Introduction: Minor Party Candidates and Immigration
With the high unfavorable ratings of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, many voters have come to the conclusion that neither deserves their votes for President. While some voters may stay home or leave the Presidential line on their ballots blank, others are looking toward minor-party alternatives or contemplating different write-in options entirely. For this reason, I thought that it would be interesting to examine the candidates' public statements and campaign platforms on immigration to provide undecided voters who know who they are voting against a better idea of who they are voting for. I hope that this analysis will give those considering a minor party candidate a better understanding of the candidates' public positions on one of our most pressing national issues. I will cover the following candidates:
- Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party)
- Jill Stein (Green Party)
- Darrell Castle (Constitution Party)
- Evan McMullin (No Affiliation)
I wrote a companion article on some interesting points and election scenarios involving these candidates. Please read that blog to learn more [see blog]. It is important to note that in addition to being able to write-in one of the four above candidates in states where your preferred choice is not on the ballot, one can, in theory, write-in whomever he or she wants for President. Some states will have candidates on the ballot who we do not discuss in this article. For this article, we will focus exclusively on the four minor party candidates with significant ballot access in the upcoming election.
In the following sections, we will look at the biographies of the most significant minor party candidates before assessing their discernible positions on important immigration issues.
The Libertarian Party is the only party aside from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party to have ballot access in all fifty states. This means that no matter which state you are voting in, you will find the Libertarian ticket on your ballot.
Interestingly, the Libertarian ticket boasts by far the most executive experience of any ticket in this election. While the Democratic ticket as a former Governor and the Republican ticket has a current Governor as Vice Presidential candidates, the Libertarian ticket has two former two-term Governors. The top of the ticket, Gary Johnson, served two terms as the Governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003. The Vice Presidential candidate, William Weld, served just over a term and a half as Governor of Massachusetts from 1991-1997. Although they now form the Libertarian ticket, both Johnson and Weld were Republicans during their tenures as Governors. For his part, Johnson in fact sought the Republican nomination for President in 2012, before dropping out of the race before the first votes were cast to run as a Libertarian.
The Libertarian ticket has polled the strongest nationally of all of the minor tickets. As of October 15, 2016, the Johnson-Weld ticket is polling at an average of 6.6% in the Real Clear Politics polling average [link]. If the ticket were to garner that much support in the general election, it would be the strongest performance nationally by a minor party ticket since Ross Perot in 1996 and by far the best performance for the Libertarian Party since the Party first fielded a Presidential ticket in 1972. However, despite his relative success, Johnson appears to be less of a threat to win a State than does Evan McMullin, who we will discuss later. Johnson's best chance is likely in his home state of New Mexico, where one poll taken by the Albuquerque Journal from September 27-29 pegged Johnson at a startling 24% of the vote, albeit still well behind Hillary Clinton.1 The political prognostication blog, FiveThirtyEight, also gives Johnson a slight chance to impress in Alaska, where there is very limited polling data available.2
Sampling of Noteworthy Endorsements3
- Republican U.S. Representative Scott Rigell (VA-2)
- Andrew Napolitano (former Judge and Fox News analyst)
- Marvin Bush (businessman and brother of George W. Bush and Jeb Bush)
- The Chicago Tribune
While Johnson and Weld are both former Republican Governors, their immigration proposals are in some cases to the left of Hillary Clinton's. This point becomes less surprising once one takes into account that the Libertarian Party, as opposed to many with certain libertarian inclinations, is broadly supportive of open borders and amnesty.
Gary Johnson's campaign website [link] focuses little on immigration. Johnson correctly opposes Trump's border wall, suggesting correctly that it would do little more than “increase the size of the ladders.” However, Johnson then opposes “militarizing” the border. While I have not heard for many calling for border “militarization,” border security is an important prerequisite to legalization, which Johnson broadly supports. Johnson's glib comment on border security betrays his lack of interest in ensuring that our immigration laws are enforced. Johnson then motions toward positive immigration reform such as prioritizing work visas, incentivizing the payment of taxes by noncitizens, and promoting assimilation into American society, but he does not offer any specifics for what these reforms should look like in practice.
