Democrats Once Supported Increased Border Security, Cracking Down On Illegal Immigration, And Placing Limits On Legal Immigration
- In the past, Democrats took a tough stance on illegal immigration, emphasized their opposition to amnesty, chain migration, and sanctuary cities, and called for immigration laws to be strictly enforced.
- Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in 1993: "The day when America could be the welfare system for Mexico is gone. We simply can't afford it."
- Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) in 1993: "Can it be any wonder that the American people think our immigration policies are a joke when we select 40,000 new immigrants a year by lottery?"
- President Bill Clinton in 1995: "But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it."
- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in 2006: "These provisions are not amnesty. Undocumented immigrants already in the country would not get to cut to the front of the line, but, in accordance with the Committee's bipartisan plan, will need to pay fines, pay back taxes, work hard, and wait in line for green cards."
- Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2007: "I happen to think that the Congress should be spending a lot more time discussing this issue and making it easier for us to create decent paying jobs for American workers instead of allowing corporate interest to drive wages down by importing more and more people into this country to do the work that Americans should be doing."
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN
Dianne Feinstein Called America A "Welfare System" For Mexico And Stated That "The People Who Should Be Here Are Those That Come Legally"
In 1993, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Said " The Day When America Could Be The Welfare System For Mexico Is Gone ," Adding That "The People Who Should Be Here Are Those That Come Here Legally." SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: "The day when America could be the welfare system for Mexico is gone. We simply can't afford it. And I think you've seen the figures, to state and local government of what the cost is, it's over 2 billion dollars in California alone. I have those figures if you want them in specific in my purse. And that's why the issue is now joined with 2 million illegal immigrants. It's a competition for space. Whether the space is a job, the space is a home, a place in a classroom. It's becomes a competition for space. This is a country that's based on immigration and we all know that. Yet at times you become so overtaxed. You have to concentrate on saying the people who should be here are those that come legally at this time. And we've got to, for the time being, enforce our borders." (Senator Dianne Feinstein, Remarks At U.S. Mexico Border Visit, San Ysidro, CA, 8/17/93)
In 1994, Feinstein Ran A Political Ad Showing Illegal Immigrants Crossing The Border, And Promised To Get Tough On Illegal Immigration With More "Agents, Fencing, Lighting, And Other Equipment." "It opens with a statement: 'While Congressman Huffington voted against new border guards, Dianne Feinstein led the fight to stop illegal immigration.' A picture of presumably illegal immigrants streaming over the border appears on the screen while Feinstein's voice is heard explaining that 3,000 illegal immigrants try to cross the border many nights. Feinstein adds that she has only been in the Senate a short time, but has worked hard to secure the border with more agents, fencing, lighting and other equipment. It closes with the senator saying to the camera: 'I'm Dianne Feinstein and I've just begun to fight for California.'" ("Feinstein's TV Attack On Immigration," Los Angeles Times, 7/10/94)
In 2000, Feinstein Called For "More Cooperation Between [Immigration And Naturalization Service] INS, Customs, Domestic Law Enforcement, And Our Defense And Intelligence Communities." FEINSTEIN: "We also need, as you have pointed out, Mr. Chairman, more cooperation between INS, Customs, domestic law enforcement, and our defense and intelligence communities." (Senator Dianne Feinstein, Subcommittee On Immigration Of The Committee On The Judiciary, United States Senate, Testimony, 2/10/00, p. 4)
In 2006, Feinstein Helped Forge A Path For Legislation Strengthening The Border By Making It A Criminal Act To Construct Or Fund A Tunnel Across The International Border Between The U.S. And Mexico. "The Senate has previously passed similar legislation twice - first in the comprehensive immigration reform bill and next in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill -- so I am hopeful that a bill outlawing the construction of a border tunnel will soon be on its way to the President for his signature. Earlier this year, I toured a warehouse containing the entrance to a half-mile long tunnel stretching from San Diego through to Tijuana, Mexico discovered by border officials in January. The tunnel was incredibly sophisticated. It had lights, ventilation, pumps, and a concrete floor. On the Mexican side, 2000 pounds of marijuana was found, and on the American side 300 pounds was found. Yet, there is no law making the building or financing of these tunnels illegal. We've got to close this loophole and stop those who would subvert our nation's border security by tunneling under the border." (Press Release, "Statement By Senator Dianne Feinstein To House Passage Of Border Tunnel Legislation," Senator Dianne Feinstein , 9/21/06)
