In the first heated segment of the night, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz went at it over the topic of illegal immigration, with each candidate claiming they were the strongest opponents of amnesty.
The initial question – leveled at Trump – asked if he supported amnesty due to his claims that the “good ones [illegals]” will come back under his plan.
“We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out, they will come back, some will come back, the best, through a process … it may not be a very quick process, but I think that’s very fair and very fine,” said Trump.
Cruz responded to this by citing the dramatic benefits the state of Arizona has seen since they adopted tough laws on illegal immigrants, which has caused illegals to flee the state.
“The dollars they [Arizona] are spending on welfare, on prison, on education, all of those have dropped by hundreds of millions of dollars, and the Americans, and for that matter the legal immigrants who are in Arizona, are seeing unemployment drop, are seeings wages rise, that’s who we should be fighting for,” said Cruz.
Most importantly, Cruz voiced his opinion that it would be unfair to reward any lawlessness on behalf of illegal immigrants, regardless of whether they are the best. “I think it is a mistake to forgive those who break law, to allow them to become U.S. citizens, and that’s why I’ve led the fight against granting citizenship to those here illegally,” Cruz said.
Trump responded to this by citing his recent endorsement by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, who is largely regarded as “America’s toughest sheriff.”
“Well, I’m very glad that Ted mentioned Arizona, because probably the toughest man on borders is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and two days ago, he totally endorsed me, so thank you,” Trump responded.
Not to miss an opportunity to jab both his top opponents, Marco Rubio claimed that Cruz was not always tough on immigration, but more importantly that Donald Trump has made a practice of hiring and rewarding illegal immigrants.
“In 2011, he [Cruz] talked about a pathway to citizenship. In 2012, Donald criticized Mitt Romney, saying Mitt lost his election because of self deportation, and so even today we have a report that Donald, you’ve hired a significant number of people from other countries to take jobs that Americans could have filled,:” Rubio said. He continued, “My mom was a maid at a hotel, and instead of hiring an American like her you’ve brought in over a thousand people from all over the world to fill those jobs instead. So I think this is an important issue.”
Trump rebuffed these accusations by claiming the times he hired illegals were during the height of the season in Miami when he couldn’t find Americans to take the part time, low income positions.
Marco countered this by citing that Donald has even been fined for hiring illegal workers, to which Trump rebuttled, “I’m the only one on the stage who has hired people!”