Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly says his own party is ‘not even close’ to understanding border crisis

Top Democrat admits his party does not ‘understand’ the border: Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly says own party was ‘not even close’ to grasping the migrant crisis and admits MORE security is needed

  • Sen. Mark Kelly expressed frustration with fellow Democrats in a new interview
  • He won reelection as senator for Arizona, a border state, this month
  • He was asked if other Democrats understood voter concerns about the border 
  • ‘Absolutely not. Not even close,’ he told the Washington Post
  • This year brought a record number of illegal border crossings
  • Republicans have seized on the issue to accuse Biden of being soft on security 

Mark Kelly, reelected this month as Democratic senator for Arizona, offered a damning indictment of his party’s grasp of border issues in a new interview, saying his colleagues simply did not understand the problem.

Kelly won a bitter midterm battle with Trump-backed Republican Blake Masters, who ran a closer race than many expecting by focusing on voter anger about illegal immigration.

In an interview published Monday, he expressed exasperation when asked if fellow Democrats had a handle on the border question. 

‘Absolutely not. Not even close,’ he told the Washington Post. 

‘When I first 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. Don’t necessarily want to do anything about it, just want to use it politically.’

Sen. Mark Kelly expressed exasperation when asked if fellow Democrats had a handle on the border question. 'Absolutely not. Not even close,' he told the Washington Post

Sen. Mark Kelly expressed exasperation when asked if fellow Democrats had a handle on the border question. ‘Absolutely not. Not even close,’ he told the Washington Post

The past year has brought a surge in migrants illegally crossing the southern border. Here asylum-seeking migrants from Venezuela cross the Rio Bravo river to turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents in El Paso, Texas

The past year has brought a surge in migrants illegally crossing the southern border. Here asylum-seeking migrants from Venezuela cross the Rio Bravo river to turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents in El Paso, Texas

Immigration was one of the key issues in the midterm elections as Kelly's Republican challenger Blake Masters sought to portray Kelly as soft on border security

Immigration was one of the key issues in the midterm elections as Kelly’s Republican challenger Blake Masters sought to portray Kelly as soft on border security

Kelly, a former astronaut, positioned himself to the right of many in his party as he listened to voter concerns in a state that is on the front line of the border problem.

‘So my approach has been — to the extent that we could and can — to make progress on securing it, but also doing it in a way that’s in accordance with our ethics and our values, not to demonize people,’ he continued.

‘And I continue to talk to my Republican colleagues about how we have to do more. 

‘We have to do more in border security. We have to do more in comprehensive immigration reform, especially “dreamers,” but also these visa programs.’

The Biden administration has presided over a surge in crossings.

And Republicans have wasted no time in capitalizing on the issue, accusing Democrats of turning a blind eye or failing to grasp the severity of the problem.

Republican governors have bussed or flown migrants to Democratic-led cities to highlight the crisis faced by border states. 

Masters has put immigration at the heart of his campaign. Earlier this month, official figures showed there were 227,547 encounters along the southwest land border in September, a 12 percent increase compared to August - ending the fiscal year at an all-time high

In total, there were 227,547 encounters along the southwest land border in September, a 12 percent increase compared to August – ending the fiscal year at an all-time high

It means for the Fiscal Year ending September 30th, there was a total of 2,378,944 encounters - the highest level ever recorded by Customs and Border Patrol

It means for the Fiscal Year ending September 30th, there was a total of 2,378,944 encounters – the highest level ever recorded by the department 

The latest numbers show the scale of the problem.

Border crossings reached 2.76 million in the 2022 fiscal year, breaking the previous record, according to Customs and Border Patrol.

Republicans have kept up a steady stream of attacks on President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, accusing them of taking a soft-touch approach.   

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was expected in El Paso on Tuesday to highlight the issue.

He was due to receive a briefing from Border Patrol leadership.

The White House dismissed the visit as nothing more than a stunt. 

‘McCarthy has no plan. The Republican Party has no plan. They do nothing except do political stunts,’ Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. 

‘He goes down there and he does a political stunt, like many Republicans do, that we have seen them do, but he actually is not putting forth a plan.’

'McCarthy has no plan. The Republican Party has no plan. They do nothing except do political stunts,' Jean-Pierre told reporters about the GOP-led trip in a news briefing

‘McCarthy has no plan. The Republican Party has no plan. They do nothing except do political stunts,’ Jean-Pierre told reporters about the GOP-led trip in a news briefing

Jean-Pierre said that Biden had put forth a comprehensive immigration plan on his 'first day' in the White House

Jean-Pierre said that Biden had put forth a comprehensive immigration plan on his ‘first day’ in the White House

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