From Social Security to Immigration to the Trump Presidency, Where Do They Stand?
Editor’s note: Thirteen candidates are vying to succeed U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in Congress next January. Earlier this year, Hanabusa decided to leave her seat in the Congress and challenge incumbent Gov. David Ige in the Democratic primary for governor. Of the 13 candidates who filed for the District 1 race, seven are Democrats, two are Republicans, two are Libertarians, two are running as nonpartisan candidates and one is a Green Party member. The top vote getter in each party will square off in the Nov. 6 general election.
The Hawai‘i Herald compiled a questionnaire to find out where the candidates stand on the issues. We hope their responses help you in making up your mind when you vote in the primary election.
We start the questionnaire with a brief profile of the eight candidates who responded, in alphabetical order.
Current occupation: Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Outrigger Hotels Hawaii
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous political experience: United States Congressman (2002-2007); Hawai‘i State Representative (1994-2002; Majority Leader); Mänoa Neighborhood Board (1985-1989; Chair); Legislative Assistant, U.S. Representative/Senator Spark Matsunaga (1975-1978).
Current occupation: Lieutenant Governor of Hawai‘i
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous political experience: Hawai‘i Attorney General; Managing Director, City & County of Honolulu; Acting City Prosecutor and First Deputy, City Prosecutor of the City & County of Honolulu.
Current occupation: Hawai‘i State Representative
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous political experience:
KANIELA SAITO ING
Current occupation: Hawai‘i State Representative
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous political experience: Three-term State Representative, Majority Policy Leader; Neighborhood Board member; President, Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i.
DONNA MERCADO KIM
Current occupation: Hawai‘i State Senator
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous political experience: 35 years of public service: has served in every level of state and county government — Honolulu City Council, Hawai‘i State House of Representatives and currently in the Hawai‘i State Senate.
ERNEST “ERNIE” YORIHIKO MARTIN
Current occupation: Chairman and Presiding Officer, Honolulu City Council; attorney-at-law
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous political experience: Member, Honolulu City Council
Current occupation: Retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous political experience: Neighborhood Board and active candidate.
RAYMOND RENE VINOLE
Current occupation: Founder, Eagle National Committee
Party affiliation: Republican
Previous political experience: N/A
IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE, WHAT ARE THE FIVE MOST PRESSING ISSUES FACING OUR COUNTRY TODAY — AND WHAT OUT-OF-THE-BOX IDEAS DO YOU HAVE FOR SOLVING THEM?
ED CASE: 1) Failure of our federal government to lead in solving our nation’s problems due to political division, dysfunction, special interest influence and other factors. It is unfortunate that the “out-of-the-box” solution is what any of us must do to reach agreement and move forward in our personal and work lives: stop yelling and fighting and start talking and working.
2) The rapidly worsening condition of our federal finances and budget due to the growing imbalance between revenues and expenses, resulting in exploding federal debt. No personal or business checkbook could be run this way, and to make matters worse, we are borrowing the money to cover the deficit from our future and from other countries like China. One solution is “pay-go,” meaning that any spending increase or revenue reduction must be matched by an adjustment elsewhere so that the result is budget-neutral.
3) The long-term stability of our economy and its ability to continue to generate good jobs for all Americans. Although it is doing fairly well now, the worst mistake is to take it for granted and assume it will just continue along. History teaches us that we must always keep taxes and regulations at reasonable levels so that businesses, including Hawai‘i’s mostly small businesses, can survive and prosper.
4) The long-term stability of our social safety net programs, especially Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but also many more that assist citizens in need such as low-income seniors and others. The solutions are very basic: assure adequate funding; assure efficient operation and delivery; curb waste, fraud and abuse; and ensure that the programs work in the great diversity of Hawai‘i far from and not understood by [Washington,] D.C.
