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.
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.
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.”