In 2015, Feinstein Said, "I Strongly Believe That An Undocumented Individual Convicted Of Multiple Felonies And With A Detainer Request From [Immigration And Customs Enforcement] ICE Should Not Have Been Released." " 'I strongly believe that an undocumented individual, convicted of multiple felonies and with a detainer request from ICE, should not have been released. We should focus on deporting convicted criminals, not setting them loose on our streets,' Feinstein said, adding that she is looking into whether additional federal legislation is necessary." (Susan Crabtree, "Feinstein Calls On San Francisco To Comply With Federal Immigration Laws," The Washington Examiner , 7/7/2015)
SEN. HARRY REID
Harry Reid Criticized Illegal Immigration, Noting That Americans Are Not "Trying To Blame Immigrants For Their Problems" But "Simply Recognizing Facts"
In 1993, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) Stated That Americans Were Concerned About Immigration Laws Because The "Net Costs Of Legal And Illegal Immigration To All Levels Of Government [Was Expected To] Be $45 Billion Over The Next Decade." SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): "But why, Mr. President, are the American people concerned? Why are they concerned about the present state of immigration laws? Here is why: The most recent studies show that the net costs of legal and illegal immigration to all levels of Government will be $45 billion over the next decade. And this figure takes into account the taxes paid by these immigrants. Next, according to the Attorney General, 26 percent of Federal prisoners are noncitizens, at a cost of $30,000 per inmate per year." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93)
Reid Asserted That He Voted Against Granting Amnesty To 3.2 Million Illegal Immigrations In 1986 Because "The Average Amnesty Recipient Had A Sixth-Grade Education, Earned Less Than $6 An Hour, And Presently Qualifie[d] For The Earned-Income Tax Credit." REID: "In 1986, we granted amnesty-and I voted against that provision in law-we granted amnesty to 3.2 million illegal immigrants. After being in this country for ten years, the average amnesty recipient had a sixth-grade education, earned less than $6 an hour, and presently qualifies for the earned-income tax credit." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93, 05:03 - 05:28)
Reid Stated That "67 Percent Of The Births" At A Los Angeles County Hospital Were To "Illegal Alien Mothers" Adding That "California Needs To Build A School A Day To Keep Up With Incoming Immigrant Children." REID: "In 1993, in LA County, at Los Angeles County Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the country, 67 percent of the births were to illegal alien mothers. Next, the State of California needs to build a school a day to keep up with the incoming immigrant children-a school a day." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93)
In 1993, Reid Said That "For Every Seven Immigrants Who Enter The Job Market, One Blue-Collar American Worker Loses A Job." REID: "According to a recent study out of Dartmouth, for every seven immigrants who enter the job market, one blue-collar American worker loses a job. The INS routinely issues work authorization without regard to the number of jobs the economy is creating." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93)
- Reid Added That "It [Was] No Wonder" That The "Top Five States Receiving Immigrants … Have Higher Unemployment Rates Than The National Average." REID: "The top five States receiving immigrants-California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Illinois-have higher unemployment rates than the national average. It is no wonder." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93)
Reid Stated That America's Immigration Policies Have "Simply Ceased To Function In The National Interest." REID: "The American people, Mr. President, are upset, and I think they have a right to be upset. But they are upset for a reason. Our immigration policies, regulating all aspects of entry to the United States, have simply ceased to function in the national interest. 'Immigration policy' and 'national interest' are terms that are rarely heard in the context of immigration. We seem to have lost sight of the fact that it is a public policy and, like all public policies, our immigration policies should serve the public interest but they don't." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93, 08:19 - 08:51)
Reid Said That The U.S. "Admit More People Each Year Than Make Up Some Of Our States" Without "The Vaguest Idea Of How We Will Educate All The New Children, Care For The Sick, Provide Housing, Build Infrastructure, Or Attend To Any Of The Human Needs." REID: "We now admit the equivalent of a major city each year, without having the vaguest idea of how we will educate all the new children, care for the sick, provide housing, jobs, build infrastructure, or attend to any of the human needs of the newcomers or those already here. Mr. President, each year, we admit-I repeat-the equivalent of a major city. We admit more people each year than make up some of our States. We admit a new State with legal immigrants every year." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93)