5) Our country’s relationship with the rest of the world. We have borne the responsibility of world leadership for generations now and have made our world better for it. We have also benefited back home from being part of the larger world through trade and other interaction with other countries. Hawai‘i tourism is just one clear example. Yet, today among some, there is a move to withdraw from the rest of the world, which is a very dangerous trend. Our best hope over the next generations is to continue to engage with other countries toward world peace, stability and interaction.
DOUG CHIN: I know how hard it is for Hawai‘i families to make ends meet, pay the bills and put food on the table. That’s why I will never stop working to make sure Hawai‘i families have a chance of success and that we face our challenges head-on.
You can count on me to fight for more affordable housing for Hawai‘i families; to protect Hawai‘i’s natural beauty and address climate change; invest in our green energy future; to give every child a quality education and protect them from the gun violence epidemic sweeping our nation; and to work with our congressional delegation to ensure Hawai‘i continues to receive the federal funds we need to thrive.
BETH FUKUMOTO: Housing is the single greatest need in Hawai‘i and in the United States. We should invest in federal grant programs that are specifically targeted to municipalities who are innovating responsible and climate-resilient solutions to housing shortages.
We should be using our federal funding for affordable units that encourage green living and help achieve a federal 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2050. While many municipalities can achieve renewable energy before 2035, it may take extra time to move the entire U.S. to the same standard. I’m committed to setting and meeting those goals with investments in grid modernization, renewable technologies and a “first hurt, first helped” policy that would eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and invest those savings in communities previously reliant on and hurt by the fossil fuel economy.
In addition to housing and energy, healthcare, cybersecurity and the cost of higher education are the most pressing issues. I support a single-payer system or Medicare for All plan that leverages the bargaining power of the American people to lower prices of prescription drugs and other skyrocketing costs. I support student debt cancellation.
Finally, I think cybersecurity goes unmentioned too often. Nearly every aspect of our daily lives is reliant on technologies vulnerable to state-sponsored cyber attacks. Congress needs to get up to speed on digital threats and start focusing defense funding more heavily on cyber defense
KANIELA ING: 1) We must get big money out of politics. Every pressing issue facing our country today comes down to one thing: money in politics. We need to repeal Citizens United, stop the flow of seedy corporate money into politicians’ hands and reclaim our democracy from corporate interests. I am the only candidate to lead by example and refuse all corporate money.
2) We need housing-for-all. Congress should invest heavily in at-cost construction of social housing in high-need areas like Hawai‘i while providing federal loans with 0 percent down payments everywhere. A tenants’ bill of rights would protect renters from unjust evictions, promote diverse communities and ensure rental housing is truly affordable. Taxes on vacant units worth over $2 million would curtail nonresident speculation.
3) In today’s economy, universal access to quality education must start at Pre-K and continue through college. I championed free community college in the Legislature and will champion tuition-free college in Congress. We must also provide relief to the millions of Americans buried in student loan debt.
4) Restoring the Affordable Care Act is not enough: America needs to join the rest of the developed world and provide healthcare for all. As a nation, we pay far more than any other country to provide inadequate healthcare to only some of our people. We need Medicare for all.
5) A Green New Deal. Waikïkï could be underwater in my son’s lifetime. Climate change is a global problem that requires strong American leadership to address. I supported 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 in the Hawai‘i state Legislature and will continue to make it a national goal by 2035 by investing $1 trillion in sustainable infrastructure to reboot our economy and aggressively combat climate change.
DONNA MERCADO KIM: 1) Lack of responsible leadership in our Oval Office, resulting in a decaying image worldwide, loss of important allies, chaos in the executive branch with shocking dismissals and resignations and a disregard for the truth.
This is obviously a very complex and deeply troubling situation that will require great cohesion on the part of the legislative branch. Thus, my experience in bringing people together and working collaboratively will be a key factor in forging alliances in the U.S. Congress. Only by reaching out and working with all members of Congress will we be able to achieve common sense reform and solutions. I will fight to uphold and restore the principles upon which our country was founded and work tirelessly with others in the House to protect the values that we hold dear such as respect for the security of our seniors, protection of our environment and the wise use of diplomacy.
