Four Democratic candidates running in crucial congressional races across the country were part of a coalition of lawmakers that in September 2021 urged President Joe Biden to take the radical steps of defunding all border enforcement agencies and giving mass amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants in the United States.
The letter, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, features over 700 signatories from Democrats in myriad states ranging from Arizona to Wisconsin. The demands include calling on Congress to "divest from immigration enforcement agencies like [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and [Customs and Border Protection]."
The signers also "request that you prioritize the inclusion of a clean pathway to citizenship for essential workers, Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and their families in all economic recovery legislation, including through budget reconciliation."
Two of the lawmakers on the letter are from Colorado and running in competitive races: state senator Brittany Pettersen (D.), who is running in Colorado's seventh district, and state representative Yadira Caraveo (D.), who is running in Colorado's eighth district. North Carolina state senator Wiley Nickel (D.), who also signed the letter, is running in the state's 13th district. Gabe Vasquez (D.), a former city councilman in Las Cruces, N.M., is running for Congress in his state's second district.
In September 2021, migrant encounters on the southern border had reached an all-time record at more than 1.7 million. But Democratic resistance to border security at the time reveals how few realized that immigration would turn into a potent electoral issue.
At the same time, many Democrats are attempting to appear more moderate on border issues. Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), who is up for reelection in November, attacked President Joe Biden for overseeing a "perpetual humanitarian crisis at our southern border" and proposed additional funding for immigration enforcement.
Three of the Democrats on the letter, Nickel, Caraveo, and Pettersen, make no reference to border security on their campaign websites. Vasquez has taken a more moderate approach since last year, calling for "comprehensive immigration reform … while ensuring we have a safe and secure border."
The Free Beacon reported last month that Vasquez attempted to conceal his radical views on defunding law enforcement. During an interview with a local news station in June 2020, Vasquez called for "defunding a system that privileges white people over everyone else." Vasquez has since deleted many references to the Black Lives Matter movement on social media.
Vasquez's campaign requested a copy of the letter but declined to comment further.
Colorado Republicans believe they have an opportunity to leverage the border crisis against Democrats in the weeks before Election Day. In a statement to the Free Beacon, Colorado GOP executive director Joe Jackson said the September 2021 letter provides a clear contrast on the issue.
"The fact that Yadira Caraveo supports abolishing ICE proves that she is an extremist more interested in promoting a far-left agenda than in keeping citizens of the Eighth Congressional District safe," he said. "The open border policies supported by Joe Biden and Yadira Caraveo have brought dangerous drugs to our state and have created a devastating humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border."
The campaigns of Caraveo, Pettersen, and Nickel did not respond to requests for comment.