AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Immigration policies sharply divide the top Republican and Democratic candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in Texas. Here are some of their answers to questions posed by The Associated Press:
Do you believe the state should play a role in curbing illegal immigration? If so, what policies would you promote?
—David Dewhurst, incumbent lieutenant governor: "From mid-September to early-October 2013, a surge by the DPS effectively secured the border along the Rio Grande River in the Rio Grande Valley. I am working to make this DPS surge a full-time initiative along Texas' portion of our border with Mexico."
—Sam Houston, Democratic candidate for attorney general: "The United States Supreme Court has confirmed that immigration enforcement is controlled primarily by the federal government. I do not believe that Texas should spend its time or its money on enforcement issues, beyond cooperation with the federal effort."
Do you believe that local law enforcement officers should check the immigration status of people they encounter while investigating crimes other than immigration violations if they suspect the person is in the country illegally?
—Leticia Van de Putte, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor: "Law enforcement officers have consistently called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform so they can focus on human and drug trafficking and cross-border gangs, not on those who are seeking service industry jobs."
— Dan Branch, Republican candidate for attorney general: "I believe the manner in which a person's immigration status is determined should be at the discretion of local law enforcement."
Should Texas issue driver's licenses to people who cannot produce proof that they are in the country legally?
—Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for governor: "I believe that requiring those already in Texas to obtain driver's licenses would ensure they pass a driver's test and meet the requirements to obtain auto insurance."
—Dan Patrick, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor: "Driving on Texas roads is a privilege that should not be available to people who have broken the law to be here."
Should the Department of Public Safety operate pop-up check points to check people's immigration status?
— Ken Paxton, Republican candidate for attorney general: "I would support the use of checkpoints to prevent the unlawful transfer of firearms, drugs, and stolen property and human trafficking at border crossings. If a person is found to be engaging in criminal activity, I would support having their immigration status checked."
—Davis: "Such checkpoints are an unwise use of limited state resources that is better directed toward activities proven to keep the public safe."
Should employers be required to use an eligibility system like e-verify when hiring?
—Barry Smitherman, Republican candidate for attorney general: "Imposing e-verify makes it more difficult to engage in unlawful employment practices (i.e. hiring individuals here illegally) and maintains a more level playing field for everyone."
—Van de Putte: "I believe employers should perform due diligence in verifying that a potential employee has legal status to work in this country. However, I oppose requiring employers to utilize programs such as E-verify due to the flaws in that program."