2) The reversals on the Affordable Care Act and the attack on senior citizens’ right to Social Security and Medicare. Health care is a human right. I am committed to protecting health care and senior citizen programs that are vital to the fabric of our society. Hawai‘i led the nation in providing quality and affordable health care with our Prepaid Health Care Act and I will always work to ensure our kupuna have access to the health care they need. The original premise of the Affordable Care Act was to make health care affordable and accessible to all. By working together with all constituencies, I will advocate for making adjustments to better manage the program’s costs and effectiveness. We need to revalidate the fundamental assumptions to ensure we are meeting the original objectives of the ACA while at the same time recognizing that health care for all is a human right, not a privilege. I will do everything in my power to preserve and expand Medicare and fight to ensure continued and expanded Social Security for our senior citizens.
3) The attack on our pristine and precious natural wild places. Politics has no place in scientific knowledge and achievement, particularly when that knowledge can preserve and protect our planet for future generations. Ignoring the advice of scientists throughout the world regarding the dire impacts of climate change is an irresponsible and reprehensible position. I will not compromise on protecting Hawai‘i’s or our nation’s land, air and water. Recently, our environmental laws have been significantly weakened because of Trump’s de-emphasis of federal environmental laws and his rejection of the science on global warming. This is despite the recent and more frequent catastrophic natural disasters affecting our country and the world. I will strive toward re-establishing our nation’s environmental protection laws and stop the current direction of the EPA and administration. I oppose the erosion of our precious national wild places. I will reach out and work with environmental groups towards this effort.
4) The disregard for the importance of public education. Public education is a critical equalizer. I am a public school graduate and if not for public education, I wouldn’t be who I am today. This is why I have always fought for greater opportunities for public education.
It is imperative that our youth have access to high quality, affordable higher education. The skyrocketing cost of college has burdened graduates with huge loan debt. I will fight for low to zero interest rates on student debt and make it easier for graduates to pay off their loans. I will push for incentives such as granting federal funds to states that lower tuition costs for quality education.
An educated citizenry is the most important national product we have. We must address the deteriorating quality of our schools, properly compensate teachers and insist on a great education for all. To this end, I will work to increase graduate student stipends, maintain open access to community colleges, lower interest rates on federal student loans, and improve salaries for teachers and funding for school infrastructure.
5) The erosion of the middle class as working families struggle to make ends meet. As I grew up, both my parents worked to make ends meet. We lived paycheck-to-paycheck. Today, middle class families continue to struggle. Government has to do a better job of attracting high-paying industries through tax incentives and less government regulation. It is becoming harder and harder for small businesses to sustain themselves. High-paying jobs are going to more business-friendly states or to foreign counties. Additionally, workplace policies have not kept up with the needs of our changing workforce, and the federal minimum wage lags far behind the states’ minimum wage.
Affordable housing is a huge component as middle class families strive for home ownership. All levels of government — federal, state and county officials — must work together, and I will lead this effort to stop the erosion of the middle class. Our great middle class is what distinguished our nation and made it great. We cannot become a county of “haves” and “have-nots.”
ERNIE MARTIN: The biggest issues facing our community are access to affordable housing and homelessness. We need to increase the federal minimum wage to resemble a living wage. Federal resources, such as HOME funds, Community Development Block Grant funding, low-income housing tax credits, and others must be effectively managed in coordination with the county and state. There must be a comprehensive plan to address homelessness and affordable housing, one with measurable benchmarks and community buy-in. Too often, once the federal resources are awarded, we lose track of the implementation. I would require regular progress reports as part of a coordinated effort with the county and state.
Infrastructure and transportation improvements go hand-in-hand with increasing access to affordable housing. Transit-oriented development represents our greatest opportunity to create truly affordable housing that our workforce can afford. We must work together to ensure the successful completion of the entire rail line, from East Kapolei to Ala Moana, and be sure that we efficiently plan the communities and development around each station to meet the immediate housing needs of the community.
