of that if you had a better, saner way to let people into the country in the first place…If people want to come here and work hard in this country, I don’t care if you come from Mexico or Canada or Ireland or Germany or South Africa or anywhere else. I want them here.”
  • Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) told Sean Hannity, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to say every person who’s in this country illegally is going to go back to their country of origin, that’s not going to happen. But I don’t think … people who are here illegally should be able to cut the line in front of people who are doing the process the right way.”
  • Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) , said at a discussion with Republican Governors in Colorado, “You need to provide people with confidence that the system’s going to be fair and that means everybody…That doesn’t mean just American citizens, also those people who are here, the 11, 12 million you’re talking about. The fact is we have to be fair to them also…Allowing the system to continue in the broken way that it is now is negative for America’s economy and it’s also bad for these folks who now have had children in this country and some of them grandchildren in this country. And we’re not being fair to them either.”
  • Tom Donohue, President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a speech, “We need to provide a path out of the shadows for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the United States today — provided that they meet strict conditions.”

Conservative Pundits and Influencers

  • According to Time Magazine, a report published by the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project said, “We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only…If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence.”
  • Former President George W. Bush said, at a naturalization ceremony outside his presidential library, “The laws governing the immigration system aren’t working. The system is broken. We’re now in an important debate in reforming those laws. And that’s good. I don’t intend to get involved in the politics or the specifics of policy. But I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate, and I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind and we understand the contributions that immigrants make to our country.”
  • Pope Francis, during a trip to the Italian island of Lampedusa to mourn the deaths of a dozen migrants by a sunken boat, denounced the “globalization of indifference” to migrants and called their suffering “a painful thorn in my heart.” He added, “We have become used to the suffering of others… We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion.” 
  • Sean Hannity, influential conservative Fox News television and radio host said on his radio show Thursday that he has “evolved” on the issue and now supports a “pathway to citizenship.”  Hannity said, our nation needs to “get rid of the immigration issue altogether.”
  • Charles Krauthammer, conservative columnist and pundit writes, “In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry.  Romney could never successfully tack back.  For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural.  It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty.  Yes, amnesty.”
  • The Wall Street Journal editorial page:  The leading conservative editorial page in the nation has written a series of post-election editorials supporting sensible immigration reform such as this editorial from November 13th: “Belief in the immigrant story of aspiration and the U.S. as a land of opportunity have been core American values.  A party that rejects those beliefs distances itself from American exceptionalism, if we can borrow a word popular in conservative circles.” The paper also editorialized the day after the election on immigration and the GOP, writing of Mitt Romney, “His single worst decision may have been to challenge Texas Governor Rick Perry in the primaries by running to his right on immigration…The GOP needs to leave its anti-immigration absolutists behind.”
  • The Wall Street Journal editorial page:  The leading conservative editorial page urges conservatives to become more open-minded about immigration reform and voices their support for a path to citizenship: “House Speaker John Boehner’s job is to make sure those voices don’t carry the day. He and his colleagues face a fundamental choice: kill immigration reform, or try to pass constructive and pro-growth measures that have broad public and business support, including from millions of conservatives… Republicans should also be willing to debate and vote on the issue of legalizing 11 million illegal immigrants.We support this path to citizenship, and many House Republicans also claim to support it eventually, someday, just not as in the Senate bill. Mr. Boehner should challenge his Members to come up with the terms they would support, because the alternative is “self-deportation” that isn’t going to happen.  The dumbest strategy is to follow the Steve King anti-immigration caucus and simply let the Senate bill die while further militarizing the border. This may please the loudest voices on talk radio, but it ignores the millions of evangelical Christians, Catholic conservatives, business owners and free-marketers who support reform. The GOP can support a true conservative opportunity society or become a party of closed minds and borders.”