- Reid Added That "We Have No Idea Of How These Huge Costs Will Be Borne" And "Only A Tiny Fraction Of Those Admitted Each Year Enter Because They Have The Skills And Abilities That Will Benefit Our Country." REID: "At a time of huge budget deficits and severe financial constraints, we have no idea of how these huge costs will be borne. We just do it. We admit the equivalent of a major city without any assessment of whether these newcomers are likely to be contributing members of our society. Only a tiny fraction of those admitted each year enter because they have skills and abilities that will benefit our country." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93)
Reid Said "The Rest Come Merely Because They Happen To Be Relatives Of Other Recent Immigrants" And Questioned If This "So-Called Policy" Was "Really A Way To Run Immigration Policy." REID: "The rest come merely because they happen to be relatives of other recent immigrants. The result of this so-called policy is that there is now a backlog of almost 3 1/2 million people-the population of a city the size of Los Angeles-who have a claim to immigrate to the United States for no other reason than they are somebody's relative. Is this really a way to run immigration policy?" (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93)
Reid Said Americans Think "Our Immigration Policies Are A Joke" Because We "Make Public Policy Based On The Roll Of A Die Or The Flip Of A Coin." REID: "Because a relative-based immigrant system is inherently unfair, Congress has been forced to adopt even more absurd measures to deal with the demands of people who do not have relatives here. Can it be any wonder that the American people think our immigration policies are a joke when we select 40,000 new immigrants a year by lottery? Can anyone honestly tell me it is sound and rational to make public policy based on the roll of a die or the flip of a coin? Heads we admit you, tails you stay home." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93, 11:36 -12:13)
Reid Also Said America Does "Nothing To Encourage These People To Go Home Or Even Deter Them From Coming Here In The First Place." REID: "But the absurdity does not stop with our legal immigration policy. When it comes to enforcing laws against illegal immigration, we have a system that will make you recoil in disbelief. We now have a permanent illegal alien population of 4 million people-we think. We think that is all it is. That is more than two times larger than the State I represent, the State of Nevada-4 million people. The illegal alien population is growing by more than a quarter of a million people a year, we think, with the best statistics we have. Yet we are doing almost nothing to encourage these people to go home or even to deter them from coming here in the first place. In many parts of the country we actually make it easy to be an illegal alien." (Senator Harry Reid, Remarks On Senate Floor, Washington, D.C., 9/20/93)
In 1994, Reid Proposed Cutting "Legal Immigration From 1 Million A Year To 325,000." "Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., told the committee that he has proposed legislation to cut legal immigration from 1 million a year to 325,000." (Jim Abrams, "Senators Demand Plans To Halt Illegal Immigration," Times-Picayune, 6/16/94)
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON
President Clinton Stated That "It is Wrong And Ultimately Self-Defeating For A Nation Of Immigrants To Permit The Kind Of Abuse Of Our Immigration Laws We Have Seen"
In 1995, Then-President Bill Clinton Stated That "All Americans" Are "Rightly Disturbed By The Large Numbers Of Illegal Immigrants Entering Our Country." PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: "All Americans, not only in the States most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country." (Bill Clinton, Remarks At State Of The Union, Washington, D.C., 1/24/95)
President Clinton Stated That The Jobs Illegal Immigrants Hold "Might Otherwise Be Held By Citizens" And That Illegal Immigrants "Impose Burdens On Our Taxpayers." PRESIDENT CLINTON: "The jobs they [illegal immigrants] hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That's why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. In the budget I will present to you, we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace." (Bill Clinton, Remarks At State Of The Union, Washington, D.C., 1/24/95)
President Clinton Asserted That "It Is Wrong And Ultimately Self-Defeating For A Nation Of Immigrants To Permit The Kind Of Abuse Of Our Immigration Laws We Have Seen In Recent Years." PRESIDENT CLINTON: "We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it." (Bill Clinton, Remarks At State Of The Union, Washington, D.C., 1/24/95)
SEN. TED KENNEDY
Ted Kennedy Insisted That Illegal Immigrants Should "Have To Learn English" And "Go To The End Of The Line"