In addition to ensuring that our veterans are not neglected or shorted with respect to the benefits that they have earned, I believe it is imperative that we also increase congressional oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure timely delivery of services to veterans through a more streamlined and efficient operation. I would work directly with veterans’ advocacy groups to identify barriers and sponsor legislation to remove them.
SAM PULETASI: Immigration; Economic development; Military; Homeless; High cost of living; Poverty.
RAYMOND VINOLE: Economic growth; Job creation; Border security; Peace through strength abroad; Overturn abortion and assisted suicide; Overturn gay marriage.
CONGRESS AND THE NATION ARE MORE POLARIZED THAN EVER BEFORE. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
ED CASE: I would follow the same model I practiced during my prior service on Capitol Hill, a model taught to me by U.S. Representative/Senator Spark Matsunaga as a young legislative assistant in his office and then again by my delegation colleagues, Senators [Daniel] Inouye and [Daniel] Akaka and Congressman [Neil] Abercrombie, all of whom served over time in Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses — that there is a place for partisan differences, including strong advocacy, a place for finding common ground and forging consensus solutions, and a place for both helping the administration and colleagues and being helped by the administration and colleagues on issues of importance to one’s home state. Their lesson and my experience was that one could achieve all three as long as one pursued all three evenly and fairly.
DOUG CHIN: My colleagues from 15 Democratic and Republican states elected me chair of the Conference of Western Attorneys General. In this role, I brought these diverse leaders together to find common ground and solutions to pressing policy challenges, like giving legal cannabis businesses access to banks and addressing the opioid crisis. You can count on me to bring the same spirit of aloha and cooperation to my work for Hawai‘i in Congress, where success often depends on building relationships on both sides of the aisle and convincing others to follow your lead.
I have proven on a national stage that I can fight hard for Hawai‘i’s values with aloha. Ask anyone you know in the local community — the city, the state — and the national network of Attorneys General and they will tell you I treat all persons at all times, even those who oppose me, with kindness and respect, no matter how difficult the topic.
BETH FUKUMOTO: First and foremost, Hawai‘i’s next member of Congress shouldn’t be adding to the polarization. As a legislator, I’ve seen how members who seek support from special interests will elevate their language to get media attention or grow their social media following. Finding common ground is hard work and I’ve shown the ability to do that work, build relationships, and get things done for my district and our state, regardless of disagreements.
We have to look past the present situation and ensure our next member of Congress is someone who can work over time and through different administrations and leaders. I will fight against the injustices of the Trump administration with my colleagues. But, this election can’t only be about fighting President Trump. We need to focus on Hawai‘i’s future and the stability of our congressional delegation so we can start to rebuild the influence and seniority that we once had.
I can make a difference by understanding that my role in Congress is to represent Hawai‘i and make sure our unique values and perspectives are understood by other members of Congress. Building relationships is critical to ending our country’s polarization and that starts with treating everyone with respect and kindness even when you disagree completely.
KANIELA ING: Despite being a lifelong Democrat and the only consistent progressive in this race, I’ve been able to find common ground, compromise without sacrificing my principles and not let perfect be the enemy of good. I’m a fierce proponent of making the minimum wage a living wage and support the Fight for 15, yet I was still willing to accept $10.10 to salvage the bill and give relief to the backbone of our workforce.
If elected to Congress, I would have the same approach in working with other legislators, regardless of ideology or partisan divide. No matter our differences, most of us want similar things. We want to create a better life for the people we love. Even in today’s polarized political climate, we’ve seen bipartisan support for keeping immigrant families together, common-sense gun control and protecting health care. Progress can be made if we stick to the issue and fight for aloha.
DONNA KIM: I am an advocate of civil discourse and have participated in civil discourse training. Civility is lacking in Congress, and face-to-face communication, instead of communicating through the media, is needed. I do believe that it is the women in Congress who are making the difference by offering a moderate, thoughtful, humble and considered point of view. It will be my mission to reach out to each member of Congress, to work collaboratively and with civility and to look for common values to bring us together. Obviously, I will also stand up fearlessly to those who threaten the rights I believe in, as I have always done throughout my career. But I will also bring to the table my sensibilities and caring as a working mother who hopes for a world free of violence in a clean, sustainable environment.