In a CNN op-ed criticizing Trump's admittedly incoherent immigration proposals, Johnson betrayed serious problems in his own view of the issues.4 Like Clinton, Johnson supports comprehensive legalization without first prioritizing immigration enforcement [see blog]. Furthermore, while Johnson is correct to highlight how flaws in our immigration system make it counter-productively difficult for many people of good will with valuable skills to enter or remain legally in the United States, he attempts to justify those who enter or stay in violation of our laws because of these flaws. Johnson only sees half of the issue when he states that “[t]he way to stop illegal entry is to spend our resources making legal entry efficient for people coming here for the right reasons.” To be sure, making our immigration system more effective and efficient is both something that would be to the benefit of the United States and that would serve to curb illegal immigration. However, Johnson completely ignores enforcement of the immigration laws, which is the necessary other half of this equation. We see why when Johnson proposes eliminating all “caps … categories … quotas.” Johnson's concept of immigration lacks any focus on determining the specific types of immigrants that we want to admit for specific reasons. While I have my issues with Clinton regarding immigration, Johnson's support of open borders is indeed several notches to the left of Clinton.
Finally, one of the more troubling aspects of Johnson's “Libertarian” campaign is his reasons for endorsing President Obama's overreaching executive actions on immigration. As I noted in an earlier blog [see blog], Johnson praised the President's attempts to implement DACA-plus and DAPA not only on policy grounds, but also for “challenging Congress to action.” I am quite sure that “challenging Congress to action” is not a legal justification supporting the implementation of policies of questionable legality.
Like Gary Johnson, Jill Stein is a repeat candidate from 2012. The Green Party ticket will appear on the ballot in 45 states, making it easy for most who want to vote for Jill Stein for whatever reason to do so.
Neither Stein nor her running-mate, Amanju Baraka, has any experience in elective office. Stein is a practicing physician who has questioned the safety of vaccines5 and the supports those who argued in favor of the supposed danger of Wi-Fi on the brains of children.6 She ran for numerous offices in Massachusetts, but is most known for her Presidential run in 2012. Her running-mate, “human rights activist” Ajamu Baraka, blamed Battaglin Massacre not on the Islamic State terrorists who perpetrated it, but on France for their “crimes against Arabs, Muslims, and Africans.”7 If that were not perplexing enough, he has associated extensively with Kevin Barrett, a noted Holocaust denier and 9/11-truther (Baraka has subsequently stated that he disavows Holocaust denial).8
As of October 15, 2016, Real Clear Politics has Jill Stein at 2.3% nationally in its polling average [link]. Although Stein is not remotely in contention in any state, 2.3% would be the second best performance ever by a Green Party candidate, behind only Ralph Nader's 2.74% in 2000. However, it is worth noting that Stein's inclusion in national polls may be slightly misleading in that she does not have ballot access in all 50 states.
Stein's campaign website speaks little of immigration other than supporting legalization. In an interview with Vox, Stein took the position that our “immigration crisis” is caused by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the war on drugs in Mexico.9 Furthermore, she claimed that the Central American migrant crisis derives from our supporting “corporate coups” in Central America. In the same interview, Stein noted a “real downside” to temporary work visas, and she expressed support for “full citizenship for immigrants who have been here.” Unfortunately there was no follow-up question regarding her definitions of “full citizenship” (as opposed to partial citizenship?) and “immigrants.”
Like Clinton and Johnson, Stein disagreed with the Supreme Court failure to reverse the preliminary injunction against DAPA [link]. In this statement on her website, Stein called for “halting deportations” as well as passing the DREAM Act and a path to citizenship.
In short, Stein provides wacky immigration policies for those who finds proposals by both Hillary Clinton and Gary Johnson a bit too Draconian. For those drawn to her immigration platform, she and her running-mate have even more peculiar — and at times disturbing — views on the role of government and on foreign affairs in general.