In 1994, Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) Introduced "A Tough Immigration Bill" That Would "Reduce The Number Of Legal Immigrants Allowed Into The Country By 26 Percent For The Next Five Years." "Senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., introduced a tough immigration bill today that would reduce the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country by 26 percent for the next five years." (Halle Shilling, "Wyoming Senator Introduces Bill To Limit Immigration To United States," States News Service, 3/2/94)
- A Spokesperson For Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) Called The Bill A "Constructive Suggestion." "A spokesperson for Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Affairs, said that the bill is a 'constructive suggestion' on how to solve a complex immigration issue that the committee has wrestled with for years." (Halle Shilling, "Wyoming Senator Introduces Bill To Limit Immigration To United States," States News Service, 3/2/94)
In 1996, Kennedy Described "Chain Migration" As "A Virtual Endless Chain Of Immigration." KENNEDY: "This way we address the concern raised by many about chain migration, the ability of a citizen to bring in a brother, for example, who in turn then brings in his wife and children. Once his wife is a citizen, she can then bring in her parents and other family members in a virtual endless chain of immigration." (Senator Ted Kennedy, Remarks On The Senate Floor , Washington, D.C., 4/15/96)
In 2005, Kennedy Said Illegal Immigrants Should "Have To Learn English" And "Go To The End Of The Line." KENNEDY: "We have those individuals here. This is part of the challenge that we're facing. We are facing the issues on the border. We're facing the pressure on individuals who want to come in on a temporary--and how are we going to adjust the status? Our program puts those individuals here. First of all, they pay a penalty, they have to pay their taxes, they have to demonstrate they're working." CBS' GLORIA BORGER: "Right." KENNEDY: "They have to learn English and they go to the end of the line." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 3/26/05)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY
Patrick Stressed That The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act Of 2006 Was "Not Amnesty" And Illegals "Would Not Get To Cut In the Front Of The Line"
In 2000, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Said He "Strongly Supports Providing Additional Resources In The Form Of Additional Officers, Support Personnel, And Equipment To Assist Federal And Local Law Enforcement Officers." SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT) "I strongly support providing additional resources in the form of additional officers, support personnel, and equipment to assist federal and local law enforcement officers who patrol our northern border." (Senator Patrick Leahy, Subcommittee On Immigration Of The Committee On The Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Testimony, 2/10/00, p. 14)
- Leahy Was A Cosponsor Of S. 745, The Border Improvement And Immigration Act, Which Called For Additional Resources To The INS, Border Patrol, And Customs Service. LEAHY: "That is why I am a cosponsor of S. 745, the Border Improvement and Immigration Act, which would provide additional resources to the INS, Border Patrol, and Customs Service." (Senator Patrick Leahy, Subcommittee On Immigration Of The Committee On The Judiciary, United States Senate, Testimony, 2/10/00, p. 14)
When Voicing His Support For The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act Of 2006, Leahy Stressed That The Provisions Were "Not Amnesty" And That Illegal Immigrants "Would Not Get To Cut To The Front Of The Line." "These provisions are not amnesty. Undocumented immigrants already in the country would not get to cut to the front of the line, but, in accordance with the Committee's bipartisan plan, will need to pay fines, pay back taxes, work hard, and wait in line for green cards. They must pass background checks and play by the rules." (Press Release, "Statement Of Sen. Patrick Leahy On Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill," Senator Patrick Leahy, 3/29/06)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
Barack Obama Said An "Influx Of Mostly Low-Skill Workers" Threatens "The Wages Of Blue-Collar Americans" And "Put[s] Strains On An Already Overburdened Safety Net"
In 2006, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) Said "Better Fences And Better Security Along Our Borders" Would "Help Stem Some Of The Tide Of Illegal Immigration In This Country." " 'The bill before us will certainly do some good,' Obama said on the Senate floor in October 2006. He praised the legislation, saying it would provide 'better fences and better security along our borders' and would 'help stem some of the tide of illegal immigration in this country.'" (Annie Linksey, "In 2006, Democrats Were Saying 'Build That Fence!'" Boston Globe , 1/27/17)
President Barack Obama Said An "Influx Of Mostly Low-Skill Workers" Threatens "The Wages Of Blue-Collar Americans" And "Put[s] Strains On An Already Overburdened Safety Net." "'The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century,' Obama noted. 'If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole-especially by keeping our workforce young, in contrast to an increasingly geriatric Europe and Japan-it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.'" (Neil Munro, "SHOCK FLASHBACK: Obama Says Illegal Immigration Hurts 'Blue-Collar Americas,' Strains Welfare," The Daily Caller , 11/16/14)