ERNIE MARTIN: My priorities aren’t dependent on which party controls the House. I will fight for what is best for Hawai‘i. I will work with allies on both sides of the aisle to ensure Hawai‘i gets its fair share. Given that, my first priority when elected is to develop a cohesive working relationship with Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation to ensure that we work together in advancing an agenda that focuses on Hawai‘i’s priorities first and foremost. I would also seek to develop relationships with other Congressional representatives in both the House and Senate who may have similar ideologies and state/federal interests. Standing alone and advancing one’s personal agenda will not result in tangible benefits for Hawai‘i. In terms of specific legislative priorities, I’ll work to increase oversight of veterans’ affairs, so Hawai‘i’s veterans can receive timely access to the housing assistance, health care and employment training they deserve. I will also address homelessness and the need for affordable housing by finding solutions to the affordable housing and homelessness crisis affecting Hawai‘i by ensuring that federal funding for these programs is protected and spent effectively. And, I’ll make sure that Hawai‘i is getting its fair share of infrastructure and transportation investments by advocating for additional federal investments and funding flexibility to get important local projects like the rail transit project done without additional burden on local taxpayers.
SAM PULETASI: The solution is simple, but not easy. We need to acknowledge the very fact that the differences between the two parties aren’t the thing that causes polarization. What causes polarization are the people who feel their political views are intrinsically superior and those who believe there is no common bond between the two parties.
RAYMOND VINOLE: I started the Eagle National Committee, www.usaenc.org. “It takes a right wing and a left wing to fly the eagle.”
WHAT SHOULD CONGRESS DO ABOUT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ALSO REFERRED TO AS “OBAMACARE” OR THE “ACA”)?
ED CASE: The Affordable Care Act was a critical advance in expanding health care availability to tens of millions of Americans who could not otherwise obtain it and in addressing discrimination by health care insurers based on health conditions. While further changes may be required to work out issues in implementation, the basics of the law should be retained.
DOUG CHIN: As Hawai‘i’s attorney general, I fought to protect the Affordable Care Act and the principle that every American should have access to quality, affordable health care. And I support the merits of a universal health care system.
Instead of undermining and dismantling the Affordable Care Act, Republicans should join with the Democratic Party to make the necessary improvements, such as repealing the so-called Cadillac Tax, to ensure families in every state have access to affordable health insurance and quality health care. I will fight back against any attempts to take away key consumer protections under Obamacare, like putting an end to discrimination by insurance companies based on pre-existing conditions or gender.
BETH FUKUMOTO: We should keep the Affordable Care Act in place, but work toward a single-payer system that would simplify our system. Patients should be the center of our health care system, but now, too many people and their doctors are left unsure of their insurance coverage. A single-payer system would leverage the collective bargaining power of the American people to lower the cost of care and medicine.
KANIELA ING: Health care is a human right and it’s shameful that the richest nation in the history of the world cannot recognize that right when every other developed nation has. The ACA wasn’t perfect; it was an interim step towards a single-payer system. Congress shouldn’t waste energy fighting to regain the pre-Trump status quo.
People were hurting before the last election and our system has been in need of reform. Trump’s attempts to gut the ACA will be felt by the most vulnerable among us, but we can’t just fight to get back to the status quo. We need bold, progressive action for a brighter future for all. We need Medicare for all and I am committed to fighting to provide everyone in America with health care in Congress.
DONNA MERCADO KIM: Please see my previous answer in Question Number One.
ERNIE MARTIN: See response below.
SAM PULETASI: Offer unlimited policy maximum and include pre-existing conditions.
RAYMOND VINOLE: Continue to enhance all the wonderful features of it since it is the master blueprint of American healthcare presented by President Obama.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE AND MEDICAID?