  • Carlos Gutierrez, former George W. Bush Commerce Secretary and Mitt Romney surrogate, announced the formation of a new Super PAC titled “Republicans for Immigration Reform.”  Said Gutierrez of the Republican Party and immigration, “If we get this right, the 21st century is ours.  If we get it wrong, shame on us.”  Gutierrez indicated that he hopes to use his PAC to avoid a repeat of the 2012 election cycle, which Gutierrez says led to Latino voters being “scared of the Republican Party…I think it has to do with our incredibly ridiculous primary process where we force people to say outrageous things, they get nominated and they have to come back.”
  • Carlos Gutierrez, former Commerce Secretary under President George W. Bush, said in an interview with the National Journal: “I still don’t know where ‘self-deportation’ came from. I think it was [New Mexico Gov.] Susana Martinez who talked him out of that. She said she didn’t even know what that means. Everyone quotes the polls that say immigration is not the top issue for Hispanics and that Hispanics are more attracted by an economic message. What people are missing in the psyche of Hispanics is that criticizing immigrants, whether they are undocumented or not, the language and the body language suggests to Hispanics that Republicans don’t like them.”
  • Carlos Gutierrez, former Commerce Secretary under President George W. Bush, told the Los Angeles Times, “The whole economy is suffering because we can’t grow without immigration.”
  • Evangelical leaders: 150 evangelical leaders support a renewed push for immigration reform. Leith Anderson, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals said, “This is the 21st century, and our immigration laws are from the 20th century.   It’s time to move on.”
  • Jim Wallis, head of the Christian social justice group Sojourners, said evangelical leaders have concluded that “we don’t believe there are second-class images of God, and therefore we don’t believe in a second-class status for people who are willing to follow an earned path to citizenship.”
  • Jim Wallis, head of the Christian social justice group Sojourners, wrote in his letter to lawmakers, “For those of us who are Christians, we must heed the direct commandment of Jesus to welcome the stranger. That is why evangelicals are praying for every member of the House and will continue to speak out publicly in support of Congress taking action.”
  • Richard Land, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Bloomberg, “Evangelicals have got to make it clear that if you speak up and support this, you will have substantial grassroots support” that would insulate Republican lawmakers from potential primary challengers based on immigration. “The landscape has changed on this.”
  • Reince Preibus RNC Chairman, said about republicans “Using the word ‘self-deportation’ — it’s a horrific comment to make…I don’t think it has anything to do with our party.  When someone makes those comments, obviously, it hurts us.”
  • Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the LDS Church’s governing First Presidency, told The Salt Lake Tribune in a brief interview as he left a meeting with other faith leaders and President Obama, “He just said in this value process we need to stand together and make sure the United States is still a place where people can come and, once they come, feel not at fear. And do it, of course, in a lawful way. He was talking about his principles and what he said was totally in line with our values.”
  • Jennifer Rubin, conservative blogger for the Washington Post, said on the measures introduced by Rubio and Hatch, “The political reality is that it is important to get as many R’s on board even if a few D’s defect. That is because some political momentum is needed to keep the bill moving forward in the House. Ultimately the final bill will have to get hashed out in a conference. But failure or a skin-of-the-teeth win in the Senate will undermine those in the House who actually want a deal.”
  • Jennifer Rubin, conservative blogger, wrote in the Washington Post, “The assumption that the GOP can never win Hispanic voters is so wrong. People change and the country changes … If parties don’t change, they die. And it is that fear of irrelevance that may be the best asset for Republican immigration reformers.”
  • Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post conservative blogger, wrote on November 19th, “It is interesting, however, that the arguments from the right opposing immigration reform, to be blunt, are so lame.  It only takes a few minutes thought to dispel some of the most frequently heard arguments against comprehensive immigration reform that includes a solution for the 11 million or so people already here illegally…”
  • Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post’s conservative political blogger, writes, “this is one issue in which starting small may be an error. ‘Comprehensive’ immigration reform got a bad name when last it went down the drain in 2007. But arguably the GOP and certainly the country has changed since then. If you are going to go to the trouble of devising a proposal and take on the anti-immigration forces to jump-start the process, it makes sense to go bold.  The 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States should be addressed in a GOP plan, understanding that one always wants to leave a little room for bargaining. But to try to sidestep that issue while border security, worksite enforcement, H1-B visas and other discrete issues are addressed is not realistic. Even if the GOP were to put out a plan with a time requirement (for example, focusing on anyone here longer than 15 years), the debate would get started in a meaningful way.  Republicans did nothing on health care for years at the national level. This allowed the Democrats to make it their issue and eventually gave us the abomination known as Obamacare. Immigration, if left to Democrats, will either become their issue permanently and a policy nightmare or, alternatively, an opportunity for conservative reformers to show they can govern effectively and realistically while hewing to conservative principles. All the GOP needs are real leaders to step up to the plate.”
