Trump vs. Clinton: Comparing Their Stances on Immigration Reform

The debate over immigration reform will be a central issue in the election.

ByABC News
September 1, 2016, 12:39 PM

— -- After a whirlwind Wednesday that took Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to Mexico City for a meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto and then to Arizona for a landmark speech on immigration, it’s clear that the debate over immigration reform will be a central issue for the remainder of the election cycle.

Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton outline their immigration positions on their campaign websites, providing detail that goes beyond the rhetoric of building a wall versus providing amnesty.

Here’s a look at where the candidates stand on immigration reform:

Border Security

“We’re going to build a wall,” Trump says at almost every campaign rally, “and Mexico is going to pay for it.”

His plan for a physical barrier at the border with Mexico has been well publicized, but after his meeting with Pena Nieto on Wednesday, Trump admitted that the two “did not discuss payment of the wall.”

The businessman has also called for triple the current number of Immigration Customs Enforcement officers.

In 2006, while a U.S. senator from New York, Clinton voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act, which proposed building 700 miles of barricades at various locations on the southern border.

Of Trump’s wall, Clinton has said that she does not think it “will ever happen” and that border security is not one of her priorities because net immigration from Mexico is nearing zero.

PHOTO: In this Jan. 4, 2016 photo, a U.S. Border Patrol agent patrols Sunland Park along the U.S.-Mexico border next to Ciudad Juarez, the New Mexico border town next to El Paso, Texas.
In this Jan. 4, 2016 photo, a U.S. Border Patrol agent patrols Sunland Park along the U.S.-Mexico border next to Ciudad Juarez, the New Mexico border town next to El Paso, Texas.

Paths to Citizenship

Clinton’ campaign website promises she will provide “a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days in office.”

She also supports Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provides legal status to children who arrive in the country illegally, as well as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, which would allow immigrant parents of children born in the U.S. to receive a work permit and avoid deportation.

Clinton has called for a lower cost process for those who wish to attain citizenship as well.

Trump, meanwhile, has lauded Mexican-Americans who have arrived in the U.S. legally, calling them “spectacular” and “hard-working,” but has not indicated much sympathy for those who are undocumented.

The only mention of citizenship in Trump’s immigration platform is a call for an end to birthright citizenship, which provides automatic citizenship to any children born in the country, regardless of their parents’ status.


Trump’s plan calls for the immediate return of all undocumented immigrants who have committed a crime, as well as enacting laws that additionally penalize crimes committed by those without legal status. He also would punish countries unwilling to take back their citizens by canceling visa programs with those nations.

Other Trump deportation programs would include automatic deportation for immigrant gang members, and a visa tracking system that increases penalties for immigrants who overstay their visas.

Clinton has indicated that she wishes to avoid deportations that break up families, but her site states that she will “focus resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety,” while ensuring that refugees are allowed to make a case to remain in the U.S.

Muslim Immigration and Refugees

In December, Trump called for barring foreign Muslims from entering the country — a move that was widely criticized by Democrats and his Republican primary opponents. Recently, he has adjusted his stance to focus on region rather than religion, saying that visitors and migrants from areas with known terrorist networks would be barred.

He has also proposed a database to track refugee practitioners of Islam, indicating concern that members of ISIS could attempt to enter the U.S. using a wave of refugees as a “Trojan horse.”

Clinton called Trump’s proposals “un-American” and has said she is willing to continue to accept Syrian refugees who arrive in the U.S. under the stringent screening process already in place.

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