ED CASE: These are among the most important programs ever adopted in our country’s history and must be maintained and strengthened to serve future generations, as they have well served four generations of Americans now. But they are on a fiscally unsustainable path now on which, left unaddressed, expenses will outpace revenues in the next few decades. If we act now, we can place them back on a fiscally sound path for future Americans. For Social Security, one clear action would be to “lockbox” payments into Social Security by working Americans, which are now spent for other federal needs rather than reserved for when needed in Social Security. For Medicare, the critical need is to control escalating health care costs driven largely by insider lobbying by special interest health care deliverers like the drug companies.
DOUG CHIN: I believe all kupuna deserve to enjoy retirement with dignity and security. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I will always vote to safeguard the lifesaving benefits of Medicare, and I will support increasing Social Security’s guaranteed benefits. Likewise, I will support strengthening America’s promise of accessible health care for low-income and working families by expanding and increasing funding for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Congress should seize opportunities to strengthen these critical safety net programs by taking steps like empowering the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.
BETH FUKUMOTO: We need to keep our promises and protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the people that rely on them. We should make sure Social Security payments are high enough to cover basic needs and stabilize the fund by making sure the highest income earners in the country are no longer exempted from paying their share.
KANIELA ING: We must protect and expand Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
As mentioned above, we need Medicare for all. Period. Universal healthcare will address the shortcomings of both Medicare and Medicaid. Piecemeal solutions and fighting to regain the pre-Trump status quo is not enough.
Social Security needs to be able to fulfill its mandate of providing basic income for America’s seniors. People are living longer than they did before and the “Silver Tsunami” is beginning as baby boomers have become eligible for Social Security. Cost of living also continues to rise, so seniors will need more benefits to survive.
With more money going out to beneficiaries, we need to ensure that sufficient money is going into the Social Security Trust. We must eliminate the $128,700 cap for taxable income that goes into Social Security. Everyone needs to pay their fair share.
DONNA MERCADO KIM: These are promises to our seniors that they have worked their entire lives to earn. They must be protected. Our growing population of seniors must not be left to fend for their livelihood and health care with insufficient resources. I have a 35-year record of delivering to my constituents and I commit to do everything in my power to preserve and expand Medicare and to fight for continued and expanded Social Security for our senior citizens.
ERNIE MARTIN: Medicare and Medicaid relate to our need for universal health care. They are two of the four programs — the Affordable Care Act and the Veterans Administration are the other two — serving our health care needs. We should take what works from each system and fill in the gaps with a new, creative policy that lowers the cost for everyone. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel; we just need to fix what’s broken.
As for Social Security, we need to be sure that it provides a decent standard of living for our elderly: real cost of living allowances based on real circumstances. Taking care of our elders requires more than increased Social Security payments. It requires affordable housing initiatives, transportation options and cost-controlled health care options.
SAM PULETASI: Increase Social Security and expand Medicare and Medicaid to everyone.
RAYMOND VINOLE: Find ways to lower cost and improve efficiency while providing the best AMERICA has to offer for its citizens.
WHAT WOULD YOUR COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL INCLUDE?
ED CASE: As various recent heartbreaking real-life consequences both nationally and here at home attest, our immigration policy, while sound in principle, is broken in practice. Our last real reform is now 30 years old and the inability of national leadership to deliver for the last decade-plus on critically needed further reform is its own tragedy. That reform should encompass at least the following: increased and accelerated legal immigration; increased deterrence of illegal immigration to include border security; humane detention and due process for immigrants and families claimed to enter illegally; increased and accelerated asylum processing; and reinstitution of DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. As to current illegal immigrants, neither universal amnesty nor universal deportation will work; different rules should apply to different categories, ranging from possible earned residence/naturalization for some to return for others.