  • Jennifer Rubin, Conservative Washington Post blogger, writes: “The echo chamber is loud in the GOP, but lawmakers who pay heed to it rather than to actual voters run the risk of being out of sync with the people who actually matter and the core of their party’s base. GOP governors, who are the most effective Republicans and most adept at reading their voters, get this. That is why so many of them support immigration reform. (Another reason might be that immigration reform can add substantially to state coffers without raising taxes on anyone.) The question is whether House Republicans are as keenly in touch with actual voters.”
  • Grover Norquist, conservative Americans for Tax Reform founder, said at an event hosted by the Atlantic, “There will be a strong Republican vote for this… This should be second nature for Republicans. Every day the Republican caucus is moving towards yes…This is going to play out.”
  • Grover Norquist, conservative Americans for Tax Reform founder, said in an interview with Newsmax TV, “The future of the Republican Party, all the different folks looking to lead the Republican Party at the national level in the future, recognize we should do immigration reform…It’s completely doable. It doesn’t take a lot of time… This is the year to vote.”
  • Grover Norquist, conservative activist, said, “Republicans should approach it as the party of Reagan and Bush — the party that has historically been pro-immigration”
  • Joe Scarborough on MSNBC questioned Romney’s decision to tack right in the GOP primaries on immigration, saying [Romney] “could have won the primary without going there…if he had gotten same percentage as John  of Hispanic votes, he’d be President-elect.”
  • Brit Hume of Fox News said on air, “the Republican Party’s going to have to ask itself if the hardline position that Mitt Romney assuredly took during the primary season to try to win this election — he took a hardline position on immigration — is in the long run a winning position for them.  Karl Rove and George H.W. Bush never thought so, and others don’t think so, as well. And so when they’re saying ‘Well, Mitt Romney wasn’t conservative enough’ as some certainly will say, you have to point to that issue as one that might be a short-term and a long-term loser for them, politically.”
  • George Will, conservative columnist and ABC News contributor said, [Romney] “came out against the DREAM Act, promising to veto it, and a few months after that he was using the language of ‘self-deportation,’ that is making life difficult enough for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country that they would deport themselves…It’s awfully hard to unring that bell.”
  • George Will, conservative columnist, appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” and told host George Stephanopoulos, “What we’re really arguing about is what to do about the 11 million illegal immigrants who are here already. And I think what we learned this week was any plan that does not envision as an end point citizenship for those is not going to work.”
  • Ana Navarro, Republican strategist, said on CNN: “If we don’t do better with Hispanics we’re going to be out of the White House forever.”  Navarro also tweeted, “Mitt Romney self-deported himself from the White House.”
  • Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, told TPM, about his friendship with famous undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas, “I think he has a unique and important perspective. When you look at a guy like Jose who graduated from high school, from college, who’s a taxpayer who loves this country as much as anybody, those aren’t the kind of people anyone wants to get rid of. They’re the kind of people we want in America.”
  • Jennifer Korn, executive director of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network, said, during a panel on immigration reform at CPAC, “What I would hope is that you help conservatives who are putting their neck on the line [to find a solution]. You can be conservative and you can be for immigration reform. I ask you to be part of the solution.”
  • Jennifer Korn, executive director of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network and former Director of Hispanic Affairs under President George W. Bush, told Politico, “We believe immigration reform is a conservative issue and we’re heartened to see a significantly improved dialogue and growing conservative support base.”