The Constitution Party ticket will appear on the ballot in twenty-three states, meaning many Americans will have to write Darrell Castle in in order to cast a vote for him [link]. Neither Castle nor his running-mate, Scott Bradley, have ever served in elected office. For his part, Castle is a veteran of the Vietnam War and a personal injury attorney in Tennessee. Both Castle and Bradley have served in various capacities in the Constitution Party. Castle was the Party's Vice Presidential nominee in 2008, and his running-mate, Scott Bradley, won 5.7% of the vote in the U.S. Senate election in Utah in 2010 [link].10
Castle has not been polled nationally and does not appear to have significant support in any state. Unless a state where Castle is on the ballot is decided by a razor-thin margin, it is exceedingly unlikely that his presence in the race will leave any mark on the election.
Castle earned the notable endorsement of national radio-host and anti-Trump conservative, Glenn Beck.11
Castle appears to take a hard line on immigration enforcement. Although he says little on immigration relative to other points in his platform, Castle calls for stopping immigration completely “until the borders are secure.”12 His peculiar campaign call is based on what he characterizes as the Federal Government's constitutional duty to “protect the states from invasion.” Castle states that once border security has been achieved and when we know “who is coming and why,” “we can admit as many people as we want.” On those who are here illegally, Castle opposes granting “asylum” (amnesty?) to those who are here illegally. However, unlike Trump at times, Castle states that he would not “deport them wholesale.” While Castle opposes mass deportations, he is also categorically opposed to any legalization program under any circumstances.
While Castle is right in principle on the need to secure the border, his statement that all immigration should be shut down in the interim is arguably even more ridiculous than Trump's statements on the issue. Besides a total embargo being counterproductive to the U.S. interest, Castle fails to understand the role of positive immigration reform in creating a system of immigration laws that will lead to less illegal immigration. Given that this is Castle's starting point, one has to wonder what he would define as “securing the border” or policies for “admitting as many people as we want.” From his limited statements in this election, it is hard to see good cause to vote for Castle on the basis of his immigration proposals. However, if we could split the difference between Castle and Johnson, we would potentially be onto something promising.
Finally, last but certainly not least, we find Evan McMullin. McMullin, a registered Republican, was recruited by a group of anti-Trump Republicans to provide disaffected conservatives with an alternative. The 40-year old McMullin has no electoral experience, but he describes an interesting path to his candidacy on his campaign website [link]. McMullin served as a CIA operative for a decade, worked at Goldman Sachs, and was the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference. His running mate, Mindy Finn, is a Republican political operative from Texas who worked on Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign.
Despite only being listed on the ballot in eleven states, McMullin has arguably the best chance of having a marked effect on the election. As I discuss in my companion blog [see section], two recent polls in Utah indicate that McMullin has a legitimate chance to be the first candidate not running as a Democrat or Republican to carry a state since 1968. Evan McMullin is listed as an official write-in candidate in many states where he did not make the ballot.
Sampling of Notable Endorsements13
- Erick Erickson (Editor of the Resurgent)
- Jonah Goldberg (Columnist at the National Review)
- Bill Kristol (Editor of the Weekly Standard)
Additionally, McMullin has stated that he is receiving counsel on national security issues from retired general and former head of the National Security Agency, Michael Hayden.14
After examining the immigration platforms of Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Stein, and Castle, reading the principles for immigration reform set forth by McMullin is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. McMullin's platform conveys an understanding of the important concepts needed for effective immigration reform that recalls many of my preferred candidates in the Republican Primary [see blog]. You may find McMullin's immigration platform here [link].
McMullin provides effective critiques of the excesses of both Clinton and Trump on immigration. With regard to Clinton, he attacks her for “[making] clear that securing the border first is not a requirement for moving forward with her agenda.” As you will find, this is one of my main issues with Clinton's immigration proposals [see blog]. Regarding Trump, McMullin notes Trump's “hateful and divisive rhetoric” (which is counterproductive to improving immigration enforcement even without taking into account its toxicity), plans to build a wall across the entire border, and statements suggesting that he would deport every person in the United States illegally.
Regarding immigration enforcement, McMullin suggests increasing the number of Border Patrol agents, investing in new technologies on the border, and completing limited walls and fences in strategic areas where they are already being built. McMullin proposes mandating the use of E-Verify nationwide and opposes President Obama's “executive amnesties” that are known as DACA and DAPA. To be sure, I would like to see more details from McMullin. For example, he does not address the myriad flaws with E-Verify [see blog] or give a picture of how he would address overstays beyond improved employment verification.
