Candidates' positions are categorized as Pro (Yes), Con (No), Not Clearly Pro or Con, or None Found. Candidates who have changed their positions are listed as Now their most recent position. Candidates are listed by party and in alphabetical order by last name. Black & white photos indicate candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria for inclusion.
Are undocumented immigrants a net gain to the US economy?
Virgil Goode, former US Representative (R-VA), stated the following on his campaign website page "The Issues," available at www.goodeforpresident2012.com (accessed May 14, 2012):
"Illegal immigration costs the United States taxpayers billions every year through increased health care costs, social service utilization, emergency room fees, prison expenses, and in other areas. For example, of the 189,000 federal prisoners, 50,000 are illegal or recent aliens costing the taxpayers millions of dollars for their incarceration." May 14, 2012 Virgil Goode
[Editor's Note: In a May 14, 2012 email to ProCon.org, Virgil Goode stated "No" in response to our question "Are illegal immigrants a net gain to the US economy?"]
Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, stated the following in a Nov. 30, 2009 video titled "Immigration," available on the website for Johnson's campaign organization Our America Initiative:
"First of all, I support immigration. I think immigration is a good thing. I'm opposed to building a wall across the border, which we have built a wall across the border. What we really need to do is we really need to make it easy for immigrants that are here in the United States to work in the United States... I think that illegal immigration is really the issue. We need to make documentation of illegal immigrants as easy as we possibly can. There're all sorts of ways we could do that, starting with the employer. Let's make it easy to document illegal immigrants so that they become legal, tax-paying immigrants." Nov. 30, 2009 Gary Johnson
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, stated the following in the May 10, 2011 "Building a 21st Century Immigration System," available at www.whitehouse.gov:
"Others avoid immigration laws by overstaying their visas. Regardless of how they came, the overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families. But we have to acknowledge they've broken the rules. They've cut in front of the line. And what is also true is that the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are trying to immigrate legally.
So one way to strengthen the middle class in America is to reform the immigration system so that there is no longer a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everybody else... And that's why immigration reform is an economic imperative. It's an economic imperative." May 10, 2011 Barack Obama
Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, stated the following during the Fox News/Washington Examiner Republican presidential debate held at Iowa State University in Ames, IA on Aug. 11, 2011:
"We're not looking to bring people in and -- in jobs that can be done by Americans... We let people come across our border illegally or stay here and overstay their visa. They get to stay in the country. I want the best and brightest to be metered into the country based upon the needs of our employment sector and create jobs by bringing technology and innovation that comes from people around the world.
Look, we -- we are a nation of immigrants. We love legal immigration. But for legal immigration to work, we have to secure the border, and we also have to crack down on employers that hire people who are here illegally.
I like legal immigration. I'd have the number of visas that we give to people here that come here legally, determined in part by the needs of our employment community. But we have to secure our border and crack down on those that bring folks here and hire here illegally." Aug. 11, 2011 Mitt Romney
Jill Stein, MD, former Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, stated the following in a Dec. 21, 2011 Americans Elect email questionnaire, available at www.ontheissues.org:
"We are a nation of immigrants - and immigrants are a critical component of our economy. In Alabama, their tomato industry collapsed to the tune of billions of dollars when they passed very harsh anti-immigrant laws and the immigrants left town. That state learned the hard way how valuable the immigrant sector was to their economy. And that's true nationally. The real solution is:
A) Fix the economic problems that are driving waves of immigrants into this country, initiated by our own trade policies.
B) Then, yes, providing a legal pathway to citizenship to the immigrants who are an integral part of our economy and our culture." Dec. 21, 2011 Jill Stein
Michele Bachmann, US Representative (R-MN), stated the following at the Sep. 22, 2011 Fox News/Google Republican presidential debate held in Orlando, FL:
"As president of the United States, I would do what my job would demand of me. That’s to uphold the sovereignty of the United States of America. To do that, I would build a fence on America’s southern border on every mile, on every yard, on every foot, on every inch of the southern border. I think that’s what we have to do, not only build it, but then also have sufficient border security and enforce the laws that are on the books with the ICE agents, with our border security. And here’s the other thing I would do. I would not allow taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal aliens or for their children." Sep. 23, 2011 Michele Bachmann
Herman Cain, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and Chairman of Godfather's Pizza, stated the following in "Fix the Immigration Problems," available at www.hermancain.com (accessed on Sep. 28, 2011):
"Americans do resent, however, the willingness of some to circumvent our laws and enter our nation illegally. While many, if not most, illegal immigrants are peaceful people simply seeking to provide for their families, some are not. In fact, some are quite dangerous, jeopardizing the safety and well-being of American citizens...