  • Ari Fleischer, former George W. Bush aide, said on CNN: “The big issue Republicans are going to have to wrestle with is the Hispanic issue…with immigration, the Republicans are going to have to figure out a different way forward.”
  • Brian Kilmeade, Fox News host, said “The problem is for Republicans, less and less white voters every year…we have got to talk about what the next four years will look like.  And i think immigration reform will be front and center.”
  • Fox News Chief Roger Ailes, told the New Republic, “I think the word ‘illegal immigration’ is a false name. We should all defend sovereignty, then take a Judeo-Christian approach to immigration. I don’t have any problem with a path to citizenship.”
  • John Feehery, a former aide to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, told the Atlantic, “This is the fight for the soul of the party… Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan get it. Ted Cruz doesn’t get it. It’s the defining struggle for the Republican Party, and right now the good guys are losing.”
  • John Weaver, former John McCain and Jon Huntsman strategist, said about the GOP and the need to get behind immigration reform: “We will not be a national governing party for a long, long time if we turn our backs on this chance to pass immigration reform. It’s just that simple,”
  • John Weaver, Republican strategist, tweeted on Election Night: “I said this then. I said this in the spring. In the summer. Biggest mistake was MR going hard right on immigration. Paying price.”
  • Rupert Murdoch, conservative media titan, tweeted on November 7th, “Must have sweeping, generous immigration reform, make existing law- abiding Hispanics welcome. Most are hard working family people.”
  • Mark McKinnon, former George W. Bush aide, said, “The best thing about Republicans losing is that it will likely force them to cut an immigration deal.”
  • Mark McKinnon, former aide to Republican President George W. Bush, on Morning Joe said that the looming demographic cliff is finally leading Republicans to engage on this issue: “I’m very encouraged about the prospects for immigration reform.  I think one of the good things about Republicans losing is it’s forcing them to the table on immigration reform.”
  • Colin Hanna, president of the conservative Let Freedom Ring non-profit, said, “I think that Republicans can more effectively articulate the twin goals of immigration reform that affirms the rule of law and compassion more effectively than the left.”
  • Whit Ayers, Republican pollster and advisor to Marco Rubio, as reported by the National Journal questioned House Republican’s choice to endorse Steve King’s amendment to end the DACA program, “There’s no way you can spin this as good… I have thought for some time that if there is going to be immigration reform, it will pass after very intense debate and very vocal opposition. I hope this is a baby step back.”
  • Whit Ayers, Republican pollster and advisor to Marco Rubio, said in an interview with the Washington Post “Our research has shown that roughly one third of Republican primary voters will never support a path to citizenship no matter what the conditions.  But two thirds will support a path to citizenship as long as the conditions are strict and rigorous… Our research has shown that Republican primary voters do not like having to deal with the issue of the presence of illegal immigrants in this country, but they recognize that the status quo is not good for the country, and that we need to try to craft something better. Once they wrestle with the issue, they end up supporting a range of options, such as increased border security, increased internal security, and a path to citizenship with strict conditions.”
  • Deputy Gill, an Arizona border patrol agent, as reported by the New York Times in an interview, “It’s hard…I stop these guys and they pull out their wallets. I see the pictures of their kids and I think about my own kids. I realize I’d probably do the exact same thing if the situation was reversed.” 
  • Lionel Sosa, Republican strategist who worked for George W. Bush and John McCain, said, “We don’t see that the electorate is changing and we need to make changes. The longer we send out messages that Latinos take some offense to, the longer it’s going got take us to recover the Latino vote.”
  • Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, at a forum hosted by the Harvard University Institute of Politics: “When asked directly whether Mr. Romney regretted tacking to the right on immigration to appeal to conservative primary voters, the room fell silent. Stuart Stevens, a senior strategist to Mr. Romney, shook his head no. But after pausing for several seconds, Mr. Rhoades said, ‘I regret that.’”
  • Mark Shurtleff, Republican Attorney General of Utah, said at a press conference on immigration, “We have been pandering…to a small minority of our party..Now is the time to get this done.”
  • Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman and top advisor to Mitt Romney’s campaign, said: “There’s a growing sense that this is an opportunity that should be taken…There’s no instinct like a survival instinct.”
  • Laura Ingraham, conservative radio show host, said on Fox News’ America Live that “the language of dealing with Latinos has to be changed” and that the GOP needs to “move to the center” on issues like immigration.
  • Danny Vargas, Republican strategist, told NBC Latino: “I’m probably a bit ‘pollyanaish,’ but I’m almost seeing immigration reform as a fait accompli; I think Republicans have seen the writing on the wall, and there has to be some immigration reform.”
  • Bill O’Reilly, conservative Fox News host, says about Sen. Rubio’s plan: “We all want fairness and I think your program is a good one.”
  • Bill O’Reilly, conservative Fox News host, said, “It is time for the U.S.A. to pass immigration reform… this bill does become law…It’s not perfect, but it’s the right thing to do.”
  • Bill O’Reilly, conservative Fox News host, said, per a recap in the Huffington Post, O’Reilly, “read an email from a woman named Nettie suggesting Congress should not move forward or make any concessions given the current administration. ‘When Hillary Clinton is elected president in 2016, will you say the same thing, Nettie? Because that’s what’s gonna happen if the GOP does not begin to put forth smart solutions to the country’s problems,’ O’Reilly said.  O’Reilly then critiqued an email from a viewer named Jim suggesting that new immigration laws wouldn’t be needed if the current ones were enforced.  ‘So that means federal agents will begin forcibly rounding up millions of illegal people, entering their homes and removing men, women, and children, taking them to holding pens, where they will be awaiting deportation. Is that your vision, Jim? Because that’s what enforcing existing laws would mean,’ he said.”
  • Jennifer Korn, Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network, told Roll Call, “All of the Hispanic groups, the agriculture groups, the religious groups are ready…What we had in 2007 was coalitions put together at the White House. Now these efforts are popping up organically.”
  • Terry Nelson, former national political director for President George W. Bush in 2004, told Roll Call, “I think that the Republican Party and political leaders have to think about how we have a constructive immigration policy for the millions of people who are here illegally, how we have a constructive immigration policy for those who want to come here and work, and how we talk about it in a more constructive way.”
  • Robert Gittelson, President of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, wrote in a February 25 blog for The Hill, “We, as a nation, are well past the time for the worn-out arguments perpetuated by the anti-immigration lobbyists. In closing, we agree that tone is an important element of this ongoing conversation, but the policy discussions about immigration reform go way beyond rhetoric. We must get the policy right, once and for all. America is the land of opportunity, and the shining city on the hill. We are the exceptional nation. We are also a Nation of immigrants. We must have an immigration policy that is as exceptional as our nation.”
  • According to Politico, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference calls on the House to pass “strict yet compassionate” legislation that would give immigrants living in the United States illegally “the dignity and earned right to pursue their dreams.”
  • Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission wrote, “A solution that respects the rule of law, treats undocumented immigrants in the nation compassionately, and provides them a tough, yet achievable, earned pathway to citizenship is necessary.”
  • Fred Malek, a longtime Republican fundraiser and co-founder of the American Action Network told Politico that with regard to Hispanic voters, the GOP is “increasingly viewed as intolerant and insensitive…We haven’t addressed immigration reform in an intelligent and sensitive way, and until we do we can forget about the Hispanic vote.”
  • According to Fox News Latino, Lisa Roper, Region 7 Vice President of The National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW), said in a press release, “As a Hispanic woman, I am incredibly proud that TFRW and NFRW are leading our party in addressing this important issue. Border security and enforcement will be crucial components of reform but we also recognize the need for reforms that will help our businesses grow and address the millions of children that grow up in our country as Americans but find the door closed to them when they become adults.”
