The unfolding illegal immigration crisis at the southern border is likely to change the political calculus of the fall midterm elections. Even in states far from the border, like New Hampshire, the situation is altering the political dynamics on the ground. Former MA Sen. Scott Brown, a moderate Republican, recently criticized his Democrat opponent, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and Obama for supporting policies that created the crisis.
“I hold (Shaheen and Obama) directly responsible because had they secured the border, had they not provided those incentives, almost a magnet, we wouldn’t be in this situation today,” Brown told the Concord Monitor. “She’s in favor of the Dream Act, she’s in favor of amnesty, she’s not in favor of securing the borders, and these are things that we need to do or else we’ll be in more of a crisis.”
According to Gallup, illegal immigration is now tied with the economy as the top issue on voters’ minds. Another recent poll found that 59% of voters think the current illegal aliens swarming the border should be sent back to their home countries “as quickly as possible.”
Even progressive politicians are beginning to worry about the political consequences of the crisis. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a run for the White House, amended his opposition to any deportations of the new illegal immigrants by urging the Administration not to send any illegals to his state.
Shaheen, in the wake of Brown’s criticism, is trying a nuanced stance. “She believes that unaccompanied children from Central American nations should be processed for repatriation expeditiously, unless their lives are at risk or if they qualify for asylum or other humanitarian protections guaranteed by federal law,” office spokesman Shripal Shah told the Monitor.
In addition to the competitive Senate race, New Hampshire also has two House seats, currently held by Democrats, that could flip to the GOP. Democrats won the seats in 2008, Republicans retook them in 2010 and then lost them again with Obama’s reelection in 2012.
The Republican primary for those seats isn’t until September, but all candidates have come out strongly on the border crisis, saying that the border must be secured before any consideration of comprehensive immigration reform. Democrat incumbents are trying to thread the political needle.
Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter told the Monitor she is currently reviewing proposals to deal with the current crisis. “We need to secure our borders and allocate adequate resources to deal with this situation,” she said in a statement. “Ultimately we must find a solution that balances the best interests of our country and of these children. I look forward to reviewing the House Working Group’s report and subsequent legislation that seeks to achieve these goals.”
Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster said the U.S. must send back and children whose safety is not “immediately” threatened. “As Americans with a proud tradition of providing humanitarian relief to children in danger around the world, we must work to find a solution to this crisis,” her statement said. “We need to send a strong message to these children’s families that these attempts to cross the border are extremely dangerous, and that we will not reward reckless and illegal behavior.”