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2024 GOP Senate race: Where the candidates stand on the border

Nevada might not share a border with Mexico, but its geography does not mean immigration and the border crisis won’t play a critical role in what is expected to be a closely watched and contentious Senate race.

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen faces a tough battle for re-election, especially when she will likely share a ballot with a sitting president who’s received much criticism over his border policies.

Illegal border crossings have increased since President Joe Biden took office, and the number of people intercepted by the U.S. Border Patrol is the highest it has ever been. Biden rolled back many Trump-era border policies, including the Title 42 program, which allowed border patrol agents to quickly turn back immigrants without giving a chance for them to ask for asylum.

Polls across the board show disapproval of Biden’s handling of immigration, and Republicans as a whole have been critical of what they say are Biden’s lax border policies. Democrats have criticized Republicans for killing a bipartisan border package that would have made major changes to the country’s immigration system, including sending $20 billion to immigration enforcement and implementing tougher standards for asylum.

A large field of Republican candidates are vying for the GOP nomination to face off against Rosen in November, and many are running with increased border security as a major platform.

Rosen, who has painted herself as a bipartisan senator and received recognition for her ability to work across the aisle, has split from the rest of her party on immigration issues, opposing Biden’s end of the Title 42 program and voting for an amendment that would increase funding for border security.

As part of a questionnaire, GOP Senate candidates described what actions they would take to secure the southern border. They were asked if they support building a wall on the border; and if so, where the money would come from. They were also asked if they would support the bipartisan border package if they were elected, and if they would support the DACA program.

Sam Brown

“It’s time the U.S. Senate finally takes action to stop the waves of illegal immigration and hold Biden accountable for his failure to secure our borders,” said Sam Brown, the frontrunner in the primary.

He said he’ll demand more funding for border security and patrol technologies, stand with law enforcement and fix the broken immigration system to encourage legal immigration. He also said he’ll finish Trump’s border wall, but he did not say how he would fund it. He also did not answer if he supports the DACA program or if he would have supported the bipartisan border package, however he previously said on X the package must be rejected.

“American sovereignty depends on total control of our borders,” he said. “We must take this threat seriously and act swiftly.”

Jim Marchant

Former Assemblyman Jim Marchant said he will enforce the current laws and policies that Trump established. He would also reinstate Title 42 and the Trump era “Remain in Mexico” policy that returned certain asylum seekers to Mexico to wait through the duration of their cases pending in the immigration court system.

Marchant said he supports building a wall on the border and would fund it by “eliminating bloated departments and bureaucracies” within the federal government, and through funding from the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The former candidate for Secretary of State and for Congress did not provide his stance on the bipartisan immigration package, nor on the DACA program.

Tony Grady

“Today, every town is a border town and Nevada is a border state,” said retired Lt. Col. Tony Grady.

Grady said that more Americans have been impacted by the immigration crisis, pointing to a family at his church whose neighbors were murdered by an undocumented immigrant in January 2019.

“We are incentivizing the wrong behavior today. We are a country of immigrants and those who want to come here legally, contribute to our country, embrace American values, making it possible for them to live the American Dream, should be able to,” he said.

If elected, Grady said he would advocate for strong border security that gives border security and local law enforcement the resources they need. He said previous deals haven’t done enough to acknowledge the crisis at the border.

Dr. Jeff Gunter, former Ambassador to Iceland under the Trump administration, did not return a completed questionnaire to the Review-Journal.

Garn Mabey Jr.

Former Assemblyman Garn Mabey Jr. said he would encourage the president to reinstate border policies implemented by Trump, including the Remain in Mexico program until an immigration bill can be passed.

Mabey said he supports the DACA program as well as a new bill that would include a reduction of the number of allowed crossings each day, a swift deportation for those who enter illegally, and funding for more agents.

“I do not support building a wall spanning the entire border,” Mabey said. “Evidence supports that it doesn’t work. Immigrants use ladders, build tunnels, make holes, etc. to get past the wall.”

Bill Conrad

Bill Conrad, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, said he would prioritize securing the southern border through a multifaceted approach, including increased border patrol resources, technology upgrades and cooperation with neighboring countries.

Funding for a border wall would come from both federal appropriations and redirected resources, Conrad said, and he would consider the bipartisan border package based on its effectiveness. He also supports the DACA program on a case-by-case basis.

Stephanie Phillips

Stephanie Phillips, a real estate broker, said she visited the Arizona-Mexico border a month ago and said she has seen the disaster firsthand.

She supports a border wall and said money would come from redirecting funding from “ridiculous pet projects” in spending packages, such as government-produced podcasts. Phillips would also support a mass deportation program and reinstalling the Remain in Mexico policy.

Ronda Kennedy

Attorney Ronda Kennedy said she supports securing the border and tightening security over people who overstay their visas. She would raise money for the border using funds that U.S. gives in foreign aid every year to countries with high numbers of undocumented people in the U.S.

Barry Lindemann

Barry Lindemann, an asset manager, said the U.S. must enforce the laws that are currently available. He would support the passage of the Secure the Border Act of 2023, which imposes limits on asylum eligibility.

He supports building a border wall and said funds would come from redirecting money from nongovernmental organizations. Lindemann also supports the DACA program.

“Since DACA is limited to approximately 580,000 people who arrived prior to 2007, I believe there is a pathway for any of those law-abiding children to obtain citizenship, and the benefits which comes from contributing the United States,” Lindemann said.

Eddie Hamilton

Eddie Hamilton, a longtime political candidate, said he supports the completion of the border wall and said it would cost less than $7 billion, which would come from the federal budget. Hamilton said he would call to end what he called the catch-and-release program, and would support Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy.

Hamilton would also call for a temporary halt to legal immigration.

“America is just ‘sold out’ or full-to-the gill,” he said, adding there are not enough federal immigration employees to process immigrants and there is not enough affordable housing and jobs available for them.

Hamilton also supports ending the DACA program, and would only support the U.S. Senate border package if it included the Secure the Border Act of 2023.

Vincent Rego

Vincent Rego, a driver in Las Vegas, said he’d vote for a total shutdown of the border and would call to deport everyone who crosses the border without “protection” programs.

This story is part of a series ahead of the June 11 primary that examines where the GOP Senate candidates stand on a variety of issues. View the previous stories regarding their positions on abortion and the economy.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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