Democrats & Leftists Who Once Favored Enforcement of Immigration Laws

Democrats & Leftists Who Once Favored Enforcement of Immigration Laws


Barbara Boxer1993:

• Senator Boxer said that the “shortage of border patrol agents” was “a problem.” “I look forward to working [with them] to slow this illegal immigration to a trickle,” she added. “And I think it can be done.” (Source)

Cesar Chavez, Ralph Abernathy, & Walter Mondale 1964-1979

• “Chavez fought illegal immigration tenaciously. In 1969, he marched to the Mexican border to protest farmers’ use of illegal aliens as strikebreakers. He was joined by Reverend Ralph Abernathy and Senator Walter Mondale. In the mid 1970s, he conducted the ‘Illegals Campaign’ to identify and report illegal workers … [Biographer Miriam Pawel] quotes a memo from Chavez that said, ‘If we can get the illegals out of California, we will win the strike overnight.’ The Illegals Campaign didn’t just report illegals to the (unresponsive) federal authorities…. [T]he United Farm Workers patrols were willing to use direct methods when persuasion failed. Housed in a series of tents along the Arizona border, the crews in the wet line sometimes beat up illegals, … to prevent crossings.” (Source)

Bill Clinton, in his 1995 State Of The Union Address:

• “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. The jobs they 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 as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. 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.” (Source)

Hillary Clinton, June 2014:

• “We have to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay…. They should be sent back.” (Source)

Dianne Feinstein, 1988:

• “There are well over 300,000 today [in California] who are illegal aliens. That presents obvious problems.” (Source)

• “My position has been, we need to enforce our borders, we can do it.” (Source)

Dianne Feinstein, 1993:

• “Mexico must do its share, because the day when America could be the welfare system for Mexico is gone. We simply can’t afford it.” (Source)

• “It’s a competition for space, whether the space is a job, the space is a home, a place in a classroom, it becomes a competition for space.” (Source)

• “This is a country that’s based on immigration and we all know that. And yet, at times you become so over-taxed, you have to concentrate on saying, ‘The people who should be here are those who come legally at this time.’ And we’ve got to, for the time being, enforce our borders.” (Source)

Dianne Feinstein, 1994:

• “Border control is a federal responsibility. We simply don’t enforce our borders adequately.” (Source)

• In alarmist tones, Feinstein noted that each day some 2,000 people were crossing “illegally” into California, where they would inevitably “compete for housing [and] classroom space.” (Source)

Glenn Greenwald, 2005:

• “Illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” (Source)

Barbara Jordan, 1994-1995:

• “[I]mmigration to the United States should be understood as a privilege, not a right. Immigration carries with it obligations to embrace the common core of the American civic culture, to seek to become able to communicate – to the extent possible – in English with other citizens and residents, and to adapt to fundamental constitutional principles and democratic institutions.” — June 28, 1995 (Source)

• “As a nation of immigrants committed to the rule of law, this country must set limits on who can enter and back up these limits with effective enforcement of our immigration law.” — August 3, 1994 (Source)

• “Unless there is a compelling national interest to do otherwise, immigrants should be chosen on the basis of the skills they contribute to the U.S. economy.” — Barbara Jordan, June 28, 1995 (Source)

• “Immigrants with relatively low education and skills may compete for jobs and public services with the most vulnerable of Americans, particularly those who are unemployed or underemployed.” — June 28, 1995 (Source)

• “Immigration policy must protect U.S. workers against unfair competition from foreign workers, with an appropriately higher level of protection to the most vulnerable in our society” — June 28, 1995 (Source)

• “If we cannot control illegal immigration, we cannot sustain our national interest in legal immigration. Those who come here illegally, and those who hire them, will destroy the credibility of our immigration policies and their implementation.” — September 29, 1994 (Source)

• “[W]e disagree, also, with those who label our efforts to control illegal immigration as somehow inherently anti-immigrant. Unlawful immigration is unacceptable.” — February 24, 1995 (Source)

• “Illegal aliens have no right to be in this country. They are not part of our social community. There is no intention that they integrate. — August 9, 1994 (Source)

• “The top priorities for detention and removal, of course, are criminal aliens. But for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process.” — February 24, 1995 (Source)

• “If people unauthorized to enter believe that they can remain indefinitely once having reached the interior of the nation, they may be more likely to come.” — August 3, 1994 (Source)

