Debate Questions for the Candidates

By CIS on June 26, 2024

The first presidential debate is Thursday evening, with immigration at the forefront of the national discourse. The issue significantly impacts the economy and jobs, national security, public safety, government spending, and more – and numerous polls confirm it is a top voter concern. Additionally, the debate comes on the heels of two Biden administrative amnesties (see here and here) and his Proclamation on Securing the Border. Therefore, the debate’s moderators, CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, are likely to ask both candidates questions about this critical issue. 

The topic of immigration is extraordinarily broad, making it challenging to speculate what will be asked. However, the Center's subject matter experts have offered several questions that should be asked.

For both candidates…

In March 2024 nearly 1 in 6 U.S. residents was foreign-born, the highest percentage in American history. In your opinion, is it possible to have too much immigration, and, if so, what is the maximum number of immigrants that the U.S. should take each year? (Jason Richwine)

The Biden administration has paroled in over 2 million inadmissible and removable aliens to the United States since 2021. Parole, however, is not a lawful immigration status and only provides temporary permission to enter the country. How does each candidate plan to enforce the departure of these parolees once their parole expires? (Elizabeth Jacobs)

Do you plan to create a specific pathway for Palestinian refugees from Gaza to come to the United States once the Israel-Hamas war is over? (Nayla Rush)

What is your plan to nudge American employers to hire the millions of American workers who have dropped out of the labor market and to wean them off of immigrant workers? (Jessica Vaughan)

The New York Times has reported an "explosion" in migrant child labor at dangerous worksites across America directly coinciding with the Biden administration's mass immigration policies, yet there have been zero reported worksite enforcement efforts aimed at putting an end to the exploitation. What will you do to remove illegal labor from these worksites and hold the employers accountable? (Jon Feere)

Everyone agrees that the border has to be better controlled, and more people need to be deported. But shouldn't we also end state and local sanctuary policies and require the use of E-Verify to make sure only legal workers are hired? (Steven Camarota)

For President Biden…

Why hasn’t DHS attempted to remove a single foreign student for advocating mass murder by Hamas during the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic demonstrations on college campuses? (George Fishman)

What possible benefits to our communities outweigh the high number of lives lost to criminal aliens over the past three years? (Jessica Vaughan)

In the immigration section of your 2020 campaign’s website, you complained that the Trump administration “still doesn’t have a coherent plan for the protection and processing of children and families”. On June 10, however, the Washington Post estimated that under your administration, the federal government has lost contact with about 135,000 unaccompanied children who entered illegally and were transferred to HHS for placement with sponsors in the United States. Would you say that your administration has a “coherent plan for the protection and processing of children”, and if so could you describe that plan? (Art Arthur)

What would you say to the parents of the young women and girls murdered by illegal immigrants released onto our streets pursuant to your administration’s mass release policies? (George Fishman)

For President Trump…

In 2016, you promised to deport 1 million illegal aliens per year, and yet over the course of four years, your administration failed to deport even 1 million. Now, you again promise a massive deportation program if you are elected. How do you intend to carry that plan out? (Art Arthur)

You have promised a "deportation effort," but how will you define success after four years? Does success mean reducing the illegal immigrant population by half? By three quarters? Please be specific. (Jason Richwine)

You said recently that every foreign student, regardless of their major, even those receiving associate’s degrees from junior colleges, should automatically be given permanent residence in the United States. Your campaign later partially walked that back, but could you clarify for us, here, tonight, what you meant? (Mark Krikorian)

In 2018, when you were president, you were criticized for saying Middle Easterners and possibly terrorists were in and around the migrant caravans. Knowing what we’ve learned lately about actual suspected terrorists crossing our borders, what can you tell us you really knew back then from intelligence briefings and what would you like to say to those critics today? (Todd Bensman)

Topics: Politics