Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., who is in a tight race against Republican challenger Blake Masters, has been trying to distance himself from the border policies of President Joe Biden as the campaign hits its closing stage, the Washington Examiner reported on Wednesday.
"The administration has at times made some decisions that are not helpful to Arizona. I call the president out on it," Kelly said in an interview with the Examiner before a campaign stop in Yuma, a city near the border with Mexico.
In a debate earlier this month on the Arizona Senate race, Kelly emphasized in his opening remarks that when fellow "Democrats are wrong, like on the border, I call them out on it, because I'm always going to stick up for Arizona," ABC News reported.
The senator specified that he disagreed with the Biden administration's decision to lift Title 42, a Trump-era policy which lessened opportunities for migrants to make legal claims to avoid deportation during the coronavirus pandemic.
"When the president decided he was going to do something dumb on this and change the rules that would create a bigger crisis ... I've told him he was wrong," Kelly said at the debate. "So I've pushed back on this administration multiple times, and I've got more money on the ground."
Kelly has admitted that "the federal government needs to do more" to fix the border issue and that "Arizonans are sick of it." He told the Examiner that "I've worked to bring more money here, more technology, more money for Border Patrol agents," adding that, "border security is national security, and when there are 2 million asylum-seekers coming across the border in a year, it's incredibly difficult for Border Patrol to handle that."
Kelly's renewed emphasis on the illegal immigrant situation comes as crossings set a new record for highest ever in a fiscal year, according to Customs and Border Protection.
It also comes amidst a recent CBS News poll that showed that immigration ranks third in Arizona as being "very important," just behind the economy and inflation.
The senator touted, while speaking to voters during campaigning this week, that new funding will expand and upgrade the San Luis Port of Entry, which is funded partly by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure and Jobs Act that passed last fall, the Examiner reported.
The improvements at the port will expand vehicle and pedestrian processing lanes and build new inspection facilities.
"This is something I've worked on since my first day in the United States Senate," Kelly said. "These ports of entry substantiate a substantial amount of revenue, and the Arizona economy will grow when we upgrade our ports of entry."
Masters slammed Kelly and other Democrats for "surrendering our southern border" during the debate earlier this month, as Republicans have stressed the border issue, particularly with the record-high number of arrivals, the Examiner reported.
Masters vowed to triple the size of the Border Patrol and complete the wall that former President Donald Trump started.
"I think the correct amount of illegal immigration is zero; that's what the federal law says," Masters said. "The problem is that Joe Biden and Mark Kelly are willfully ignoring federal law."
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