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March 1996, Volume 3, Number 3

Presidential Candidates on Immigration

The surprising strength of Pat Buchanan in recent primaries will ensure that immigration remains a key issue in 1996 presidential politics. The immigration issue will likely increase in importance as the Republican presidential candidates woo California voters in the March 26 winner-take-all primary.

Buchanan won the Louisiana primary, came in second to Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) in Iowa, won the New Hampshire primary, and came in second or third in the next three primaries. Buchanan, campaigning in Arizona in late February, promised to "halt the invasion" over the southern border with a fence and troops within six months of becoming president. Arizona's population is 20 percent Hispanic.

Buchanan also promised to push for a five-year moratorium on immigration--only spouses and children of US citizens would be admitted. Buchanan opposes any kind of financial assistance for illegal aliens, and wants to make English the official language of the United States.

Pundits noted that immigration brings together three GOP issues--crime, illegal behavior, and welfare, and that Buchanan's rhetoric encouraged other candidates to speak out on immigration.

Lamar Alexander in January 1996 in San Francisco proposed that the Immigration and Naturalization Service be replaced with a new branch of the armed forces to patrol America's borders. In the same statement he said that the federal government should pick up the tab for illegal immigrants in states such as Florida and California.

Bob Dole has promised to increase the size of the US Border Patrol and streamline deportation procedures. Dole opposes welfare benefits for illegal immigrants. In an April 1995 interview, Dole said that he thought Prop. 187 was a message to Washington that the American people have reached the limits in paying for illegal immigrants.

Steve Forbes, would like to increase legal immigration, and opposes the registry concept endorsed by the CIR to deal with illegal immigration. In July 1987, Forbes asserted that "You cannot be a great power without a large population." Forbes in 1995 wrote that "Legal immigrants have consistently provided the US with energetic workers and entrepreneurs."

In 1985, Forbes asserted that the "The American Southwest would suffer a depression without them [illegal aliens]."

David Rogers, "Buchanan campaign rides into Arizona with a pledge to defend frontier," Wall Street Journal, February 23, 1996. Rebecca S. Weiner, "Ortiz Says Pat Buchanan's Primary Victory Won't Last," States News Service, February 21, 1996. Rose Kim and Merle English, "Many in City Can't Stand Pat/Immigrant-Group Leaders Anxious About Buchanan," Newsday, February 22, 1996.