Dr. Bob Beatty, KSNT: If the U.S. creates a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally, what criteria should people meet to qualify?
Pat Roberts (R): Obviously, we don’t have that now so we have to secure the border first. Let me explain it one more time. The Department of Homeland Security just announced that 167,000 convicted felons have come across the border. They are somewhere in the United States. We have no idea where they are. If you are going to deal with the immigration problem, you have to secure the border first. The House of Representatives sent a bill over to the Senate. By the way, the Senate is a place where good bills go to die because Harry Reid will not allow them for consideration. That bill did two things. He gave money to secure the border, and it changes the law so that every country knows that it is the same law that applies to Canada and Mexico. Illegals, when you come across the border, you go back. If we do that, we can get to immigration in all of the complexities of that kind of bill. But first we have to secure the border.
Greg Orman (I): I have talked at length from the beginning of this campaign about my policy on immigration. I believe our policy needs to be tough, practical, and fair. By tough, I mean we need to secure the border. We have increased the number of border security agents over the last 10 years from about 10,500 to 21,000, and I think we need to maintain that commitment, and that it needs to be practical. I don’t think we are going to find and deport 11.5 million people, nor would it be economically advisable. There are whole industries in Kansas, the dairy industry, the meat packing industry, the agriculture sector that would be decimated by such a policy. How do we make it fair to taxpayers? if you are here on an undocumented basis, you have to register, pay a fine or perform community service. You need to hold down a job and pay taxes. By the way I will point out, this is the same plan that 14 Republican Senators signed on to including many that came to support Senator Roberts.
Pat Roberts (R): Again, you are not going to make any progress with regards to immigration as long as the majority leader, Harry reid, stays in power. President Obama has threatened, or at least at has been reported in the press, that he could by executive order declare amnesty for illegal aliens and also his total immigration policy. That is something I think is absolutely wrong, and it involves securing the border and amnesty, and no amnesty before anything else can happen. My opponent cannot stand up to the Obama agenda.
Greg Orman (I): I do not support amnesty. You just heard my immigration policy, and it ends with allowing people to work here and follow set rules. Senator Roberts wants to talk about how the Senate is the place where good bills go to die. I don’t remember what he said. The Senate is the only body that is acted on immigration reform. Fourteen Republican Senators approved it, including John McCain and Lindsay Graham, approved it, and it is still not happening. I would also stand up and say the President Obama should not act by executive action, but that is what is wrong with Washington today. Nothing gets done.
Moderator: Let me ask you, if these people are already in the country now, do we need a change our policies? If they are going to be working in a system already, what would you do? You cannot deport thousands?
Pat Roberts (R): I never really said we should deport 11,000 people. You cannot really deport them. That is impossible. I do think we ought to obey the law. I do think we should say no to amnesty. My opponent said he was for amnesty in the first
Special Section | Kansas Senate Debate
Kansas Senate Debate Question by Question
- Opening remarks
- Immigration: Responsibility for the children
- Immigration: Criteria for citizenship
- Foreign Policy: Afghanistan, Iraq and ISIS
- Viewer question: Ebola
- Kansas ties: How are you connected to Kansas?
- Jobs: Aviation jobs in Wichita
- Jobs: Recovery of the U.S. economy
- Health Care: Controlling cost without restricting access
- Abortion: Abortion regulations
- Viewer question: Gun control, ownership
- Agriculture: Water sustainability
- Agriculture: The Farm Bill
- Tell us something good about your opponent
- Closing Remarks
- Web Exclusive: Question for Pat Roberts
- Web Exclusive: Question for Greg Orman
- Craig Andres, KSN News
- Dr. Bob Beatty, KSNT
- Brian Lowry, The Wichita Eagle
- Tim Carpenter, The Topeka Capital-Journal