Ruben Gallego Ad Features Sheriff Who Likened Border Agents to Nazi Secret Police

Santa Cruz County sheriff David Hathaway has repeatedly insulted border agents as 'goons,' argued for 'porous' borders

Rep. Ruben Gallego with Sheriff David Hathaway (Gallego for Arizona/YouTube)
July 1, 2024

Arizona Senate candidate Ruben Gallego’s (D.) latest effort to rebrand himself as a border hawk is a campaign ad that features an Arizona sheriff who supports "porous" borders and has compared federal immigration agents to Nazi secret police.

Gallego’s campaign is spending seven figures on the ad, which features Gallego riding shotgun with Santa Cruz County Sheriff David Hathaway on a patrol mission along the U.S.-Mexico border. "He’s fighting for solutions. Better technology, more manpower; so people like me can do our jobs," says Hathaway.

The ad is part of a push by Gallego to cast off his progressive past, considered a liability in his race against Republican Kari Lake. Gallego, who once called himself a "true progressive voice in Congress," quit the Congressional Progressive Caucus earlier this year and has toned down his criticism of police and federal immigration authorities.

But Hathaway is anything but a border hawk.

Elected sheriff in 2020, Hathaway is well known in libertarian circles as a staunch critic of government enforcement of border security. "Remember that state border enforcers have borne names such as Stasi, Gestapo, KGB, Border Patrol, and Homeland Security," he wrote in his 2015 book, Immigration: Individual Versus National Borders.

Hathaway, who refers to the state as a "false god," argued that proponents of federal involvement in border protection are "endorsing random patrols by a criminal gang that will just as easily kick out the teeth of, plunder, and shoot innocent ‘legal’ residents while it promotes the image of a fake invader crisis."

"The legal residents are a trapped, registered, corralled crowd that unwillingly funds these predators," wrote Hathaway, who also refers to border agents as "goons" three times in his tome.

"Don’t porous borders actually enhance liberty by diminishing the power of the oppressors and their cronies who try to prevent their fenced-in populace from improving their own welfare?" he asked.

Hathaway’s views have not softened in the nine years since the book.

In a 2017 essay for the Libertarian Institute he wrote that "porous national borders are economic safety valves." Hathaway said in a 2021 interview about his book that he was "baffled" by libertarians who argued in support of federal government involvement in border protection.

As sheriff, Hathaway has embraced dovish positions on border enforcement and opposed technologies to monitor illegal border crossings. He gained national attention for opposing Customs and Border Protection's use of aerostat balloons to monitor the border. He called former Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R.) plan to build a border wall "ridiculous" and threatened to arrest any contractors who helped build it. He has disputed there is an "invasion" of the southern border, and opposes a ballot initiative that would allow sheriffs to arrest illegal border crossers.

Earlier this year, Hathaway smeared an Arizona rancher who was charged with murder after he fired warning shots at a group of illegal aliens on his property, killing one man.

Hathaway alleged that the rancher, 75-year-old George Alan Kelly, harbored the mentality that he wanted to "hunt me some Mexicans." An expert witness said Hathaway’s remarks, made in a YouTube video prior to Kelly’s trial, were "completely inappropriate, prejudicial and extremely biased," according to Fox News. The judge in the case declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked 7-1 in favor of acquittal. Prosecutors later dropped the case.

Gallego’s campaign and Hathaway did not respond to requests for comment.

According to NBC News, Gallego’s ad will air in Phoenix and Tucson.