Republicans Fire Up Immigration Talk Heading Into South Carolina


MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The Republican presidential race has erupted in an incendiary new round of attacks over immigration, laying the groundwork in South Carolina for a monthslong fight that is likely to amplify hard-line talk about border security and threats posed by migrants before a national audience.

With Donald J. Trump leading the way, the candidates have offered strident proposals to build a wall on the Mexican border, block Muslims from entering the United States and turn away even 5-year-old refugees from Syria.

Party leaders had hoped some of the most provocative speech would have subsided by now as the race moved past Iowa, a state known for its fiercely hawkish immigration politics, and as more conventional candidates, like former Gov. Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, turned their attention toward the general election.

Instead, the battle lines over immigration have only deepened, as Mr. Trump has maintained his upper hand in the race and the primary campaign has moved into South Carolina and a series of Southern states that vote over the next month.

The theme of what conservatives call “amnesty” has divided two groups of candidates: One, including Mr. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, favors strict immigration policies that would never grant legal status to undocumented immigrants. The other, including Mr. Rubio and Mr. Bush, who are both trailing in the polls, has endorsed a crackdown on illegal immigration without ruling out legal status for people in the country illegally at some distant point in the future.

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