DOUG CHIN: As Hawai‘i attorney general, I was the first in the nation to challenge Donald Trump’s revised Muslim ban in federal courts from Honolulu to the U.S. Supreme Court. And I fought against discrimination by working to protect DACA grantees, or Dreamers, who came to this country as children. Last July, I got the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Trump’s plan to separate families, and I will continue to call on the Trump administration to reunite and keep migrant families together.
I believe Hawai‘i’s rich diversity makes us stronger — and it’s worth fighting for. That’s why you can count on me to push for legislation to overhaul our failed and outdated immigration system to recognize the critical contributions and harness the talents of America’s immigrants. I will support passing the DREAM Act to protect DACA grantees, and I believe any comprehensive overhaul must include strengthened family reunification policies as well as a pathway to citizenship for the millions of aspiring Americans who will help us grow America’s economy and enrich our diverse culture.
BETH FUKUMOTO: First, everyone that comes into our country should be treated fairly and humanely. That means they’re not separated from their children; families are reunited and processing takes place quickly. We need to limit executive power to change standards and ensure there is notification of changes to refugee or asylum rules at least six months in advance. Congress needs to reassert its authority as an equal branch of government and work toward a solution that gives DREAMERS a path to citizenship, sets clear guidelines, removes race as a factor and recognizes the importance of immigration to our national economy.
KANIELA ING: I have long been a champion of immigrant rights and human rights. In the state Legislature, I championed investigations into allegations of human trafficking in the longline fishing industry, fought to pass driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and introduced the nation’s first sanctuary state bill.
On the national level, we need to abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). It’s important to remember that ICE was only created in 2003. ICE was a George W. Bush scapegoating tactic to pit us against “others” and help justify the Iraq War. We didn’t need ICE then and we don’t need it now. ICE is what our immigration policy looks like when it’s rooted in fear and scarcity. It has become the American gestapo. Every day, we continue business as usual and allow ICE to take our neighbors away in the middle of the night; it’s our moral failure that inches us towards authoritarianism.
Like so much of our immigration policy, DACA was a temporary compromise and not a policy solution. We need the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship for these young people who only know life in America. They are American and we need to stop spending our resources on racist, xenophobic, ineffective enforcements.
DONNA KIM: America was founded on the principles of freedom and protecting those fleeing from oppression. Our immigration policy was established to reflect these principles as well as to protect our citizens and keep them safe from those who wish to challenge their freedom and liberty. Our policies are only as good as their enforcement. As a country in which the “rule of law” governs, those that follow our laws must be given priority over those who do not. This applies to our laws on immigration.
But our immigration policy seems to be broken and failing everyone. We must work towards common sense reform and not use immigration as a political football.
As a mother, I support exceptions to our policy, such as DACA, that address the children of illegal immigrants and keeping children with their families. Therefore, we must create a “pathway to citizenship” for those who have entered the U.S. illegally under extenuating circumstances (e.g., war, rebellion, severe storms, etc.) and now face uncertainty because of their status. We must provide them with a predictable pathway of security background checks and appropriate penalties.
As children, we are taught in school not to cheat, and if you get caught, there are consequences. People just want a fair playing field. I support legal sanctions that match the level of the offense.
ERNIE MARTIN: As the son of a Japanese immigrant — my mom Teruko came to America from Tökyö — this is a personal issue for me. However, I’m not sure how we arrive at the bipartisan compromise we need on immigration, given the climate and balance of power in Washington. The administration is comfortable separating families and arresting every immigrant seeking asylum along our southern border. As a father of three, it is shameful to watch how this administration is using trauma and children to create leverage for their anti-immigration agenda. It’s un-American. President Donald Trump and his Republican Party are willing to ignore the rule of law. Until the courts or his party reels him in, it’s going to be difficult to deal on immigration. DACA should be reinstated and honored because children who came to this country through no fault of their own deserve a chance to give back to the community that raised them. We too often forget that we are a nation of immigrants and native people. I am committed to working, across the aisle, to bring common sense and humanity back to our immigration policies.
We also need to take a real look at who we are deporting. While sending criminals home may make sense, deporting people who have lived here for decades and contributed to America’s growth and prosperity should have a path to citizenship.