Illegal immigration also puts a tremendous strain on America's entitlement and health care systems. Illegal immigrants are typically uninsured and cannot afford to pay for their medical care, driving up costs for all Americans, even those actually insured. In fact, several hospitals in the US have declared bankruptcy as a result of the costs of caring for illegal immigrants." Sep. 28, 2011 Herman Cain
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives (R-GA), stated the following at the NBC News/Politico Republican presidential debate held at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley on Sep. 7, 2011:
"I think we have to find a way to get to a country in which everybody who's here is here legally....We ought to control the border, we ought to have a legal guest worker program. We ought to outsource it, frankly, to American Express, Visa, and MasterCard, so there'sno counterfeiting, which there will be with the federal government. We should be very tough on employers once you have that legal program. We should make English the official language of government....We should insist that first-generation immigrants who come here learn American history in order to become citizens. We should also insist that American children learn American history. And then find a way to deal with folks who are already here, some of whom, frankly, have been here 25 years, are married with kids, live in our local neighborhood, go to our church. It's got to be done in a much more humane way than thinking that to automatically deport millions of people.” Sep. 7, 2011 Newt Gingrich
Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah, stated the following in a May 19, 2011 interview with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America on ABC News:
"I don't believe in penalizing the younger generation coming across our borders who have no say whatsoever over their journey and destiny. They want to integrate into the American system. If they're willing what needs to do be done and work hard, then I think if we're giving them an in-house tuition break, that integrates them into the system, and makes them part of ultimately contributing to our country." May 19, 2011 Jon Huntsman
Ron Paul, US Representative (R-TX), stated the following in his 2011 book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedoms:
"A free and prosperous economy always looks for labor; immigrant workers would be needed and welcomed. This need could be managed by a generous guest worker program, not by illegal immigrants receiving benefits for the family and securing an easy route to permanent citizenship and thus becoming pawns of partisan political interests...
Most immigrants do not come for handouts; rather, they come for survival reasons and have a work ethic superior to many of our citizens who have grown dependent on welfare and unemployment benefits...
Many claim that illegal immigrants take American jobs. This is true, but most of the jobs they 'take' are the ones unemployed Americans refuse at the wage offered." 2011 Ron Paul
Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, stated the following in the Nov. 5, 2003 press release "Gov. Rick Perry Meets with the President of Mexico Vicente Fox," available at governor.state.tx.us:
"Every nation has a sovereign right to control its borders. As a nation of immigrants, we welcome men and women who enter our nation to better their lives and enrich our society. At the same time, while welcoming those who come in good faith, we must also stop the entry of those who intend us harm... Migrant workers are valuable to our economy, and we value their many contributions. We must ensure Mexican citizens can continue to contribute to our economy while also protecting Americans and our visitors from the horrors of a terrorist attack." Nov. 5, 2003 Rick Perry
Buddy Roemer, former Governor of Louisiana, stated the following in his campaign site posting, "Fixing Immigration," available at www.buddyroemer.com (accessed Oct. 31, 2011):
"Immigrants play a vital role in our economy, bringing skills and hard work to jobs that can at times be thankless. At the same time, we have a responsibility to seal our borders and ensure that those who enter our country do so legally.
Buddy Roemer would enforce immigration laws, but welcome those that are here legally and consider policies to allow illegal aliens to return to their home countries and apply for legal entry into the United States.
Immigration quotas should be adjusted based on the needs of the labor market to fill jobs, rather than working from a set number or policy." Oct. 31, 2011 Buddy Roemer
Rick Santorum, former US Senator (R-PA), stated the following during the June 13, 2011 CNN Republican presidential debate held in Manchester, NH:
"Well, I'm the son of a legal immigrant in this country and -- and believe in legal immigration. That is a great wellspring of --of strength for our country. But we cannot continue to provide -- the federal government should not require states to provide government services. And I have consistently voted against that and believe that we are, unfortunately -- my grandfather came to this country -- I announced in Somerset County. He didn't come here because he was guaranteed a government benefit. He came here because he wanted freedom. And I think most people who come to this country -- certainly all people who come here legally -- want it because they wanted the opportunities of this country. And that's what we should be offering. We should not be offering to people -- particularly those who broke the law to come here or overstayed their visa -- we should not be offering government benefits." June 13, 2011 Rick Santorum