Dems' Last-Minute Bid To Save Seats Amid Southern Border Turmoil!

By Javier Sanchez | Friday, 19 April 2024 12:00 PM
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Image Credit : Photo by Gabe Vasquez featuring Yadira Caraveo and Eric Sorensen

As the election season heats up, several vulnerable House Democrats, who have previously downplayed the southern border crisis and voted against measures to bolster border security, are now attempting to demonstrate their commitment to the issue as they campaign for re-election.

Three Democrats in hotly contested House races this election cycle — Reps. Yadira Caraveo (D-Colo.), Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.), and Eric Sorenson (D-Ill.) — have introduced bills, resolutions, and amendments over the past year that, while acknowledging the crisis, do little to curb the influx of migrants entering the country illegally.

Representative Caraveo, who serves Colorado's 8th Congressional District, unveiled a legislative package earlier this year addressing some of the immigration challenges facing the nation. The first-term lawmaker introduced two bills — the HELP for Interior Cities ACT and the ANTI-Drugs Act — in February, asserting that both pieces of legislation address "the needs of Colorado communities in the wake of a recent increase in migrant arrivals."

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"This comprehensive plan would deliver funding to interior cities like Denver that are in need of support, reduce the financial burden placed on local governments, and stem the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. It would also deliver much-needed funding to law enforcement both at the border and here in Colorado," Caraveo stated when introducing the measures.

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However, the HELP for Interior Cities ACT does little to stem the tide of migrants entering the country and instead provides additional funding for migrant shelters located in cities not along the border. The ANTI-Drugs Act would make the existing Department of Homeland program "Operation Stonegarden" permanent and provide law enforcement agencies with grants for equipment and personnel, including overtime and backfill, to bolster border law enforcement activities.

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Before introducing these measures, Caraveo was among the 211 Democrats who voted against the Secure the Border Act of 2023. This act, which passed in the House, would have expanded the types of crimes that render someone ineligible for asylum, limited eligibility to those who arrive at ports of entry, mandated a system akin to the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system, and created additional penalties for visa overstays.

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Caraveo was also among the 210 House Democrats who voted against a GOP-led effort in the House to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. During her previous tenure in the Colorado state House of Representatives, Caraveo joined other Democrats nationwide in sending a letter urging the Biden administration to relax immigration rules and "divest from immigration enforcement agencies like ICE and CBP."

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Another Democrat who has recently drawn attention to the issue is Vasquez, who represents New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District. Earlier this month, Vasquez introduced a resolution that "condemns Republican inaction on common-sense solutions to our Nation’s broken immigration system and the challenges our Nation faces at the border."

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Like Caraveo, Vasquez voted against the Secure the Border Act of 2023. However, last October, he introduced a package of immigration bills amid a soaring number of illegal immigrants arriving at the U.S. border. These measures aimed to increase penalties for smugglers and cartels engaging in violent crimes, provide pathways for certain migrants to lawfully work in the U.S., and fund additional personnel at ports of entry.

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Before joining Congress, Vasquez criticized then-President Trump amid immigration woes in 2018, calling the idea of "sending the military to quell a non-existent threat" as "beyond stupid." In a November 2020 post on Twitter, now known as X, Vasquez responded to a social media user who called for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection by writing, "the only ICE we need to be melting."

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Vasquez was also among the many Democrats who applauded President Biden's decision to halt construction of a border wall along the southern border. In a January 2021 post on social media, he said, "As of today, all construction on this racist, environmentally destructive, massive waste of money comes to a grinding halt. This vanity project was little more than a glorification of xenophobia and an insult to border communities. Let's tear it down."

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Like Caraveo and Vasquez, Sorensen, who represents Illinois' 17th Congressional District, voted against the Secure the Border Act of 2023, which would have significantly increased the total number of CBP agents.

Sorensen introduced two amendments to the Secure the Border Act — one that would require the hiring, training, and assigning of "not fewer than 500 additional CBP officers" at points of entry and another that would have appropriated $25 million to "improve coordination" and "expand" a fentanyl task force.

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Both amendments were not considered before a vote on the bill in the House, and Sorensen cited a lack of bipartisan cooperation in voting against the legislation. After introducing the amendments, Sorensen went on to vote "nay" on impeachment efforts against Mayorkas earlier this year.

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Sorensen, like most of his colleagues on his side of the aisle, has expressed opposition to the Trump-proposed idea of a southern border wall. In a November 2019 post promoting an Illinois restaurant, he wrote, "We don’t need border walls, we need more pancakes and burritos!"

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Last July, Sorensen joined 201 other Democrats, including Vasquez and Caraveo, in voting against a measure that would have prevented the use of facilities of certain schools that receive federal financial assistance to provide shelter or housing to illegal immigrants. Additionally, the trio of Democrat lawmakers rejected a measure that aimed to prohibit the federal government from using certain federally administered lands to provide housing for illegal immigrants.

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Caraveo and Vasquez are both seeking re-election to their seats that have been labeled "Democrat Toss Up" by the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election analyst. Sorensen's seat has been labeled as "Lean Democrat."

CBP records show the first six months of fiscal year 2024 had 1,340,801 total encounters, exceeding the first six months of fiscal year 2023, which set a record of 1,226,254 total encounters.

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