Sep 27, 2023 - Politics & Policy

GOP candidates agree on border wall, hard-line immigration policies

2024 Republican presidential candidates Doug Burgum, from left, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Senator Tim Scott and former US Vice President Mike Pence during a debate hosted by Fox Business Network in Simi Valley, California, US, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.

2024 Republican presidential candidates during a debate hosted by Fox Business Network in Simi Valley, California on Sept. 27. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republican presidential candidates touted hard-line immigration postures during the second GOP primary debate, aligning with party positioning but pushing policies broadly indistinguishable from one another's.

Why it matters: The Republican field has moved further to the right on immigration since the Trump administration — and extreme proposals have become mainstream views for many in the GOP.

  • Nearly every Republican running for president supports constructing a wall along the southern border, including candidates who were previously skeptical of the idea, Axios previously reported.

What they're saying: Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who has proposed a sweeping immigration platform, said during the debate that he would "seal" the southern border because "building the wall is not enough," but dodged a question about his proposals to stop fentanyl.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that he would declare the border a national emergency and reinstate the "Remain in Mexico" policy.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that questions over the southern border are "law enforcement" issues and that he would send the National Guard to the southern border.

  • Christie also criticized former President Trump for not building a wall across the entirety of the border.
  • "He said he was going to build a wall across the whole border. He built 52 miles of wall and said Mexico would pay for it," Christie said.

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley struck a similar tone as her GOP rivals and said, "we have to secure the border," by defunding sanctuary cities and increasing border patrol agents at the border, among other proposals.

Former Vice President Mike Pence called for fixing "a broken immigration system," in addition to securing the southern border and touted the Trump-administration's immigration policy.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott weighed in early on calls for stricter immigration policy and said that Biden should have been at the southern border, rather than the United Autoworkers picket line.

The other side: The Democratic National Committee War Room account on the social media platform, X, criticized Pence for his immigration comments.

  • "Mike Pence wants to bring back the immigration policies of the Trump-Pence administration, which undermined the American immigration system at every turn, used humans as political pawns, and left behind a backlog of immigration cases," the DNC account wrote.

The big picture: Crossings at the southern border have emerged as a flashpoint issue, as Republican governors have responded to unprecedented crossings with massive efforts to bus migrants to other destinations, Axios previously reported.

Go deeper: Scoop: Inside Trump's new plan to limit immigration

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