  • Jeb Bush, former Republican governor of Florida, and Clint Bolick, vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute, lay out their principles for immigration reform in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: “Most immigrants come here to secure a better life for themselves and their families. They cherish the values of hard work, faith, family, enterprise and patriotism that have made this country great. Meanwhile, many who were lucky enough to have been born here have grown complacent or even disdainful of these values. America’s immigration system should provide opportunities for people who share the country’s core values to become citizens, thereby strengthening the nation as have countless immigrants have before them.”
  • Jeb Bush said on ABC’s “This Week,” “Sen. Graham and I talked.  He was responding to concerns that were expressed before the book was actually published.  I told him that I support his efforts and I applaud what he’s doing.  And he concluded, after he heard what the thesis of the book is that we’re in sync. We’re on the same — on the same path.”
  • Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on CBS’ “Face the Nation”: “I’d say Republicans had better listen very carefully to Marco Rubio…We also have to understand that we need to be a country of immigrants where the Republicans are seen as welcoming hardworking, competent people, not prepared to kick grandmother out.” 
  • Rob Jesmer, former National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Executive Director, told USA Today, “I do believe that (Republicans) have a compelling message for Hispanics, so if we can get this issue behind us, then we are on much more fertile ground to try and take more of their vote share…But as long as this issue is out there it’s going to be very problematic for us to make gains.”
  • Whit Ayres, republican pollster, reported by the National Journal “Any strategy that is predicated on [consistently] getting a higher percentage of the white vote than Ronald Reagan got in 1980 is a losing strategy…It’s the same thing Democrats would talk about in the late 1980s after they had lost five of the previous six presidential elections in the popular vote. What they would say is, we need to get the nonvoters to vote; the nonvoters are with us. It never happened…is not getting much penetration among people who are serious about winning presidential elections. It is getting traction among people who are trying to justify voting against immigration reform or making any of the other changes that are necessary to be nationally competitive in the 21st century.”
  • Karl Rove former adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “As the Senate takes up immigration reform next week, Republicans must consider the impressions they will create by what they say, the changes they propose and their votes on the final product… There is growing public support for providing a pathway to citizenship for those now in the country illegally… Immigration reform is now a gateway issue: Many Hispanics won’t be open to Republicans until it is resolved, which could take the rest of the year. But there is little doubt next week’s Senate deliberations will shape for some time to come the Hispanic community’s perceptions of the GOP.”
  • Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush, responded to the bipartisan Senate proposal on Fox News: “It’s a huge step forward because the leadership in the Senate, Republican and Democrat, realized that this could only be done in a bipartisan way, and so they got a working group together to work over the many thorny details of this and it’s a good first step…Hopefully this bipartisan effort will generate good policy for the country.” 
  • Jon Huntsman, former Utah Governor and Republican presidential contender, shared “his vision for the Republican Party going forward” in an interview with Sam Stein of the Huffington Post.  Writes Stein: “He called for neo-conservatism to be sidelined, for states’ rights on issues like gay marriage to be respected, for comprehensive immigration reform to be pursued. He also said the party had to be open to compromise, including on the idea of raising marginal tax rates (as a last resort).”
  • Former Republican President George W. Bush said at a press conference, “America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time…As our nation debates the proper course of action relating to immigration, I hope we do so with a benevolent spirit and keep in mind the contributions of immigrants…Not only do immigrants help build our economy, they invigorate our soul…Growing up here in Texas, like many in this room, we’ve had the honor and privilege of meeting newly arrived. Those whom I’ve met love their families. They see education as a bright future for their children. Some willingly defend the flag.”
  • Mario Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership, said in a teleconference, “The primary leaders and funders of the anti-immigration movement were drawn to it because they were also active organizers and supporters of, and contributors to, the population-control movement in the United States.”
  • Mario Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership, wrote in an article “Often the radical nature of these proposed ‘solutions’ has led advocates of such policies to couch their ideas in terms of helping the world’s poor and concern for the environment.”
  • Mario Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership, said during a teleconference, “It’s one thing to have a genuine disagreement with Marco Rubio (R-Florida) or Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), or have concerns about the Senate [immigration] bill…while it’s reasonable to have objections to the policies being proposed by these politicians, it’s not accurate to call organizations such as FAIR conservative.”
