The Slatest

Kasich Takes Edgy Stance That Undocumented Immigrants Are Not Worthless

John Kasich after the Republican debate in Cleveland on Aug. 6.

Scott Olson/Getty

Ohio governor John Kasich is staking out a position in the Republican 2016 primary field as the guy who, while he’s conservative, is not going to be a jackass about it: He opposes legal same-sex marriage rights but says he happily attended the wedding of a gay friend, and he wants to eliminate undocumented immigration but acknowledges that a path to citizenship for those who are already here might be part of a compromise on the issue. Kasich drew a further distinction between himself and others in the GOP field Thursday in New Hampshire, asserting that undocumented immigrants—who, according to one of his fellow candidates, are often criminals who’ve been dumped on us by a scheming Mexican government—can contribute positively to society. From Fox News:

He quickly dismissed a questioner during an afternoon town hall-style meeting who suggested immigrants in the country illegally are a burden on the system.

“A lot of these people who are here are some of the hardest-working, God-fearing, family-oriented people you can ever meet,” Kasich said to a smattering of polite applause … “It’s not practical to move, or I don’t even think desirable, to try to shift 12 million people out of this country,” Kasich said. “These are people who are contributing significantly.”

Kasich also added that he would like to complete a wall running the length of the U.S.-Mexico border and would deport those who entered illegally after it was finished. Nonetheless, by stating what is frankly obvious common sense to anyone who’s lived in an area with a significant undocumented population, he is clearly positioning himself as one of the more moderate Republican candidates on what has at times been the campaign’s most high-profile issue.