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 Black & white photos indicate candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria for inclusion.
Should undocumented immigrants have access to social services such as Medicaid, welfare, or public education?
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, stated the following in a video "Gary Johnson on Immigration, Presidential Run and Denish-Martinez Race," available on YouTube.com (accessed Feb. 14, 2012):
"Reform immigration to make it easy for individuals to come over here, be documented, pay taxes - immigration reform is needed to state that it's about work, it's not about welfare... Set up a grace period where they can get a work permit... social security card so that they can pay income tax, social security, Medicare." Feb. 14, 2012 Gary Johnson
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, stated the following in a speech delivered to the American University School of International Service in Washington, DC on July 1, 2010, as transcribed and posted by whitehouse.gov:
"[W]e have to demand responsibility from people living here illegally. They must be required to admit that they broke the law. They should be required to register, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English...
We need to provide farms a legal way to hire the workers they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status. And we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents by denying them the chance to stay here and earn an education and contribute their talents to build the country where they've grown up." July 1, 2010 Barack Obama
Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, stated the following in the Sep. 12, 2011 CNN and Tea Party Express Republican debate in Tampa, FL:
"The question began by saying how do we attract Latino voters. And the answer is by telling them what they know in their heart, which is they or their ancestors did not come here for a handout. If they came here for a handout, they'd be voting for Democrats. They came here for opportunity and freedom. And that's what we represent. And that's why we'll win collecting support from Latinos across the country. With regards to illegal immigration, of course we build a fence and of course we do not give instate tuition credits to people who come here illegally. That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America's great beneficence." Sep. 12, 2011 Mitt Romney
Jill Stein, MD, former Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, provides the following statement on her campaign website page "Where We Stand on the Issues," available at www.jillstein.org (accessed Sep. 13, 2012):
"Grant undocumented immigrants who are already residing and working in the United States a legal status which includes the chance to become U.S. citizens." Sep. 13, 2012 Jill Stein
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives (R-GA), stated the following in the Newt.org article "Immigration: 10 Steps to a Legal Nation" (accessed Feb. 16, 2012):
"There are currently anywhere from 8 to 12 million people living in the United States who entered illegally... We need a path to legality, but not citizenship, for some of these individuals who have deep ties to America... Applicants must first pass a criminal background check, and then the local committees will assess applications based on family and community ties, and ability to support oneself via employment without the assistance of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlement programs... The government will rigorously enforce a requirement that all individuals seeking this path to legality must be able to prove that they can independently pay for private health insurance. If an individual cannot prove this, they will lose the ability to stay in the United States... Moving forward, those who receive this status will have to prove on a regular basis that they can support themselves without entitlement programs and pay for health insurance or else risk the ability to stay in the United States." Nov. 5, 2011 Newt Gingrich
[Editor's Note: For additional context, we have provided the following statement from the Nov. 5, 2011 Republican presidential candidate debate with Herman Cain in The Woodlands, TX: "We should be able to identify everyone who gets emergency aid and every state should sue the federal government every year for every cent spent on illegals who should not be in the United States. That is the federal government's responsibility."]
Ron Paul, US Representative (R-TX), stated the following in his 2011 book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedoms:
"It's important to note that the greatest resentment [regarding immigration] comes from government-mandated free services and a government created unemployment crisis. Fix these two problems and finding a scapegoat for our economic crisis wouldn't be necessary.
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...
Stop all federal mandates on the states to provide free education and medical care for illegal immigrants." 2011 Ron Paul
Buddy Roemer, former Governor of Louisiana, stated the following in a Nov. 21, 2011 interview with online publication The Next Web titled "TNW Talks Tech with US Presidential Candidate Buddy Roemer," available at buddyroemer.com:
"Some people come to college here in the United States, and then we kick them out. That doesn’t make any sense. I’m from a family of immigrants, and two generations later I went to Harvard. Immigration is a necessary part of America’s future, and it must be legal. But to say that we need immigration is not to say that we have an excuse to do it illegally." Nov. 21, 2011 Buddy Roemer
Rick Santorum, former US Senator (R-PA), stated the following druing the June 13, 2011 Republican presidential debate in Manchester, NH, hosted by CNN, available at transcripts.cnn.com:
"QUESTION: As a naturalized American citizen who came here legally, I would like to know how you, as America -- as president, plan to prevent illegal immigrants from using our health care, educational, or welfare systems?
KING: Senator Santorum, why don't you lead off on that one?
SANTORUM: 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." Feb. 13, 2012 Rick Santorum