SAM PULETASI: Consider amnesty, restore DACA and Dream Act.
RAYMOND VINOLE: Overturn abortion first and if there is any room left for immigration, than those limited spots should be allocated to countries favorable to the laws and customs of the United States of America.
I BELIEVE DONALD TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY HAS ____ HAS NOT ____ BEEN GOOD FOR AMERICA. PLEASE EXPLAIN.
ED CASE: On balance and thus far, the Trump presidency has not been good for our country, for these main reasons: 1) it has further divided rather than united our country; 2) it has strained our relationships with our allies and other countries of the world; 3) it has undermined respect for the law and our institutions of government, including the Office of the President; and 4) it has not embraced the core values of equality, opportunity, compassion and tolerance. That said, my responsibility as a member of Congress and my obligation under our Constitution as part of a separate, independent and co-equal branch of government include both working with the Trump administration on our country’s and Hawai‘i’s behalf whenever possible while also serving as a check and balance on the Trump administration when in my judgment it is acting incorrectly.
DOUG CHIN: Has not been good. Few in the country have done more to take on the Trump administration’s hateful and hurtful policies. I stepped up to stop Trump’s divisive Muslim ban and many more of the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back the progress we made under President Obama.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. He recently kept his promise by selecting a right-wing activist judge to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. If the U.S. Supreme Court will not — or cannot — stop Trump’s hateful, harmful agenda, that leaves Congress as the only check.
I’m running for Congress because I believe, in times like these, Hawai‘i needs a representative in Congress with a proven track record of standing up to bullies like Donald Trump. Now, more than ever, Hawai‘i needs an attorney general representing them in Washington, D.C.
BETH FUKUMOTO: Has not been good. Trump’s candidacy called into question all the conventions of political campaigns. It gave the impression that it was appropriate to be unkind and disrespectful. The same is true of his presidency. He consistently breaks the rules of acceptable behavior among world leaders and his behavior isn’t projecting the values that Americans have treasured since our founding.
KANIELA ING: Has not been good. Donald Trump represented an answer, albeit a wrong and catastrophically consequential answer, to the disconnect between elected officials and the public. My opponents are running to resist Trump, but things were not going well for most of us before the 2016 election. I was still spending 60 percent of my income on student loans and renting a one-bedroom apartment built in the 1970s, before Trump was sworn in.
Trump has brought the racism, sexism and xenophobia and has threatened our democracy. In the short run, he must be impeached. In the long run, we must offer an alternative, bold positive vision to win back our nation. People are desperate and wanted big and bold. Democrats failed to offer that, so they went with big, bold and wrong. That’s why I’m championing new progressive ideas that will lift working families in Hawai‘i and across America.
DONNA MERCADO KIM: I believe that the President’s use of Twitter has not been good for America. This presidency has created more turmoil, ill will and chaos than ever before in modern times. He has rolled back important advances in health care, the environment, education and stabilization of the middle class, not to mention the impact it has had on the international scene where close allies have been maligned and dangerous trade policies set in place that are actually harming American businesses. However, as long as he is the president, we must work with him if we can identify areas that are good for Hawai‘i and for our country.
I will say that his style of governing has certainly resulted in getting more citizens engaged in watching and paying attention to what is happening in Washington, D.C., and globally and I hope this results in increased voter participation.
ERNIE MARTIN: Over the years, I’ve worked with all kinds of people to deliver for my constituents. I don’t agree with many of the president’s statements, policies, ideologies and how he conducts himself as a man. That’s not how I was born and raised and that’s not the kid, husband and father that I am. I am confident that we can stand by our culture and our ideals and still secure the federal resources we need. The federal government is mostly made up of dedicated Americans who care about their communities. One jackass at the top can’t change that.
SAM PULETASI: Conflict
RAYMOND VINOLE: Has been good. Number one reason, he is against abortion and his great wealth provides added strength and security for me knowing that he can’t be bribed