President Obama Said "Real Reform" Means Strong Border Security, Learning English, And "Going To The Back Of The Line Behind Folks Trying To Come Here Legally." PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "Real reform means strong border security, and we can build on the progress my administration has already made -- putting more boots on the Southern border than at any time in our history and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years. Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship -- a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally. And real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy." (President Barack Obama, Remarks At State Of The Union, Washington, D.C., 2/12/13)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER
Chuck Schumer Used Phrases Like "Undocumented Workers" Convey That The "Government Is Not Serious About Combating Illegal Immigration"
In 1994, Then-Representative Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Said If Refugees "Believe In The System, Then [They] Should Come Forward Soon After Arriving." "Currently, people can enter the country illegally and live here for years before claiming that they fear persecution in their homeland. 'If you believe in the system, then you should come forward soon after arriving,' Schumer said." (Roberto Suro, "An Abundance Of Asylum-Seekers; Overhaul Could Leave 1 Million Immigrants Stuck In Backlog," The Washington Post, 3/14/94)
In 1998, Schumer Demanded That New York's Attorney General "Bar Students From Nations Designated As Terrorist Sponsors," Adding That There Should Be A Bar For Students "Using American Universities As Terrorism Training Academies." "On the House side, Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote Attorney General Janet Reno last week demanding that she bar students from nations designated as terrorist sponsors Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Syria from studying subjects with military applications. 'There is no real bar to pariah countries using American universities as terrorism training academies,' Schumer wrote." (Richard Sisk, "Pols Seek To Curb Students From Terror States," Daily News, 2/24/98)
In 2009, During A Speech At Georgetown Law, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Stated, "When We Use Phrases Like 'Undocumented Workers,' We Convey A Message To The American People That Their Government Is Not Serious About Combating Illegal Immigration, Which The American People Overwhelmingly Oppose." SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): "When we use phrases like 'undocumented workers,' we convey a message to the American people that their government is not serious about combating illegal immigration, which the American people overwhelmingly oppose. If you don't think it's illegal, you are not going to say it. I think it is illegal and wrong, and we have to change it." (Senator Chuck Schumer, Speech At The Immigration Law & Policy Conference At Georgetown Law , Washington, D.C., 06/24/09)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS
Bernie Sanders Stated That Congress Should Be "Making It Easier For Us To Create Decent Jobs For American Workers" Instead Of "Importing More And More People Into This Country"
In 2007, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Said The Senate Should Be Helping American Workers Instead Of "Importing More And More Workers For Overseas." SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): "I think this Senate should be spending much more of its time making it easier to create decent-paying jobs for American workers, instead of allowing corporate America to drive down wages by importing more and more workers from overseas." (Press Release, "Statement By Sen. Bernie Sanders On Anti-Layoff Amendment," Sen. Bernie Sanders , 6/7/07)
Sanders Asserted That The Influx Of Immigrants Into The United States "Will End Up Lowering Wages For American Workers." SANDERS: "I want to tell you that there are areas in this bill where I have strong disagreements and that is the issue of legal immigration what we are doing in terms of bringing people into this country who in my view will end up lowering wages for American workers." (Senator Bernie Sanders, Remarks On The Senate Floor , Washington, D.C., 6/6/07, 00:54 - 01:03)
Sanders Said That He Thinks Congress Should Be "Making It Easier For Us To Create Decent Jobs For American Workers" Instead Of "Importing More And More People Into This Country." SANDERS: "I happen to think that the Congress should be spending a lot more time discussing this issue and making it easier for us to create decent paying jobs for American workers instead of allowing corporate interest to drive wages down by importing more and more people into this country to do the work that Americans should be doing." (Senator Bernie Sanders, Remarks On The Senate Floor , Washington, D.C., 5/24/07, 15:23 - 15:47)
Immigration Border Security