Photo of Nikki Haley

Haley Campaign Press Release - Fact Check: Haley Never Supported Unlimited Immigration

December 06, 2023

After watching his poll numbers plummet and his super PAC go up in flames, Ron DeSantis is desperately throwing lies at the wall, hoping something will stick. Spoiler alert: It won't.

The truth is Haley got tough on illegal immigration 10 years before Ron DeSantis did anything. As governor, she signed one of the most aggressive anti-illegal immigration laws in the country and took on the Obama administration when it threw a fit. Under Haley, South Carolina was one of the first states in the country to require E-Verify for all employers. Ron DeSantis only followed in Haley's footsteps as he was announcing his presidential campaign.

Haley never said she supports unlimited legal immigration.

  • On legal immigration, Haley has called for moving away from a quota system and move toward a fairer, merit-based system: "Our legal immigration system is broken and we need to be smart about how we reform it. Relying on quotas like we are doing now is not the right approach. We need to bring in immigrants based on merit and based on those who will lift our economy up—not based on some arbitrary number. And of course, we should only allow people to come who follow our laws. The second we stop being a country of laws, we give up everything this country was founded on. If illegal immigrants are not following our laws to get here, there's no reason to believe they'll follow our laws when they're in our country."

As South Carolina governor, Haley signed one of the toughest immigration laws in the country, making good on her pledge as a gubernatorial candidate.

  • On June 26, 2011, Gov. Nikki Haley signed the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act, requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest for another reason and suspect may be in the country illegally. The bill required South Carolina employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check the citizenship status of employees.
  • The Post and Courier called these measures "some of the nation's toughest measures to curb illegal immigrants living and working here."

Haley went head-to-head with the Obama administration on illegal immigration.

  • Haley fought Obama's DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to enforce South Carolina's E-Verify law. Haley took the fight public, calling out the Obama administration until it backed down.
  • South Carolina filed a suit challenging Obama's constitutional authority after he issued an executive order giving temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.
  • Haley fought the Obama administration on accepting Syrian refugees, undocumented minors, and Guantanamo Bay prisoners in South Carolina.


DeSantis lied repeatedly about Haley's record on refugees.

  • PolitiFact: No, Nikki Haley didn't say she wants the U.S. to take in Gaza refugees, as DeSantis PAC claims
  • CNN: Fact check: DeSantis campaign falsely describes Haley's comments on the people of Gaza
  • Semafor: Wild subplot in the 2024 primary this week: Haley said that not all Palestinians were Hamas or anti-Semites, and DeSantis claimed this meant she wanted to take in waves of Gaza refugees. (She doesn't, he made it up.)
  • CheckYourFact: Fact Check: Did Nikki Haley say the U.S. should take in Gaza refugees? Verdict: False
  • Newsmax: Most recently, the PAC, in an advertisement, selectively edited footage of Haley addressing the United Nations in 2017 as the American ambassador to make it seem like she once endorsed allowing in Syrian refugees... But CheckYourFact pointed out that the clip's context was not Haley backing refugee resettlement of Palestinians. Instead, she was criticizing DeSantis' remarks about all 'people from Gaza' being antisemitic.

Nikki Haley, Haley Campaign Press Release - Fact Check: Haley Never Supported Unlimited Immigration Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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