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Dems Struggle Against GOP Attacks on Immigration Policy

Language from Republican candidates in ads and speeches is clear and negative, using the 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico as a stark partisan dividing line. President Biden’s policies, they argue, have led to unchecked borders and allowed immigrants, crime and fentanyl to pour into cities, turning every state into a border state, the New York Times reports. Democratic candidates have a far murkier message, either avoiding the issue or leaning into tough talk that often addresses immigration on Republican terms. In Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan, the party’s nominee for Senate, said a border wall could be “a piece” of the solution. In Arizona, Sen. Mark Kelly has called for more border enforcement officers and “physical barriers where they make sense.” In the final stretch of this year’s midterm elections, the long struggle by Democrats to build a cohesive approach to immigration has become urgent for the party as it confronts a wave of attacks in Republicans’ closing pitch.

The emotional stakes of the issue are higher, too. Democrats were enraged, and Republicans thrilled, when two conservative governors seeking re-election — Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida — paid for efforts to bus and fly migrants to New York, Massachusetts and other Democratic-leaning areas. While the deliberately provocative moves came with risks, including that moderate voters would reject the use of migrants to score political points, they called attention to Democrats’ enduring defensive stance on the border. Adding to the challenge for Democrats, many of the immigrants rights’ groups and progressive organizations that have often done frontline work for the party are under financial strain and battling burnout. Top donors to these groups have sat on the sidelines or turned their attention to efforts focused on threats to democracy.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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