What's Changed? Here are the Positions of Recent Presidents on Immigration

What's Changed? Here are the Positions of Recent Presidents on Immigration

Created: 03 July, 2018
Last update: 21 November, 2022

Immigration is not a partisan issue, but the mainstream media and Congress have framed this current effort to fix our broken system as a partisan game, appealing to our lowest common denominators.

By all meaningful accounts, immigration reform needs to be addressed by Congress, and yet, our elected leaders double down on their partisan narratives, further dividing the country, giving oxygen to the extreme voices who offer no chance of solving this crisis.

This issue didn't start with President Trump, it's been a decades long battle that will continue long after the current administration is gone.

President Bill Clinton State Of The Union Speech 1995

In 1995, President Bill Clinton received bi-partisan praise and support during in his State of the Union speech in which he announced, "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... 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.” ~ Bill Clinton, 1995 State Of The Union Speech


President Obama's DACA Immigration Speech 2014

In 2014, President Barack Obama made an impassioned speech from the White House declaring our immigration system is "broken." He talked about a bipartisan immigration plan that was stuck in the house for a year and a half as then Speaker John Boehner refused to allow a vote be taken on the reforms. In his speech below Obama told Congress to, "Pass A Bill! I wanna work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution."


In the speech Obama noted, "Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we're also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, I believe that they must be held accountable, especially those who may be dangerous. Let's be honest, tracking down, rounding up and deporting millions of people isn't realistic, anyone who suggests otherwise isn't being straight with you. It's not who we are as Americans." ~ Barack Obama, 2014 DACA Speech

George W. Bush Immigration Plan 2006

In 2006, George W. Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office. "For decades," Bush started, "the United States has not been in complete control of its borders, as a result many in our economy have been able to sneak across our border and millions have stayed. Once here illegal immigrants live in the shadows of our society. Illegal immigration strains state and local budgets and brings crimes to our communities. Yet, the vast majority of illegal immigrants are decent people who work hard, support families and lead responsible lives. But we're a nation of laws and we must enforce those laws." ~ George W. Bush, Immigration Reform Speech 2006

President Bush had a 5-point plan that secured the border, expanded border patrol with National Guard troops, built a wall and high-tech fencing, created a temporary worker program with a path to citizenship, and held employers accountable for hiring illegal immigrants. President Bush was opposed to amnesty and catch and release.  Bush said, "The steps I'm taking will improve our ability to catch those entering our country illegally. We must ensure that every illegal immigrant we catch is returned to their home. The process of Catch and Release is unacceptable and we will end it. In order to meet this goal we've expanded the number of beds in our facilities, expedited the legal process to cut the deportation time, and making it clear governments must accept their citizens that have violated our immigration laws."

On June 29, 2007, this effort, like so many others before it, died in the Senate.

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About the Author

Jeff Powers

Jeff Powers is an award-winning journalist from San Diego, California, and has worked on IVN as a writer and editor. He has also worked on a number of local campaigns including SDSU West, Measures K & L, and other campaigns.