Republicans heat up immigration debate as South Carolina looms

The battle for the Republican presidential candidate nomination has intensified further, with the debate over immigration continuing to be top of the agenda. With the South Carolina primary just a month away, the next few weeks are likely to see the hardline stance on immigrants and national security intensifying in front of a nationwide audience.

Donald Trump continues to lead the way as the frontrunner and many of the other candidates are now following his lead in suggesting controversial proposals, such as banning Muslim immigration to the United States, building a wall on the border with Mexico, and turning away Syrian refugees regardless of age. With the race having now moved past Iowa, some Republican leaders had hoped to see the more provocative arguments fade away; instead, the divide over immigration has continued to deepen.

Trump has continued to hold the upper hand over more conventional candidates such as Senator Marco Rubio and former Texas governor Jeb Bush, both of whom are struggling to gain any momentum with voters. The campaign is now moving into South Carolina and the Southern states, which go to the polls over the course of the next month.

The candidates are particularly divided over the issue of ‘amnesty’, with candidates such as Rubio and Bush promising a crackdown on illegal immigration but not ruling out the offer of legal status to undocumented immigrants already in the US. Other candidates are considerably more hardline.