Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb is now the fifth Democrat to enter the 2016 presidential campaign. He has been more conservative than most Democrats on the issue of immigration policy while in the Senate, and as a Presidential candidate remains fairly vague about what he would do to reform our immigration system.

When he ran for the Senate in 2006, Webb stated on his campaign website that it was “necessary” to fix our outdated immigration system but focused on an enforcement-first strategy calling for securing the border before working on any other aspects of the outdated system. As a Senator he helped block the 2007 McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill by voting no on a procedural motion that would have brought the bill to a full vote. However, by 2010 he had loosened up some by supporting the DREAM Act when it came up for a vote in the Senate.

Since the end of Webb’s Senate career, the immigration debate has shifted, and seemingly so has Webb’s rhetoric on immigration. Lately he discussed backing a more comprehensive approach to immigration reform however, but remains skeptical and uncommitted to the executive actions President Obama took on immigration last November.

In December, the Washington Post reported his slightly progressing view noting:

“…he also said the nation needs a comprehensive strategy to address illegal immigration…Not simply things like putting up a fence, but really what should our policies be?”

Yet he remained cynical on presidential executive action on immigration. In December 2014, according to the MSNBC:

 “…he told reporters that he believed Obama’s actions were ‘legal,’ Webb would not commit to continuing them if he were president. ‘I would look at them,’ he said. In his remarks, Webb said that in general, he’s ‘not a believer in executive orders” and worries about ‘the abuse of executive orders.”

Webb’s genuine views on immigration are hard to truly detect or decipher as he has said very little on the topic lately and, so far, has failed to address what his policies would be in any campaign materials. At the start of his campaign he stands out as one of the least thoughtful or progressive candidates on immigration policy in the Democratic race for President. This is a position unlikely to get him far in the race for the White House in 2016.

Photo by Rob Shenk.