For Undocumented Migrants, Kasich Supports Pathway to Legal Position

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich on Sunday called for a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants in the U.S., as well as a guest worker program to meet the needs of the labor market.

“The 12 million who are here, we ought to find out who they are,” he said on CNN. “If they’ve been law-abiding over a period of time they ought to be legalized and they ought to be able to stay here. There are people who contribute a lot to the U.S.”

The comments from the Ohio governor, a late entrant into the GOP race who currently polls near the back of the pack, come as the Republican Party has had to contend in recent weeks with front-runner Donald Trump saying that many Mexican immigrants are criminals and his call for the Mexican government to fund a wall along the border.

An internal autopsy conducted by the Republican National Committee after the 2012 election concluded that to win the 2016 presidential election, the party “must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform” to attract Latino voters who have overwhelmingly flocked to the Democrats in recent elections.

On Sunday, Mr. Kasich seemed to disavow his previous support for eliminating “birthright citizenship,” the law granting automatic U.S. citizenship to almost all children born on U.S. soil. “I don’t think we need to go there,” he said.

He also called for the completion of a fence along the southern border, and noted that undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as young children may obtain driver’s licenses in Ohio.

In November, Mr. Kasich appeared open to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“I don’t like the idea of citizenship when people jump the line, [but] we may have to do it,” Mr. Kasich said at the Republican Governors Association meeting inFlorida.

Among other Republicans, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has called for a path to legal status, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a debate last week rejected “amnesty” in favor of securing the border and enforcing existing immigration law.

The move by Mr. Kasich further cements his place in the race as going for the same sort of center-right voters that Mr. Bush is trying to win over.

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