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Updated March 26, 2024

How do the 2024 presidential candidates compare on immigration issues?

Only 23% of Americans believe the government is doing a good job handling the influx of migrants seeking asylum at the border. Generally, Republicans and Democrats both agree that increased staffing is important at the border, though Republicans are stronger in this belief.

Similarly, both parties believe that the government should require people to apply for asylum before migrating to the U.S. However, Democrats are more likely to support increased aid to Central American countries and advocate for more sanitary conditions for asylum seekers. Republicans, on the other hand, generally believe that it should be harder for asylum seekers to be granted legal status with 52% believing it is “very important to require people seeking asylum in the U.S. to apply before they travel to the border.”


Authorized/Unauthorized Entry

Joe Biden (D):

In terms of legal immigration, Biden raised the refugee admission cap to 125,000, but ended up only using 20% of those refugee spots in 2022. In response, he opened a back door for immigration offering refuge to people from Ukraine, Haiti, and Latin America and promising faster work authorization. His humanitarian parole program has given temporary legal status to Latin American immigrants. He has also expanded the limits for family-based green cards, also known as chain migration. Biden has expressed his support for diversity and H-1B visas. In contrast to his relatively lax legal immigration policy, he previously extended Title 42, restricting immigration in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donald Trump (R):

He supports limits on legal immigration and visas, and raising visa fees to fund the border wall. He opposes the H-1B visa program which allows companies to employ foreign workers in specialized industries. As president, he banned travelers from majority-Muslim countries for 90 days via an executive order. He also slashed the State Department’s refugee resettlement program, limiting the yearly refugee admissions cap to 15,000.

Cornel West (Ind.):

Not enough information.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Ind.)

He advocates for more efficient asylum court judges to reduce the time per case.

The Border

Joe Biden (D): Against the completion of the wall.

He pushed for enhanced border security and deployed 23,000 agents at the border. He remains firmly against the construction of the wall; though he has built parts of the wall, the funds for those parts were already appropriated for them.

Marianne Williamson (D): Against the completion of the wall.

She has pushed to end the separation of families at the border and to reunite prior separations. She has also called to abolish ICE and instead redirect funding to processing centers.

Donald Trump (R): Supports the completion of the wall.

Building a wall was a signature promise of his presidential campaign. Under his presidency, a quarter of the border had been walled off.  His zero-tolerance policy separated migrant families, a policy that he has not ruled out recently. He would order a “massive increase” in border patrol agents to tighten surveillance at the border.

Cornel West (Ind.): Against the completion of the wall.

He is against the separation of families at the border. He also wishes to abolish ICE and to demilitarize the border.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Ind.): Supports the completion of the wall.

He has pitched the completion of the border wall, but has also emphasized collaboration with Mexico at the border. "As President, Kennedy is going to end the humanitarian crisis, starting with its most immediate cause — an uncontrolled border. As he seals the border to illegal immigration, his administration will enact deeper reforms to stem illegal migration in the long term, while expanding lawful, orderly immigration according to principles of justice and fairness," according to his campaign website.

Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary cities are cities that limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.

Joe Biden (D): Supports sanctuary cities.

His administration urged the Supreme Court to dismiss several pending cases concerning sanctuary cities.

Marianne Williamson (D): Supports sanctuary cities.

Her voter base has suggested that she believes that sanctuary cities should receive federal funding. 

Donald Trump (R): Against sanctuary cities.

As president, he signed an executive order to limit and prohibit certain federal funding to sanctuary cities.

Cornel West (Ind.): No stance found.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Ind.) No stance found.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Joe Biden (D): Supports DACA.

He proposed a plan to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by increasing health coverage for eligible recipients.

Marianne Williamson (D): Supports DACA.

She supports DACA, advocating to allow unauthorized immigrants to petition for a Green Card.

Donald Trump (R): Against DACA.

He attempted to end DACA under his presidency and his administration sought to reject new applications for it.

Cornel West (Ind.): Not enough information.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr (Ind.): Not enough information.


Joe Biden (D): Supports legal pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

He proposed an eight-year pathway for unauthorized immigrants to become legal citizens.

Marianne Williamson (D): Supports legal pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

She supports a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

He once tried to end birthright citizenship via an executive order. However, he once proposed a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized youth immigrants; this was done in exchange for tighter restrictions on legal immigration and greater funding for border security.

Cornel West (Ind.): Supports a legal pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

He supports the creation of a legal pathway of unauthorized immigrants for residency.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Ind.): Supports a legal pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

He advocates for a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

This blog was written by Harry Ding, content intern (Center bias). It was reviewed and edited by Editor-in-chief Henry A. Brechter (Center bias), content assistants Malayna Bizier (Right bias) and Johnathon Held (Lean Right bias), and News Editor Joseph Ratliff (Lean Left bias).