  • Fred Malek, GOP donor and fundraiser, said “Thoughtful people in the donor community fully recognize that our Republican Party is seen by many as intolerant, and that we will never again win a national election unless we embrace policies more appealing to the large, growing, and influential group of Hispanics in our country.”
  • Stephen Law, president and CEO of American Crossroads, said “It’s not just about appealing to Hispanic voters, though that’s important. …There’s a concern among major donors that the party is starting to seem out of touch in an increasingly diverse and dynamic America.”
  • Rick Santorum, former Republican U.S. Senator and presidential candidate, told Politico: “I think the fact that we send some of those people back and don’t give them the opportunity to participate here is wrong…I think we need to look at a simple fact: We are not having enough children to replace ourselves. Our country is not growing in population simply by the people that are here.”
  • John Weaver GOP strategist reported by the New York Times,“If the House effectively kills comprehensive immigration reform this cycle, we’ll be set back for generations, if not longer. And the Bush legacy will certainly look a lot brighter to people when we’re out of power and can’t get back in, than perhaps it does today.”
  • Randy Paige, chairman of the GOP committee in South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, told Politico: “A number of us, myself included, have looked at the message that the Republican Party has been sending and looking at the message that the Hispanic community sent us in November, and we’ve started to listen to what Sen. Rubio and Sen. Graham have been saying…Looking specifically at Hispanics, most of them support us on other issues — whether social issues or fiscal issues.  They’re saying, ‘We agree with you on life and school choice and so many other things,’ but yet we’re saying, ‘You’re not welcome. And we want you to go back and self-deport yourself’? That’s the wrong rhetoric, and it’s, frankly, the wrong solution.”
  • Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) said during the announcement of the new bipartisan task force on immigration, “I think it would be productive if there is a path to citizenship that is separate from a green card, separate from a guest worker but is a much more strenuous path that requires more than just allowing guest workers to come here and work legally.” 
  • Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) told reporters at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, “I am very comfortable with a path to citizenship. It should be more strenuous than the path for people who come here under the regular rules. … I’m very comfortable with that. Some people aren’t. And that’s part of what getting from here to there is all about.” 
  • Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) wrote, “There are different estimates of what comprehensive immigration reform would mean to our economy, but it is safe to say that it would be a boon, not a burden.” 
  • Former Republican Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said to reporters about the new bipartisan task force on immigration, “People of good faith and intentions disagree about the specifics of immigration…I hope that as a country, we can come to a place where we really acknowledge how important immigration and immigrants have been to who we are as Americans and why we’ve led in economic revolution after economic revolution.”
  • Rosario Marin, who served as the 41st US Treasurer under President George W. Bush, wrote for Fox News Latino, “Across the nation 50,000 young Latinos turn 18 years old every month. Let me repeat it, every month. A few for sure are undocumented, but the majority are children and grandchildren of immigrants. Should the Republicans choose to ignore such telling demographics, they do so at their own peril, and the party could be extinct sooner than they can imagine. But there is an alternative, a great opportunity — immigration reform.” 
  • Stephen Sandstrom, former member of the Utah Legislature who sponsored, rallied and pushed for an enforcement-only immigration law and once drew inspiration from Arizona immigration hardliner Russell Pearce, told the Salt Lake Tribune that he hopes a federal judge tosses out his law: “At this point I think it would be best for this country and the state to have him go ahead and overturn it — at least take out parts of it,” Sandstrom said. “I think it was a wrong approach, basically trying to identify everybody in the state and basically criminalizing everyone here who is undocumented — including these kids. I think it was the wrong approach and it could’ve been better to where we just targeted the people here doing crimes.”
  • Condoleezza Rice, Henry Cisneros, Ed Rendell, Haley Barbour joined together to write an op-ed in the importance of immigration reform, “It makes little economic and moral sense to allow these unauthorized individuals to remain in the shadows of our society on a permanent basis. Those who pay all penalties, pass a criminal background check and fully comply with other requirements should have the ability to eventually apply for citizenship. This approach is consistent with the American values of fairness and decency.”
