Basic Briefing

The Immigration Debate

The immigration debate focuses on how to handle the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the US and how to limit the amount of undocumented immigrants who enter the US. Should undocumented immigrants be given a path towards citizenship? What is the best way to minimize illegal immigration? Should states have the power to create their own immigration laws?

Official Democratic position

“Democrats are strongly committed to enacting comprehensive immigration reform that supports our economic goals and reflects our values as both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.” The Party supports the DREAM Act and wants to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The Party believes that immigration is a federal issue – states and local governments should not be able to create their own immigration laws.

Official Republican position

“…The presence of millions of unidentified persons in this country poses grave risks to the safety and sovereignty of the United States.” The Republican Party opposes any form of amnesty, supports the mandatory use of E-verify, and encourages state efforts to reduce illegal immigration. The Party supports finishing the double-layered fence at the US-Mexico border. The Party believes that federal funding should be denied to “sanctuary cities” and supports English as the official language of the United States.

Institutional framework

Immigration is primarily a federal issue. The President works with the Department of Homeland Security to enforce immigration laws. Congress is responsible for creating immigration-related laws and regulations. Federal laws determine: who can legally immigrate, deportable offenses, and the legal rights given to undocumented immigrants.

In an effort to deal with the problem of illegal immigration, many states have passed their own immigration laws. These laws focus on immigration enforcement such as employment verification, extending driver’s license eligibility to undocumented immigrants, and offering access to some social safety-net programs. However, if challenged in court, many of these laws are unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause which establishes the supremacy of federal law over state law in the Constitution.

Most Vocal on Immigration

These are the candidates who focus on this issue the most, with the most liberal on this issue on the left and the most conservative on this issue on the right. Click on the circles to see more information.

David Vitter | U.S. Senate, 2014 in Louisiana (LA) | Crowdpac Mazie Hirono | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in Hawaii (HI) | Crowdpac Vic Kohring | U.S. Senate, 2014 in Alaska (AK) | Crowdpac Dianne Feinstein | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in California (CA) | Crowdpac Bob Goodlatte | Candidate for 6th Congressional District, 2018 Primary Election in Virginia (VA) | Crowdpac Darrell Issa | Candidate for 49th Congressional District, 2018 Primary Election in California (CA) | Crowdpac Charles Dent | 15th Congressional District, 2016 in Pennsylvania (PA) | Crowdpac Lamar Smith | 21st Congressional District, 2016 in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Duncan Hunter | Candidate for 50th Congressional District, 2018 Primary Election in California (CA) | Crowdpac Beto O'Rourke | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac

The Spectrum on Immigration

These are the candidates who are most liberal, most conservative, and most moderate on this specific issue. Click on each candidate to see more information.

Crowdpacs tagged Immigration

Relevant Committees


UnidosUS - Founded in 1968, largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the US

NumbersUSA - An immigration reduction organization that seeks to reduce US immigration levels to pre-1965 levels