U.S. House Race in California on Immigration

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Immigration reform has been a big topic being addressed by many candidates right now, especially under Trump administration becoming more restricted and harder for immigrants to obtain jobs and attain legal status. Some of the questions and controversies in immigration include illegal immigrants without legal status to stay in the U.S., sponsoring workers from foreign countries. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from the Republican party and Businessman Harley Rouda from the Democratic party are both electing for California’s 48th Congressional District U.S. House of Representatives. In a 25-minutes debate moderated by Rick Riff between the two candidates on Monday 10/15/2018 in Santa Ana, the two candidates were asked what issues are most important to them. According to Los Angeles Time, “Rohrabacher brought up immigration” and “it’s the first time the immigration issue has been debated by the two or come up as a major issue in the race” (LA Times, Oct 25, 2018).

Immigration has been the main issue that Rohrabacher is focusing on thus forcing Rouda having to respond to his strong oppositions. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher have been in position and representing the district for 29 years now, and is also a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, particularly on immigration policy and the construction of a border wall. He also focuses on other prominent issues such as problems with the veteran administration, tax extenders, transportation funding, and National Security Administration (NSA). Nevertheless, as mentioned in the debate with candidate Harley, immigration has weighed heavily to his concern compared to the other issues. Rohrabacher have three main focuses on immigration policy that he is strongly in support or in action of. The first focus is that there are way too many illegal immigrants who are currently staying in the country with their expired legal visas or who have crossed the border without proper documentation. He supports current legal immigrants who has gone through the complete processes and procedure of obtaining a legal status, but strongly opposes proposals to give illegal immigrant the legal status to stay in the country. “Congressman Rohrabacher is committed securing our border and ensure that legal visitors to the United States leave our nation when their permission to be here expires.” (“Immigration,” n.d.)

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The second focus is successfully implementing the two bills that he wrote in cutting illegal immigration. The first goal that he aims for is legalizing H.R. 3934, the No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act of 2017, which is to restrict illegal immigrants on receiving social security upon retirement. Another important goal for him is having the funding source for border security proposed by President Trump with Rohrabacher’s introduction of H.R. 2724, the Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Act of 2017. Rohrabacher wrote a bill that would end the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which reserves 50,000 visas to random individuals from eligible countries, “and replaces it with a system by which an immigrant could pay a fee to receive expedited processing of their green card application” (“Immigration,” n.d.). All the collected fund from this new expedite green card application program would then go to the Secretary of Homeland Security for border security (“Immigration,” n.d.). The third focus is standing firm on his position on three out of five area of immigration related congressional votes and co-sponsorships: Chain Migration and Visa Lottery, Importing Specific Foreign Workers, and Citizenship for Illegal Alien Babies (“Numbersusa” n.d.).

Rohrabacher has been voting and co-sponsoring bills in these three areas since 1995. He is co-sponsoring “bill to eliminate visa lottery” and “bill to end non-nuclear family chain migration”, eliminating green cards provided to family members other than parents, which would indirectly reduce the number of overall immigrations (“Numbersusa” n.d.). Cosponsoring the bill to reduce the number of worker visas has been an obvious intention for him to protect American workers more in the job market. In addition to that, supporting and cosponsoring bill to increase workplace verification is an important component in “preventing illegal aliens from taking jobs from those who have the right to work in this country, and in removing the job magnet for illegal immigration” (“Numbersusa” n.d.). Attaching to the content in Rolrabacher’s stance on illegal immigrants, he cosponsors the “legislation to deny U.S. citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal aliens” to prevent additional U.S. population growth and brining extended family member into the country legally (“Numbersusa” n.d.). It is very clear that Rohrabacher is leading in the way to President Trump in all the three focuses he strongly advocate for and support in Trump’s path of helping republicans making these policy changes happen. He stands very strong on his feet since some of his policy focuses have been moving in a fast pace in being implemented. Businessman Harley Rouda have identified himself simply as “a successful businessman who created jobs and treated his employees well,” and he also “contrasts himself with Rohrabacher, who he calls a career politician and says is tied to Russia and special interests” (“Harley Rouda” n.d.).

