Arizona Senate candidates spar on border security, illegal immigration
PHOENIX — The security of Arizona’s southern border and the state’s illegal immigration issues were hot topics Thursday night in the debate among U.S. Senate candidates Mark Kelly, Blake Masters and Marc Victor.
The three men are vying for the Arizona Senate seat that is up for election next month.
The candidates, prompted by moderator Ted Simons at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School PBS Studio, clashed on border security and illegal immigration for nearly 10 minutes of the hourlong debate.
“I’ve spent a lot of time at our southern border and let me just say it’s a mess,” Kelly, the Democratic incumbent, said. “It’s chaos. It’s crisis after crisis. I worked in Washington to bring more border patrol agents to the state of Arizona, a billion dollars for staffing and security and monitoring systems … I’ve worked hard to make sure that we have the money so we have more border patrol agents on the ground, and that’s what we have today.”
Masters, the Republican candidate, was not impressed. At one point, he boldly asked Kelly to step down from office as a result of the border crisis. He claimed 5 million migrants have come through Arizona during Kelly’s tenure in the Senate.
“We have a wide open southern border, so if that’s the best you can do, I respectfully request you resign and let’s get someone in the seat who will actually secure our border,” Masters said.
He then went as far as to say that Kelly isn’t even trying to secure the border and that if members of the Mexican drug cartels were allowed to vote in this election they’d pick Kelly.
“I think we should secure the border,” Masters said. “That means a wall. That means doubling the size of our border patrol, and it means let’s get back to deporting people who try to break into our country.”
Kelly said Masters would be unable to secure the border if elected because he doesn’t have the personality to function in a bipartisan environment.
“My opponent doesn’t want to work with anybody,” Kelly said. “He doesn’t even want to work with Republicans. He calls Democrats ‘psychopaths’ and (says) that they’re ‘evil.’ That’s not been the spirit of how Arizona senators work to the benefit of our state and our country.”
In response, Masters said: “You can’t work with Democrats like Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer and Mark Kelly. There’s something very wrong with people who don’t want to enforce federal law, who don’t believe in borders. Apparently, they don’t believe in our national sovereignty because they’ve turned over the entire border zone to Mexican drug cartels and it is killing people. It is killing Arizonans and ruining our state. It’s ruining our country.”
Victor, a Libertarian, said administration after administration has failed to secure the border.
“I’m in favor of a comprehensive overhaul of the entire immigration policy,” Victor said.
He added, “The vast majority of people who come here are great people. They come here to work to pursue the American dream. But, they should get nothing when they come here besides the right to peacefully pursue their happiness … I’m very pro-immigration. It’s good for America.”