• “There are people who argue that some illegal aliens contribute to our community because they may work, pay taxes, send their children to our schools, and in all respects except one, obey the law. Let me be clear: that is not enough.” — September 29, 1994 (Source)

• “[I]t is a debasement of the concept of citizenship to make it the route to welfare…. We want immigrants to be motivated to naturalize in order to vote, to be fully participating members of our polity-to become Americans. We don’t want to motivate law abiding aliens to naturalize just so that they can get food stamps, health care, job training, or their homes tested for lead.” —February 24, 1995 (Source)

Paul Krugman, 2006: 

• “[I]mmigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants.… [T]he fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear…. We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.” (Source)

Terry McAuliffe, 2007:

• In an interview with Southern California public radio station KPCC on January 30, 2007, McAuliffe called for the United States to “shut these borders down” and to deport illegal aliens who were “taking our jobs” back to “the countries they came from.” “We got to shut these borders down, absolutely,” McAuliffe said at the time. “These people shouldn’t be coming in this country. We need to enforce our border protections … for the people who have not been here, who have been here illegally, and who have taken advantage of the situation, we need to have a plan to get them back to the countries they came from…. I don’t care if you are Democrat or Republican, we all agree you got to shut the borders down. People coming into our nation, taking our jobs … first and foremost, which I couldn’t agree more, we got to shut these borders down. And we got to spend more money on the enforcement of this and we got to start it today.”

Barack Obama, 2006:

• “[T]here’s no denying that many blacks share the same anxieties as many whites about the wave of illegal immigration flooding our Southern border — a sense that what’s happening now is fundamentally different from what has gone on before. Not all these fears are irrational…. The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century. 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…. Native-born Americans suspect that it is they, and not the immigrant, who are being forced to adapt. And if I’m honest with myself, I must admit that I’m not entirely immune to such nativist sentiments. When I see Mexican flags waved at pro-immigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.” (Source)

• “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.” Obama was talking about the Secure Fence Act of 2006, legislation authorizing a barrier along the southern border passed into law with the support of 26 Democratic senators including party leaders like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Charles Schumer. (Source)

Harry Reid, 1993:

• “Our borders have overflowed with illegal immigrants placing tremendous burdens on our criminal justice system, schools and social programs.”(Source)

• “Our federal wallet is stretched to the limit by illegal aliens getting welfare, food stamps, medical care and other benefits, often without paying taxes.” (Source)

• “Safeguards like welfare and free medical care are in place to boost Americans in need of short-term assistance. These programs were not meant to entice freeloaders and scam artists from around the world.” (Source)

• “Even worse, Americans have seen heinous crimes committed by individuals who are here illegally.” (Source)

• “If making it easy to be an illegal alien isn’t enough, how about offering a reward for being an illegal immigrant? No sane country would do that, right? Guess again. If you break our laws by entering this country without permission and give birth to a child, we reward that child with U.S. citizenship and guarantee a full access to all public and social services this society provides – and that’s a lot of services.” (Source)

Bernie Sanders, 2015:

In July 2015, two months after officially announcing his candidacy for president, Sanders was interviewed by Ezra Klein, the editor in chief of Vox. Klein asked whether, in order to fight global poverty, the U.S. should consider “sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders.” Sanders reacted with horror. “That’s a Koch brothers proposal,” he scoffed. He went on to insist that “right-wing people in this country would love … an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country.” (Source)

Charles Schumer, 2009:

• “Illegal immigration is wrong. A primary goal of comprehensive immigration reform must be to dramatically curtail future illegal immigration.” (Source)

• “Operational control of our borders, through significant additional increases in infrastructure, technology and border personnel must be achieved within a year of enactment.” (Source)

• “A biometric-based employment verification system with tough enforcement and auditing is necessary to significantly diminish the job magnet that attracts illegal aliens to the United States and to provide certainty and simplicity for employers.” (Source)

• “All illegal aliens present in the United States on the date of enactment of our bill must quickly register their presence with the United States government and submit to a rigorous process of converting to legal status and earning the path to citizenship, or face imminent deportation.” (Source)

• “We must create a system that converts the current flow of primarily low skill illegal immigrants into the United States into a more manageable and controlled flow of legal immigrants who can be absorbed by our economy.” (Source)

Additional Resources:


Democrats on Immigration, Before and After Trump

Bill Clinton Talking about Illegal Immigration in the 1995 State of the Union Address

Schumer, Feinstein Voted for a Border Fence in 2006

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