- Associated Press - Friday, September 5, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Immigration may not be as incendiary an issue in Massachusetts as it is in border states like Arizona and Mexico, yet the approach the state should take to those in the country illegally can still spark strong emotions.

Those emotions were most recently on display when Gov. Deval Patrick offered to host unaccompanied children crossing the nation’s southern border at one of two military bases in the state.

Each of the five Democratic and Republican candidates for governor has outlined immigration policies ahead of Tuesday’s primaries.

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MARTHA COAKLEY

Coakley said as attorney general she’s worked with immigrant communities to address problems like domestic violence and gangs, and to protect workers from being exploited, regardless of their legal status.

If elected governor, the Democrat says she would support Patrick’s order extending in-state tuition rates to the children of immigrants in the U.S. illegally. She said she’d also support the so-called DREAM Act, which would provide a path to legal status for many young immigrants in the country illegally.

Coakley also said changes to the federal Secure Communities program should be considered. Critics say the program, designed to help identify dangerous criminals in the country illegally, has also led to arrests and possible deportation for relatively minor crimes.

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MARK FISHER

Fisher, a tea party-affiliated Republican and businessman, said he supports legal immigration and has employed immigrants who have come to the country after obtaining green cards allowing them to live in the country.

“They saw America as a land of opportunity,” Fisher said. “Having played by the rules has made them and our country better.”

But Fisher said those who come into the country and state illegally are harming the economy and threatening the state’s survival.

As governor, Fisher said he would turn off what he calls the “benefit magnet.” He said if Massachusetts becomes stricter about denying benefits to immigrants here illegally, they will “self-deport to the next blue, sanctuary state to receive their benefits.”

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DONALD BERWICK

Berwick says he supports driver’s licenses for Massachusetts residents in the country illegally and in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities for students living in Massachusetts regardless of immigration status.

The Democrat also said he opposes the federal Secure Communities program and supports the so-called TRUST Act, which would bar local police from detaining suspects for possible deportation unless they were charged with serious or violent crimes.

He said he’d work to reduce waiting lists for immigrants wanting to learn English and would support immigrant entrepreneurs.

“An inclusive, welcoming community that encourages integration and celebrates diversity has been, and will continue to be, a key ingredient for a strong state and nation,” he said.

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STEVEN GROSSMAN

Grossman says he supports in-state tuition rates for all immigrants including those in the country illegally, saying it would provide the state’s 29 public colleges and universities with about $2 million in new revenues during the first year alone.

The Democratic state treasurer also said he supports providing all immigrants - regardless of their legal status - with driver’s licenses, calling it is a critical issue of public safety and fairness.

Grossman also said the Secure Communities program is “fundamentally flawed” and is tearing families apart. He said he would work to make communities safer while treating all people with empathy and compassion.

“It’s time to make fairness and common sense central ingredients of our state’s immigration policy,” Grossman said.

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CHARLIE BAKER

Baker faulted political leaders in Washington for failing to reach a solution to the immigration crisis, leaving states to deal with their inaction.

Baker has said the state should take steps to exclude immigrants in the country illegally from public housing including automatically give preference to citizens and legal immigrants who are currently on lengthy waiting lists for subsidized housing.

“We are a nation of immigrants,” Baker said. “I value the diversity created by legal immigration that continues to shape our commonwealth in positive ways.”

The 2010 Republican nominee for governor also said that while states should work with the federal government to help provide emergency assistance, Massachusetts shouldn’t become the “steward or the financier” of those services - referring to Patrick’s offer to temporarily shelter unaccompanied children.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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