Rouda also disclosed that he used to be a Republican before Trump’s election and left due to social conservative policies in turn running for election as a Democrat. He focuses on issues such as economy, high-quality education, gun control reform, health care, and environment as listed on his website. However, other issues were not stated on the website but rather appeared in his 2018 Campaign website including issues on foreign affairs, women’s issue, LGBTQ, and immigration in addition to the issues addressed in detail on his website. Rouda does not focuses on the issues that are the same as what Rohrabacher focuses on but immigration. He supports comprehensive immigration reform including reversing the Muslim ban and supporting student visas and looks at immigration as an economic issue and is also about family values. He supports protecting the border but is against separating families at the border, which is definitely against Rohrabacher cosponsoring ending the bill to end non-nuclear family chain migration.

Moreover, in regard to Rohrabacher’s strong opposition on deporting all the illegal immigrants, including those who were brought to the country illegally as children, the Dreamers, he stated in the debate moderated by Rick Reiff that what’s wrong with Washington is that there’s “corruption and the self-serving interest of trying to keep your job vs. putting your country forward in the right way – through bipartisan, strong legislation – is why we need new leadership” (LA Times, Oct 16, 2018). Moreover, Rouda also stated that he agrees with providing or supporting healthcare for undocumented adult immigrants, with supporting his own words of “Medicare for all” as in “for all residents of the United States of America” (LA Times, Oct 16, 2018). However, his stance on immigration has not been very stable and coherent in questions or oppositions Rohrabacher has been taking on. As mentioned above, immigration was not even addressed as an issue on his website thus did not give the impression of the level of importance for immigration is higher any other issues he addressed on his website. Kevin Kensinger is an independent candidate who is running for election to the U.S. House to represent the 48th Congressional District of California, just like Dana Rohrabacher and Harley Rouda.

However, both of them are running for the general election and he’s not. According to the Ballotpedia’s candidate survey on June 3, 2018, Kensinger would consider his top three priorities to be “Universal Single Payer Healthcare (Medicare-For-All), unrigging the economy, and rehabilitating the environment”; and is personally passionate about “Criminal Justice Reform, Wall Street Reform, Tax Reform, Immigration Reform, Medicare-For-All, and the Environment and Equal Rights” (“Kevin Kensinger” n.d.). Moreover, he did not have a lot of press release or news that are spreading his focus on different issues that he strongly advocates or agree with, and definitely not on immigration. Immigration has been a top topic of discussion addressed very broadly and frequently compared to the other policy issues ever since President Donald Trump was elected. All of the very recent policies being introduced are the result of the Presidential Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American signed in April 2017.

Most of the policy changes are surrounding the theme of promoting American-made products using American labor force for the production of goods and theme of deporting illegal immigrants. This then leads to bombarding changes to programs and policies relating foreign workers and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). H-1B visa for foreign workers have been reducing in number of issuances, and increased challenges and issuance of RFE (Request for Evidence) which made denial rates and delays increased. Special work permits to spouses of H-1B visa holders known as H4 visa has been decided to end around November. President Trump is also planning an executive order on ending the “birthright citizenship” in the process, which would definitely decrease the number of immigration population. “Historic restrictionist campaigns – particularly the deportations and the attacks on naturalization and birthright citizenship – may not have succeeded as their advocates had hoped” drew out by Molina from “Crossing Borders: National and Theoretical” by David Goutor actually shows that immigration policy changes that Trump and the Republican has been trying to make is not making the US moving forward (Goutor, 2016).


  1. Goutor, D. (2016). Racism, Class and the Racialized Outsider How Race is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas. Labour/Le Travail, 76. Dana Rohrabacher. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ballotpedia.org/
  2. Dana_Rohrabacher Immigration. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://rohrabacher.house.gov/issues/immigration Numbersusa (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.numbersusa.com/content/my/congress/124/votingrecord#tabset-3 48th
  3. District: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Harley Rouda. (2018, October 25). Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-ca-midterms-key-issues-48-20181020-story.html
  4. Rohrabacher and Rouda face off over immigration, Russia and more in first debate in 48th Congressional District race. (2018, October 16). Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-voc-debate-20181016-story.html
  5. Harley Rouda. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ballotpedia.org/Harley_Rouda Issues. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://harleyforcongress.com/issues/
  6. We’re Proud to Endorse Harley Rouda for Congress. (2018, October 16). Retrieved from https://www.niacaction.org/harley-rouda/ Kevin Kensinger. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ballotpedia.org/Kevin_Kensinger

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U.S. House Race in California on Immigration. (2022, Jan 10). Retrieved from


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