With regard to the disposition of those who are here illegally, McMullin proposes earned legalization after the border is secured. Such legalization would require registration, an application with a fee and a fine, a background check, and testing in English proficiency. After obtaining legalization, persons would have to maintain status for “several years” before applying for permanent residency. McMullin does not state how long a person who was granted legalization would have to maintain status before applying for permanent residency.
While McMullin's plan lacks in details, he shows a clear understanding of the general principles. Legalization is ultimately necessary, but it must come after improved border security and enforcement and not incentivize further violations of immigration law. That McMullin understands these basic principles is more than can be said of any of his opponents in the race, at the very least.
On reforming legal immigration, McMullin again provides solid principles while admittedly lacking in detail. McMullin argues — correctly — that our immigration system “mistakenly prioritizes the reunification of extended families” over bringing “[t]he best and the brightest from all over the world … to live and work in America.” McMullin suggests that immigration reform must reorient our immigration system to more emphasize attracting highly skilled workers with necessary skills over family reunification, which often attracts lower-skilled workers who compete with American workers who are also less skilled. Again, while I would certainly want to hear much more on McMullin's specific proposals, he understands one of the fundamental flaws in our immigration system as it is currently constituted.
However, McMullin did not properly appreciate the risk of the Syrian refugee program given the unique security situation in Syria and the deficiencies of our refugee vetting system.15
Of the choices available in 2016, it seems quite possible, if not likely, that McMullin is the deepest thinker on immigration issues. This is just a cursory summary of his stated positions from his website, and it is possible he has gone into more detail already in other forums. One would have to think that given his experience as a top policy adviser to the House Republican Caucus, he may have some interesting proposals based on the principles enunciated in his campaign platform.
Whether one should consider one of the minor party candidates depends on a careful evaluation of the two major party candidates and the stakes involved in this election. Nevertheless, it has been interesting looking at some surface materials on their immigration platforms. For those looking for alternative voices in this terrible election season, McMullin seems worth the consideration the voters of Utah are giving him, regardless of one ultimately intends to vote for him.
To read more of my posts on immigration issues and the November elections, please see my series of blog posts on the subject [see blog].
- Coleman, Michael, “Clinton, Trump in tight race in New Mexico,” abqjournal.com, (Oct. 2, 2016)
- Silver, Nate, “Election Update: The Craziest End To The 2016 Campaign Runs Through New Mexico,” fivethirtyeight.com, (Oct. 2, 2016)
- Johnson, Gary, “Gary Johnson: Build a better immigration system, not a wall,” cnn.com, (Aug. 29, 2016)
- Weigel, David, “Jill Stein on vaccines: People have 'real questions,'” washingtonpost.com, (Jul. 29, 2016)
- Doanvo, Anhvinh, “Jill Stein: The liberal pseudo scientific demagogue,” thehill.com, (Aug. 5, 2016)
- Resnick, Gideon, “The Wild Beliefs of Ajamu Baraka, Jill Stein's Green Party Running Mate,” thedailybeast.com (Oct. 17, 2016)
- Jewish Times, “US Green Party VP pick disavows Holocaust denial,” timesofisrael.com, (Aug. 16, 2016)
- Stein, Jeff, “A conversation with Jill Stein: what the Green Party candidate believes,” vox.com, (Sep. 14, 2016)
- Wright, Susan, “Glenn Beck Turns Disappointment Into A Third Party Vote,” redstate.com, (Oct. 11, 2016)
- Wright, Susan, “Constitution Party Candidate Darrell Castle In His Own Words,” redstate.com, (Aug. 13, 2016)
- Kornbluh, Jacob, “Interview with Evan McMullin: 'Time for something new,'” jewishjournal.com, (Aug. 30, 2016)
- Allahpundit, “Evan McMullin: I support a path to legalization for illegals once the border is secure,” redstate.com, (Aug. 16, 2016)