Ohio Governor a Moderate Voice on Immigration

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When it comes to immigration reform, Ohio Gov. John Kasich ranks among the most moderate presidential candidates of the Republican Party.

Kasich is open to allowing unauthorized immigrants U.S. citizenship, but he also has consistently called for amending the U.S. Constitution to end birthright citizenship for children born to parents who are in the country illegally.

As a former U.S. House member and then governor, Kasich also has worked to stop human trafficking and exploitation of immigrants.

He has voted for federal legislation to increase visa numbers for highly skilled immigrants and those with special talents.

Kasich has annoyed some Republicans for saying he would consider keeping some of President Obama’s reforms, including deferred action programs. “I’m open to it,” he’s said. “I would take nothing off the table.”

During an interview with the Columbus Dispatch in 2014, Kasich said his views on immigration policy had “evolved” over the years.

“The country needs healing,” he said. “I wouldn’t ever be one to tell you that I don’t change my mind or that my thinking doesn’t evolve. … I’m also a different guy than I was years ago. This job grows you up.”

Kasich said, if elected president, he would be open to allowing a path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the country. However, he’s also said, “I don’t like it when people ditch the line” — when unauthorized immigrants get ahead of those waiting decades to work their way through the federal system legally.

He says it’s not practical, humane or even possible to deport 11 million people, so forget deportation: "I'm not for putting them on a school bus, driving them to the border, opening the door and just telling them to get out.”

As a member of Congress, Kasich built a solid voting record in support of tightening border security.

Before considering legal status for the 11 million, Kasich says the country needs to plug the leaks in the U.S.-Mexico border: “Finish the fence, use modern technologies, drones, sensors and all these things.”

Tea party groups supported Kasich when he ran for Ohio governor but their support has eroded, in part because of his moderate views on immigration reform. Many conservatives believe his approach is granting amnesty to unauthorized immigrants and rewarding them for breaking the laws. Critics believe it will only encourage more illegal immigration.

The governor also has drawn fire from the political right for his reluctance to make E-Verify screening mandatory. The federal database system allows employers to check the immigration status of prospective and current employees.

Kasich is the grandson of Czech and Croatian immigrants. He grew up in McKees Rocks, Penn., outside of Pittsburgh.

At the Republican Governors Association meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., in 2014, Kasich said the next president may have to be willing to sacrifice some principles in order to bring the country together.

“My sense is I don’t like the idea of citizenship when people jump the line, [but] we may have to do it,” Kasich said.

“Everybody in this country has to feel as though they have an opportunity.”

He agrees with fellow Republicans and Democrats and most everyone in the nation on the need for fixing a system that hasn’t worked for decades.

“Our country needs a long-term, comprehensive solution to an immigration policy that everyone knows is broken,” he has told reporters frequently on the campaign trail.