Libertarian has different take on immigration in Senate race

Posted October 31, 2014 5:35 p.m. EDT

— Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Sean Haugh takes a more open approach to immigration than either of his major-party opponents in next Tuesday's election.

A steady flow of children streaming across the border from Mexico into the U.S. this summer put immigration reform back in the spotlight. With legislation stalled in Congress, President Barack Obama has said he plans to take various steps after the election.

"The strength of America has been based on immigration," Haugh said. "It's the one country in the world where you can come here and become an American and be embraced no matter where you're from."

Both Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House, said the focus of any reform effort must begin with sealing the U.S. border with Mexico.

"Take a look at one of our best allies and friends in Israel. They know how to protect and seal a border," Tillis said. "It can be done. It takes resolve, and it takes an acknowledgment that our national security relies on it."

Hagan said she backs a proposal that would build a 700-mile fence on the border and hire another 20,000 border security agents. Although she backs a path to citizenship for those already in the U.S. illegally, she said she doesn't support amnesty for them.

"Any person in this country would have to learn English, they'd have to pay back taxes, they'd have to pay liens, they'd have to have a criminal background check, and then they would go to the end of the line," she said.

"Once you seal the border, you can then look at the illegally present population here," Tillis said. "That's when you start having a discussion about what to do. But you can only do that after you stabilize the situation."

Haugh, meanwhile, said people in the U.S. illegally should be invited to participate fully in what the nation offers.

"I think we always need to be welcoming of people like that, wherever they come from all over the world," he said.