Mark Kelly: Democrats ‘absolutely’ don’t recognize complexity of border challenge

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) said his party “absolutely” does not recognize the complexity of border issues in an interview with The Washington Post.

“Absolutely not. Not even close,” Kelly told Post columnist Karen Tumulty, when asked if Democrats understand the complexity of the border challenge.

“When I got to Washington, it didn’t take me long to realize that there are a lot of Democrats who don’t understand our southern border and a lot of Republicans who just want to talk about it,” he added. . “I don’t necessarily want to do anything about it, I just want to use it politically.”

Republicans consistently attacked Democrats on immigration during the 2022 midterm campaign amid reports of record migrant encounters on the southern border. GOP lawmakers have sought to portray President Biden and his administration as ignorant of the issue.

But the Arizona senator told the Post he was optimistic lawmakers could agree on a bipartisan, comprehensive package of immigration reform.

With Republicans slated to take control of the House in January, any deal on immigration would need support from both sides of the aisle to land on Biden’s desk.

Kelly acknowledged that GOP control over the lower house “presents a small challenge” to the effort, but indicated he believed progress was possible, noting that lawmakers have come closer “a few times.”

Those efforts include a 2007 effort to provide legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants under the George W. Bush administration, which was blocked in the Senate by 15 Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). In 2013, a measure backed by former President Obama and some Senate Republicans died in the House.

This year, frustrations over immigration came to a head after three GOP governors ferried migrants to northern Democratic-run cities in what they said was a protest against Biden administration policies. .

This strategy has drawn criticism from liberals, who have criticized relocations as stunts that unfairly use migrants as political pawns.

“I’m optimistic about this stuff,” Kelly told the Post. “We still have a situation where a lot of Democrats don’t really understand it and a lot of Republicans just want to talk about it and use it for political gain. But I’ll tell you what, I think enough of us understand that and want to accomplish something.

Sharon D. Cole