  • Steve Munisteri Texas Republican Party Chairman, on the opportunity Republicans are missing in immigration reform, “Messaging is as important as the message, or people won’t ever hear your message. If you just say we will never make people citizens under any circumstance because they are from a certain country or something like that, then that would hurt the cause. So, how you explain this is very important.”
  • Jim Brulte California Republican Party Chairman said in an interview, “Republicans in California ignored demographic changes.  As a result, we’re a significant minority.”
  • Teresa Hernandez, head of the immigration task force for the active Orange County Lincoln Club said on the state of Republican’s involvement in immigration reform, “All our polling shows immigration is the fourth- or fifth-most-important issue to Hispanic voters.  It’s one of those gateway issues: we want to speak to the Hispanic community on things that we agree on: education reform and jobs. But we need to get immigration off the table.”
  • Ruben Barrales, head of the conservative group Grow Elect and former aide to President George W. Bush commented on how Republicans should approach immigration reform, “Republicans whose focus is on border security and enforcement — that’s fine, if that’s what their focus is, but please, talk about how important immigration is and to do it right… And we want to encourage it and bring the best and the brightest from around the world; immigration is helping make America stronger, and California one of the best places in the world to live. Start out with the positive, by communicating to people and letting them know that you care about them and the things that they care about.”
  • Jon Fleischman Conservative Blogger on immigration reform for Republicans, “The path for a winning scenario escapes me. It’s a lose-lose scenario for Republicans at this point. It’s not clear to me how to win on this issue for our party right now. I can’t figure out what the win is. Because I see the problems, I see the challenge before me, so I don’t know what these individual members of Congress are going to do. I hope it works out.”
  • Former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) advocated for expansion of the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill to include rights for gay Americans and their foreign-born partners, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Our laws should not separate American citizens from their loved ones for such unacceptably long periods of time. While the bill you are considering is an excellent starting point for reform, I submit to you that it is still incomplete. Families like mine are left behind as part of this proposal. Equally important, U.S. businesses and our economy suffer because of the omission of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families from the bill introduced last week.”
  • Walker Nickless  The Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City said in regards to Rep. Kings comments on immigration, “I am disappointed by Rep. King’s remarks, which speak of migrants in a way that undermines their human dignity and the respect owed them as children of God …I support common sense reform that provides a reasonable path to citizenship for the undocumented and promotes family unity.”
  • Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said in an interview for Newsmax, “For me, it’s a matter of the heart — and I’m a firm believer that there has to be a conservative solution to every challenge in America or else why be a conservative? Conservative principles apply to every challenge that this country faces, and I’m a firm believer that the House can come up with conservative principles that can make us all proud… We don’t’ want to be known as the ‘party of no’ or the ‘movement of no…We’ve got to be known as the ‘party in the movement of solutions’ — and immigration reform needs a solution.”
  • Chamber of Commerce Letter from 233 Business Groups, said “We believe that it (S. 744) is a strong, positive step toward establishing a sensible legal framework and enforceable guidelines that respect the rule of law, help protect U.S. borders, and meet the economic and social needs of America. …America’s current immigration system is broken and does not meet the needs of our citizens or businesses. …Improvements to our nation’s immigration policies are long overdue and are essential to continued economic growth. …We especially applaud the efforts of the bipartisan ‘Gang of 8’ for their leadership on this issue and commend the entire Senate for your hard work on this difficult and controversial issue. …We support reform that will improve our competitiveness, attract and retain the best talent and workers we need, secure our borders, and keep faith with America’s legacy as an open and welcoming society.”
  • Letter written by 15 Californian Republican Lawmakers to the House of Representatives supporting Immigration Reform, “There is no policy debate more important to the future of California and America than passing comprehensive immigration reform,” the lawmakers said in a letter to House Republicans from California. “By providing legal clarity to the status of millions of people in California, we can spur an economic renaissance, solidify families, and create an entirely new population of full taxpayers, many of whom who have strong entrepreneurial and work ethics.”

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